Denver's Gitane Workshop was founded by architect-turned-furniture designer Scott Friedman, who takes pride "in creating heirloom quality furniture of distinctive authenticity and exceptional craftsmanship."
Revival or not, Friedman manages to innovate within a staid modern design aesthetic, incorporating top-notch materials and geometric forms in an unconventional yet coherent and elegant visual language.
The "Ton Sai" Collection epitomizes his approach, where curvilinear powder-coated steel legs contrast with glass surfaces and hardwood detailing. The bookshelf—intended to project outward from a wall instead of against it—would be a fascinating partition/centerpiece in a room of any size. Yet for all its unorthodox shape and size, the "Ton Sai" bookshelf doesn't feel heavy or intrusive, thanks largely to its arcing steel frame.
The "Ton Sai" coffee table, on the other hand, suggests a precarious balance for its minimal construction.Metal connections are drilled and machine screwed leaving a crisp look unlike welded construction. In the Standard version of this piece the hardwood elements are cylindrical in shape resulting in pure forms... The sculpted version has the same metal frame but the hardwood elements have been lathe turned to have concave surfaces offering a more elegant end product.
The "Coban" collection is characterized by fin- or propeller-like legs and circular tabletops.The Coban table series offers clean lines, simple yet elegant forms, and a structurally responsive interplay of materials. Solid wood arms and laser-cut steel columns form a composite element which is machine screwed to steel connection rings. No time is spared or detail overlooked in the design and fabrication of this series. All connections are drilled and machine screwed, eliminating the need for unattractive welds.
A bespoke dining room buffet (below), "a combination of new construction with found materials," is also curiously included in the "Coban" series. The modern drawer unit rests on a vaguely steampunk base that is made from salvaged timber and plow heads.
Nevertheless, the final result works surprisingly well.
Meanwhile, Gitane Workshop's most recent work, the "Biscayne Bay" coffee table, is one of the more straightforward designs in their collection, a well-crafted contemporary take on modern design. The brief was to create a coffee table with a glass top and a lower shelf: "We proposed this simple yet elegant design which celebrates the natural beauty and structural qualities of wood."
Details include "doweled half lap joints," a tempered glass infill and the angular, chevron-like legs.
The "Dresden" dresser and chest of drawers are perhaps the least ambitious of the pieces, retaining a more conventional boxy form, albeit with a twist on the legs and details such as handles of different lengths. Of course, this might simply be attributable to the lack of in situ photography; it's unclear as to whether these pieces are in production.
Similarly, the "Schofield" table, which consists of a glass surface atop accordion-like wooden legs, remains a rendering.
The "Loma" nightstand is perhaps my favorite of the custom pieces, an ultra-minimal take on a box with a single drawer.
The rest of the custom pieces are also worth checking out; the "Christ the King Church Chairs" (above) marks a veritable rebirth of wood from a demolition: "After a portion of the church was demolished, the client decided to use the reclaimed Douglas fir timbers for the construction of new sanctuary furnishings."
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