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SEPTEMBER 18, 2010

F*SHO: Furniture from Cleveland

After reading an article in Wednesday's Plain Dealer I was really looking forward to the show of contemporary furniture by local designer/builders. The fact that it was not far away, in the new Battery Park Powerhouse, was a plus. If I'd have known there would be free beer and mini-Happy Dogs I'd have skipped dinner to get there earlier.

A steady stream of people were coming and going when I got there at 6:30, and when I left 45 minutes later it was busier still. Good news for the local design community.

Bomb Factory

The first piece I saw was from Bomb Factory, a dark wood credenza. Nice, but not fantastic. I was a little disappointed, especially when I read the description on their card:

This is not a furniture company. This is a "damn," "that's beautiful" and an "I absolutely love this" company.

A few minutes later I was thinking "damn, that's beautiful" and "I absolutely love this" company."

Wooden bench covered with artificial turfWhat changed my mind was clever design and beautiful construction, like this sturdy bench with an artificial turf seat.

White plank in corner with light behindTall narrow wooden framed mirrroThe mirror is lovely, the corner light so darned simple that you can't help but say to yourself "why didn't I think of that?"

Handmade wooden chair.Wooden table with curved edges

The graceful table breaks with the more industrial look of many pieces and does the last piece that caught my eye, a this modern riff on a Windsor chair.

A Piece of Cleveland

Wooden table covered with cutting boardsAPOC has already made something of a name for itself around town. Each piece they sell has a description of where the wood was salvaged from. APOC's tables and cutting boards are popular items.

Bauhaus Builders

Laminated wood table with glass topEven further from the industrial look is this elegant laminated wood table with a glass top. The style and construction reminded me of the work of Ray and Charles Eames.

So it wasn't a total surprise when designer John Arthur showed me a tattoo on his forearm: the god of transportation sitting on an Eames lounge chair!


Hanging lamps made of feltThese lovely hanging lamps, hand-made from felt, look comfortable in this warehouse-like space yet feel organic. Nice combination.

The pride designer Joe Ribic (far right in photo) has in his work was evident from his first words when I stopped to look. No question that this is a guy who cares about every detail.

That may be the theme for the night: work created by people who love and care about what they make. It was great to see them together for a night. I'd love to see this sort of showroom on a permanent basis, an idea that's been several years in development by the folks behind the Cleveland District of Design.

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