With a natural inclination for streamlining and simplicity, he became fascinated with white-on-white installations. For one of his student projects, he covered a large white wall with tiny white tiles. "It looked like the wall was undulating," he said.
But Dela Pole proved more the pragmatist than he first imagined. A few years after graduation, he started applying his sensibilities to more functional creations. He was commissioned to create pedestals, benches and shelves for a few area art galleries. He ventured a coffee table and a lounge chair for his own home.
Encouraged by his friends, he founded Squared Furniture circa 2006. "But it hasn't really been a proper business until the last 13 months or so," he confessed.
Thanks to the optimistic colors and attractive simplicity, Squared Furniture is proving popular with modernist homeowners on the coasts. As sales gained traction during the past year, "all but two of our sales were New York and California," said Dela Pole.
Those long-distance orders enabled Dela Pole to invest in his young business. He recently hired his first employee, Jessica Birkelo, 31, a seasoned designer who majored in furniture at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. "She's been instrumental in refining the forms," explained Dela Pole. He also moved the operation from his cramped Minneapolis garage to a new, more spacious workshop amongst the cornfields of St. Paul Park. "It's cheaper than the city," he said with a laugh.
A furniture lover can easily spot the design influences; "I like some mid-century stuff," confirmed Dela Pole. He observed that most furniture designers "work additively" by piling their work with spindles and carvings. Like his Scandinavian idols, Dela Pole said, "we try to strip that away and create the most basic form possible."
But architecture is an even bigger inspiration. Dela Pole cites Swiss-born Le Corbusier and the American Steven Holl, both modernists inspired by phenomenolgy -- the sensory experience created by the piece's building materials. This explains the playful use of a red lacquered aluminum door for a sophisticated walnut console, not to mention Dela Pole's fondness for "domestic woods" like ash and white oak.
"Even though the forms are linear and harsh," he said, "they're softened by the materials."