Having grown up with a wood shop in the basement, it’s only natural that Chicago-based designer Jason Lewis would forge a career making furniture by hand. He says, “The activity of building things was always just part of the environment.” After college and a few years of the office grind, Lewis sought out a local woodworker who took on apprentices. Under his tutelage, Lewis learned traditional wood joinery and the craft of building fine furniture. In 2001, he went out on my own, building custom projects for local clients and working on a own line of his own designs. It’s been ten years. Today he operates out of a 4,000-square-foot space on Chicago’s West Side, and his pieces are available online at House & Hold. As for inspirations, Lewis’ Friday Five displays his appreciation for mid-century masters and industrial sensibilities.
2. Sam Maloof
Maloof is like the patron saint of the individual designer/craftsman. He has done some really iconic designs, chairs especially, and he also spent 60+ years in the shop building them for people. He is one of my earliest and biggest inspirations as a woodworker.
3. BDDW Showroom
I’ve always loved their furniture, but I just went to the showroom for the first time recently when I was in New York. It is pretty incredible, like a cross between a massive loft space and a medieval castle. Everything is so detailed and composed; it’s a complete vision. I feel like this place, and all the things and people in it, exist in some alternate universe.
4. Wright Auction House
Wright, which is in Chicago, is the best auction house in the US for modern and contemporary design. It also happens to be about three blocks from my shop. I go to the auction previews on weekday mornings, and just walk around absorbing. For me, this place is like a museum.
5. U.S. Adhesives Co. Building
One of the best parts of my job is working in and exploring the industrial neighborhoods of Chicago. I feel a total connection to the activity and history of these buildings.