Woodworker and craftsman Jory Brigham is bringing his wares to the New York Design Center. A fourth-generation “wood whisperer,” Brigham was raised in Hawaii by parents who encouraged his creativity, particularly his architect father. His process is a thoughtful one, involving meditating on the form and shape of a piece of wood prior to making a cut. It’s a process that led Brigham to turn down an opportunity to be on Ellen’s Design Challenge, because the show asked participants to sketch—but not handcraft—furniture. But he won another reality show: Spike TV’s Framework, which set Brigham against 11 other contestants. Now, making his debut at DESIGNLUSH at the NYDC (he already sells his wares directly and via Toronto showroom Lab Studio | Design) Brigham chats with EAL about his beginnings, what’s next, and what makes the showroom a good fit for his growing brand.
What was the first piece of furniture you created?
I’ve always tried to surround myself with the things that inspire me and get my wheels turning. When I was too broke to afford what I wanted, I just started making it. Although I had often helped my dad build furniture as a kid, I hadn’t really designed anything of my own until I was about 18. I started with a full bedroom set—although, per usual, got carried away, ending up with something that looked more akin to a coffin than a dresser.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m working on a dining table that’s headed to Miami—a collaboration with interior designer Lynda Murray that has a walnut top and brass base. The thing is a beast to move, but well worth the trouble, in my opinion.
How did your partnership with DESIGNLUSH come about? What pieces are they featuring in their showroom?
I had fought the showroom route for years—I always felt that they lacked a certain “soul,” and didn’t see them jibing with our aesthetic. In the past, I’d visited showrooms where the atmosphere was cold and the staff, unfriendly.
To me, DESIGNLUSH was different; they had all the right characteristics to set themselves apart. They also represented other great lines that fit well with our brand. Right now, I believe they have about 10 pieces from us, including a Hollister and a Parker credenza, a Jax table, a Hank chair, an Emerson sofa, an Ozark side table, an Arka coffee table, a Cousin Eddie bench, and a couple dining chairs.
Who are some makers or companies you're following or interested in?
I have a small list of makers and designers that I keep an eye on. My long-term and steady inspiration has been Noé Duchaufour Lawrance. His clean aesthetic and out-of-the-box thinking have always inspired me. There seems to be a shortage of woodworkers who have that great eye for design and a way a balancing classic style with new ideas. I feel that Chad Parkinson of the Furniture Joint does a great job of this. It’s always fun to see what Uhuru Design out of New York is up to as well.