Thursday, September 23, 2010

Out and About in JAX

Due to budgetary cutbacks, my wings once again have been clipped but for those of you locals stuck in the samo samo, thought I throw out a little photo op I took around Riverside. Now to my friends from out of town, "Riverside" means little to you but I'm sure you know the same old story. The attrition rate of business' downtown and in Riverside is quite alarming and before we thin it too much, I want to spend some time enjoying what we have.

For the most part Jacksonville has reminded me of the missing episodes of Hee-Haw but metropolitan culture is everywhere if you look with the right kind of eyes. Since my return from the West, I've come to appreciate the mix. If you're like me and working to keep your business afloat and trying to maintain your identity as an artist, let me offer this recent observation:

There's no better time than right now to double down and work for yourself. Start up costs are at an all time low and with a killer lease and a lean and mean business model, you could find yourself well positioned when the turnaround happens. These are snaps from my town and I find I'm consistently surprised at the sophistication I spot in the cracks and crevices of this sleepy little trailer park we call a city.

"Easy for you to say!" you might remark, but I'm putting my money where my mouth is. I'm working on a brick and mortar concept for our downtown. I'll post updates as we make progress but suffice to say, I'll see you there in the long shadows of bars and museums with a smile on my face saying "Come on in! Culture lives here to fight another day."

See you around the neighborhood,
J.C. McKay
Founder of Craft and Custom

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Milling the future of my company.

I've always thought this would be a great road to go with my little furniture company and today I took a first step. I began rough milling downed trees to make furniture. After reading James Krenov, "The Fine Art of Cabinet Making", I got the crazy idea to make this a cornerstone to starting my business. It's green, it's cheap, and most of all it's rewarding in the fact that I can pick my timber from the absolute beginning. It will make me a better artisan and a better woodworker. Can't wait to see this timber dry. More pics to come.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Industrial Modern on La Brea

Just as promised more on industrial modern with more to come. The pic directly above was taken on the showroom of Cisco Modern on La Brea in Hollywood as was the table above it. The cool thing about the table is that it was milled from reclaimed teak (although I've seen a lot of this...maybe too much for it ALL to be reclaimed). However in principal, what a great concept. The accent table has a solid stone top. It was salvaged from a factory and re purposed as either an end table or as one customer suggested, a kitchen island.

Monday, June 28, 2010

One Last Word...

On a parting note when it comes to the Dwell on Design Show, as a furniture designer and hopeful business person, I had the same question for every business owner I spoke with whether a builder, green energy company, or showroom owner: "How has business been in 2010?" The answer was almost always a resounding "good and getting better". Some designers said '09 was a terrible year but 2010 has been even better than '08 already. Without a doubt I was left with a sense of optimism. Everyone is having a good first quarter and looking forward to a strong finish to 2010. The numbers are looking good and the momentum getting stronger. In a seemingly endless sea of negative press giving us a constant reminder of a sagging economy, the word on the street is "best sales in a long time". So suit up. Lets go for a ride. I think it's time already.

Dwell on Design Rapid Fire Wrap Up

From the top are Sarah Turner's cleverly recycled light bulb vases and her ingenious doorstop stools (sorry for the blurry pic). Malfi flooring's ingenious concept for pouring resin into wooden floors. These materials can be back-lit to showcase the resin coloring etc. Lastly featured above is the uber artistic combo of Modern Murals. The Evans' pictured above are probably the most congenial and approachable business I encountered. They enhance and enlarge artwork both by other artists or your own to display on your walls. is definitely worth a click.

Dwell on Design Rapid Fire Finish Up

Pictured above are tile samples from Soli Architectural Supply and in the middle, terrazzo looking flooring from Ice Stone. Ice Stone mixes glass shards with concrete to create the terrazzo aesthetic popular in lots of 50's minded home owners and designers.

Dwell on Design Furniture Row Part Four

Dwell on Design Furniture Row Part Three

The first three items on in this post are actually from the Asia Now portion of the Dwell on Design show. Many Americans probably have difficulty wrapping their brains around the sophistication and extensiveness of the far Eastern marketplace but as someone who has seen it first hand, it is awesome.

Dwell on Design Furniture Row Part Two

Dwell on Design Furniture Row Part One

Without a doubt mid-century mod is still dominating the face of modernist furniture according to many of the vendors at Dwell on Design but it was refreshing to see some new influences making their way to the front as well. Hand made look is surfacing more and more as well as a mix of industrial aesthetic is showing up more and more. As for the industrial part. I've been been seeing it more and more over the years and welcome the inclusion of up-cycling not just materials but also entire fixtures that might not serve their original purpose. Personally, I can't wait to experiment with it when I get home. For more examples of where I'm getting this from check out Truck furniture (, Cleveland Art ( and even Cisco Home ( Look for more post to come on this.

As a furniture maker, design professional, and all around design geek, I find it difficult to nail down a perspective on sharing information about other studios that would otherwise be considered competition. At Dwell on Design this weekend, I found myself geeking out about a whole range of boutique lines that are visionaries and all around great people. Chief among such companies is Mash Studios with their LAX series and some of their upcoming releases. I had a lengthy conversation with owner Bernard Brucha about fabrication, design, and the rigors of bringing quality into production at an affordable price all while staying green in todays American marketplace. Bernard and his studio manager Zoe were plain out straight shooters and without a doubt one of my favorite conversations at the show. They have a showroom in Venice and a fantastic new collection coming out. Worth your time and worth your money. In time you'll see more posts from me about these guys.

More Dwell on Design

One of my favorite exhibitors at Dwell on Design is Handmade. John McDonald has designed a series of upcycled door and drawer fronts that are made for pre-existing Ikea cabinets. As he explained (and as a furniture builder I agree) Ikea sells their cabinetry for less money than most craftsman can even buy the materials for in America. He has devised an simple but ingenious was to dress up your kitchen without having to buy an entirely new set of cabinets with recycled flooring, building materials, and the like. Check him out: