Last month, we entertained a group of interior design students from Fox Valley Technical College.

Having a group of students tour the factory sparked some great conversations about how Urban stays fresh and modern using a product that has been around for more than a century. Here’s what we discussed:

  • Looking to European influences
  • Incorporating refined features and color
  • Merging industrial with modern

One way we keep things interesting is looking beyond Americana to more European influences and applications.

On the Materials side, we used rustic, white barn Oak, replete with saw marks and weathered patina to create a parquet flooring pattern. This look is typically something you’d see in a European chateau rather than a residence or commercial space in the Midwest.

We fell in love with a similar oak parquet floor application at the SoHo house on North Green Street in Chicago. Simply being observant often keeps us on our toes.

Taking this into Furnishings, we designed a console for Sundance Catalog in which the doors are laid with the same, woven parquet pattern.

We see a transition from bulky and manly to pieces that have more refined features and/or the surprise of color.

Our Waterfall desk features a very clean, mitered edge of factory maple paired with a brightly colored file cabinet. You can also see this in our dining tables where we combine a chunky, 3X Pine top salvaged from the milking parlor of an old barn with a simple and sleek, bright steel base.

When it comes to design, it helps that we have some of the most forward-thinking customers who allow us to push the boundaries of rustic.

We collaborated with Room & Board in designing these reclaimed wood stools made from Douglas fir and Pine salvaged from grain elevators. They may be chunky, but a 16″ lathe adds a bit of refinement to their shape.

Lastly, we discussed merging industrial with modern. One of our favorite examples was a floor we did for Urban Outfitters. Scarred and dirty, we painted this factory maple flooring in sections before it was pulled up and reassembled into this zany colored, geometric pattern. It is now featured as part of a dressing room in a retail space.

Are you thinking about using reclaimed materials or furnishings in your next project? Let us help you!

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