Craft-inspired 'rooms' for entertaining

  • Article by: KIM PALMER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 7, 2014 - 9:33 AM

Mike Smith and Katie French of Forage Modern Workshop in their room vignette.

Photo: Steve Henke/American Craft Council,

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Forage Modern Workshop, Minneapolis


Inspired by: “I love brunch,” said owner Mike Smith. “We just imagined a brunch party.” Almost everything in the space came from local artisans, he said, for a look he describes as “Midwestern modern.” Inspirational objects include a wooden coffee pour-over stand and wooden stools by Solid Manufacturing, porcelain dinnerware by ceramic artist Brittany Pool and artwork from Aesthetic Apparatus. “We knew we wanted meaningful art on the back wall, for a focal point,” Smith said. “We went to their studio to find a screen print, and saw the screen frames that they use to make prints,” which now form a grouping on the wall. “I love the idea that the process becomes the art.”

Combined with: To complete the room, Smith and designer Katie French chose an oak and Douglas fir table from Blackwall Furniture, a credenza by furniture maker Matt Eastvold, an end table from Sunrise Manufacturing, and a chair and ottoman from California furniture maker Stephen Kenn, made of World War II surplus canvas and leather strapping. “It’s extremely rugged, and the canvas feels amazing,” Smith said.


Desi Creswell, Desi Interior Design, Minneapolis


Inspired by: Three artisan pieces became the starting point for Creswell’s space: a chunky, doughnut-shaped wood sculpture by Jim Keller — “it has a smooth surface but is knotty, so it’s polished and raw at the same time,” Creswell said — a ceramic vase by potter Min Ho Cho and a cotton-weave shawl, in classic black-and-white, by Muffy Young, used as a throw. “I was looking for something that was intended for one purpose but used for a different purpose instead,” Creswell said.

Combined with: Comfort topped Creswell’s agenda for her vignette. “For me, a space has to be really functional, not like a museum,” she said. “I wanted a space where I could see people socializing, having an after-dinner cocktail — a welcoming environment where you want to linger.” With that in mind, she chose “a large, comfy sofa, with chairs angled off to the side, to invite you in,” plus elements of black “to ground the space.” Backdrops also are an important element: She chose a metallic plaster finish for the wall, and a textural rug, by artist Zoe Luyendijk, inspired by a cityscape, then reinterpreted into a rug.

Engler Studio Interior Design, Edina


Inspired by: “We wanted to show an example of a collected feeling, and went for pieces that brought diversity,” said Linda Engler. With that in mind, her team chose ceramic bowls that resembled origami, by artist Lynda Ladwig; a “refined rustic” chair and ottoman by Joel Nichols; and an Asian-inspired ceramic sculpture by David Bryce. “I like a little Asian motif in pretty much every room I do,” Engler said.

Combined with: A bold contemporary painting by artist Margaret Fitzgerald. “We wanted a big jolt of color,” Engler said. Other pieces include a traditional chair, in gold leaf and espresso velvet, a sleek leather daybed and a few midcentury modern touches, including a brass floor lamp and an acrylic coffee table.

findfurnish, Minneapolis


Inspired by: Clean lines and industrial patinas are characteristic of the findfurnish look, said co-owner Marie Zellar. “We source midcentury modern and vintage, and restore them for our clients. The three artists we chose mirror that aesthetic.” Those artists include Louise Harris, of Edina, who is creating custom art pieces using metal industrial “leftovers,” according to Zellar. The room also will incorporate porcelain pieces by artist Ikuzi Teraki — “the finish is really textural and evokes aged metal,” Zellar said — and a floor lamp by Wisconsin blacksmith Luke Proctor, made of patinated steel with a mica shade and eye-catching red cord.

Combined with: A liquor cabinet, made from a metal military-surplus piece, then refinished in fire-engine red; a restored vintage hi-fi console and two Danish lounge chairs will complete the look, for a room that’s “a place to hang out, put your feet up and have a glass of Scotch,” according to Zellar. And for a finishing touch, Minneapolis screen printer Kick.Stand.Press is contributing a custom wallpaper that looks like birchwood. “With the metal grays and reds, we wanted something a little more natural, to draw the eye,” Zellar said.

Carter Averbeck, owner, Omforme Design, Minneapolis

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  • The design team for the “room” created by Engler Studio Interior Design included Linda Engler, left, Courtney Johnson and Emily Thull.

  • Designer Desi Creswell, Desi Interior Design, in a room vignette for American Craft Council show.

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