We honestly cannot get enough of the work coming out of the Perry & Co. workshop and are really excited to bring Jeffrey and co. to the Flea! The company just relocated to Lawrenceville and they are getting some seriously beautiful work done along the way.
We asked Jeffrey to share his story with Flea shoppers. Here's what he had to say:
Most of your artwork is functional in nature. Do you begin a project with a product in mind, or does the material itself inspire the pieces you create?
I’d love to say the wood is my sole inspiration...but typically with client based furniture pieces everything begins with an idea and there’s a design process...pen to paper, design translated into computer, source lumber and build. My design education is rooted in “form follows function” so it’s always been a challenge to break away from that mentally. Occasionally I will find an amazing treasure at my local sawmill and instantly see it in a unique one-off conceptual piece. I have more freedom when I’m just messing around in the studio with free time and spare materials vs. working on a commission piece.
Congratulations on moving into a new workspace. Take us on a tour - what are you most excited about in the new space/neighborhood?
Thanks! It’s a huge change. What more could a small creative business want than to be in Lawrenceville surrounded by like-minded people. I get inspired every time I drive or bike down Butler Street. For me, it’s the same feeling I leave New York City with when I visit. People are doing stuff, and it’s great. It rubs off on you. As far as the new studio, I couldn't be happier. I’m looking forward to setting up a showroom/gallery space in the front of the studio overlooking Butler street, hopefully before the holidays. We've never been able to serve clients that want to just pop in and look at some merchandise, be it furniture, cutting boards, etc. And that’s been a request I get way too often, so I’m glad that’s going to be a reality. The biggest improvement is definitely having garage door access straight into the studio. If you've been to the old space you've ridden in the small freight elevator we had to use to get to the 5th floor where the studio was. It actually limited the size of projects we could work on and materials we could bring in. So that's a huge plus.
Tell us about your favorite projects. What do you most enjoy creating?
Honestly, my favorite projects are for other small businesses around the area. People are so passionate about their brands and products and it’s rewarding to be able to help them share that with their clientele whether through displays, signage or in-store fixtures. One of my favorite early, early projects and a great example is the reclaimed door retail counter at Pageboy. It’s not just functional, it’s an ambassador that greets everyone who comes through the door. I love stuff like that. I love working on projects that actually have to interact with people on a daily basis, rather than say a dresser that hides away in a bedroom and makes one or two people happy...and maybe a cat too. But don’t get me wrong, I’ll build you a dresser if you want a dresser.
As a woodworker, are there other materials you enjoy working with or incorporating into your work?
I love working with raw steel and the way it complements wood pieces. I wish I had more time to do my own welding and big metal fabrications. I usually handle simple cutting, bending and bolted assemblies in-house, but I've got a great metalworker who custom builds my designs for me across the river in Millvale.
The wood itself is a hugely important part of the process. Do you often have the opportunity to utilize reclaimed wood for parts of or a whole project?
When I first started out I tried to use reclaimed lumber for everything I did, but it unfortunately it didn’t always work with the designs clients were asking for. It’s now usually only if it’s specifically asked for or I happen to have a great piece on hand that will fit a project. The majority of the lumber I use is almost always from trees that were harvested around Western PA and Ohio. I can usually find everything I need from local sawmills which is awesome. The other thing I try and do is to use as much of my lumber scraps as possible to reduce waste. They get turned into cutting boards and smaller merchandise.
When did you become a full time maker and how did you get a start in the business?
My background is in industrial design, so fortunately being a maker comes with the territory. I worked for a decade in the industry straight out of school and gained a lot of experience on the business side of things in addition to just improving upon design/fabrication skills. Furniture was always a passion and being self-employed was always a dream. I definitely had the typical basement hobby/business on evenings and weekends for a few years. I was able to slowly keep adding to my arsenal of tools and machines vs. actually having the immense capital to just start up. I’ll also plug I Made It! Market as a great way to get your feet wet in getting off the ground in a craft/art business. It was one of the first places I started selling merchandise and networking. I've had repeat clients that still contact me that I met during the first few markets I did back when I started out a few years ago.