Ethan Allen is a furniture designer and he shares his minimalist, high-end design philosophy with a range of furniture from the ultra-luxury to the low-cost.
His furniture pieces have an intimate connection with their subject matter: “I like to work with things that are real but in a different way,” he said.
“You have to make them seem like they’re made by a person who lives that way.
It’s a very intimate relationship, I think.”
To do this, Allen first looks for things that have a unique, personal feel to them.
This means finding a design that can feel both old and modern, a look that isn’t just a utilitarian piece but a living room or bedroom.
Then he finds the right materials for each of these different moods.
“For the bedroom, I like to use a lot of reclaimed wood,” he explained.
“It’s a way of looking at things that aren’t just about the space.
It brings to the table a certain sense of nostalgia, and it’s an emotional place.”
So he uses reclaimed wood in a lot.
For his dining room furniture, he makes up wood blocks that have been hand-carved, creating a space that’s much more intimate.
For furniture in the living room, he opts for reclaimed wood and concrete, which are both incredibly affordable and have a more organic feel.
“I love the natural look of the reclaimed wood, and I think it’s something that’s really beautiful,” Allen said.
He found the natural-looking wood blocks, along with the reclaimed concrete that they’re built from, gave the space a sense of organicism and harmony.
“This room was always meant to be organic, but then it became a lot more formal,” he added.
“We decided that we wanted it to be formal, but also not necessarily formal.
It had to be something that felt like it had been made for someone in the room.
And then it had to have a sense that it was a place for people to gather.”
He’s been making his own furniture since 2008, and he said he spends his time doing research and researching what people want in their homes.
“People always tell me how much they want a home that has a certain kind of feeling and this or that,” he recalled.
“When I was designing for people, I wanted to find a home where people could come and feel like they were a part of the world, and not just the furniture.”
His approach to furniture makes him a natural at finding materials that work well together, but his philosophy isn’t one that requires you to be a master of all things natural.
“The first thing I look for is, How can I make it look like it’s made by people who live that way?
It’s an amazing way to do that,” Allen explained.
The next step is to find the right material.
“My thing is to look for natural materials, and then I look at what people are comfortable using,” he continued.
“If I look, I can see how people are using it.
It really helps if I have the resources.”
Then, it’s time to get creative.
“There are certain things that you want in a home, and you want them to have an organic feel to it, so I’ll get rid of the natural stuff,” he stressed.
“Then you’ll find a way to make it feel like it is a place people are coming together.”
In the end, it takes the right pieces to create an experience that you’re proud of.
“Everything I do is really about what’s natural and beautiful and sustainable,” he concluded.
“So the furniture that I make, the furniture I’m designing, it has a real connection to the things that it’s meant to do.
It doesn’t have to be super expensive, but it’s going to be sustainable.”
He believes that everyone should have the option to make their own furniture.
“Most people can’t afford it, but people can make it,” he emphasized.
“That’s really important.
You can make something that you like and people will be proud of.”
Check out more of Allen’s furniture designs at EthanAllen.com.