Back in the summer, Cam and I had one final furniture purchase to make, a bar. We did our research and weren't happy with the results. We could not find a timeless piece at a reasonable price.
Then, one day we found a credenza listed on Kijiji. It seemed perfect, but sometimes a Kijiji ad is too good to be true. So, we drove to Guelph after work where Era66 Furniture is headquartered to check everything out in person and see what we'd be getting into.
We left really impressed. The piece we were interested was unfinished, but Alexa and Molly are a talented duo that make you feel at ease about the whole "refurbished furniture" experience. Even though they were about to get married, they were able to finish the credenza in the stain of our choice and personally deliver it to our place in Toronto in two weeks.
When I started this blog, I instantly thought of this pair. They're very talented and Era66 Furniture is the type of company I would expect to read about in a trendy design magazine. I am really excited to share this mini interview with Alexa and Molly to shed some light on their story and provide more information to those looking to buy authentic mid century furniture.
How did you get starting in refurbishing mid century modern furniture?
It all started in a small village in central Laos; where we were studying sustainability and learning about environmentally responsible building methods. We decided that upon returning to Canada we wanted to start our own eco development project – this of course requires money. Era66 was born out of our existing love for woodworking and design, and the need for capital. Once we got started the true obsession with midcentury design and furniture set in and we couldn’t think about anything else. It was a love at first sight sort of encounter and we’ve never looked back. Plans for an eco development project are still in place but it is now looking like it is going to be a branch of Era 66 as opposed to an entirely different project.
Do you have any favourite furniture designers? Are they your main influences when conceiving a piece of work?
There are so many designers to draw from for inspiration.-too many to count. However the one that really sticks out in my mind is Hans Wegner. His attention to detail is incredible in terms of things like joints and finishes. Every time I think about taking short cuts and taking the easy way out I think of him and remember that those details are what make pieces unique and more importantly lovable and functional. They're the little cherry on top.
What is your favourite furniture piece in your own home and what is your dream piece?
Oh god, that is a difficult question. We have an original carved walnut sofa by Adrian pearsall in our living room that we received as a wedding gift from my parents. It is so beautiful and extravagant I could almost cry every time I look at. However on the other end of the spectrum we also have 2 Robin Day shell chairs that I found in the back of an industrial complex just thrown in the trash one day. I had been eyeballing a pair of them at a store a few weeks prior to this and fell in love with them. It was my birthday the day that I found them and it just felt like a little gift from the universe. For some reason the thrill of the hunt for those two chairs and the satisfaction of salvaging them has created a deep attachment that I could never give up haha.
What are some of the most exciting projects/endeavors on your plate, adding dimension to your brand’s portfolio?
There are so many exciting things happening at Era66 right now. We designed and released our first original line this December and things have taken off in a way we had never dreamt was possible. It was this event that sparked our newest project. We are currently working on converting the front part of our factory into a showroom / store where people can come look at and purchase finished pieces (vintage and new) and also check out our factory and see just exactly how everything is made. Its all about bringing people closer to the source. We think furniture is a bit like food in that way – its important to know where it comes from.
You've been known for innovation with finishes. How do you experiment, and what gets you excited today?
We are always trying new finishes, new processes, new everything. We are currently experimenting with oil finishes (instead of lacquer) and soap finishes. We’re really excited about trying out some soap finishes. It’s a process used on a lot of traditional midcentury furniture that has an entirely different texture and appearance than current finishes. It is very labour intensive and tedious but the pay off is beautiful.
How long does the whole process take to refurbish a piece. Can you explain a bit more about the process?
If only there were some magic way of knowing how long something was going to take. Depending on the finish, the material (wood, pressboard, veneer), and the style a piece of furniture the refinishing process can take anywhere from 2 hours to 2 weeks. The worst part being you never really know whats going to happen until you start stripping or sanding. Its always a mystery followed by either a pleasant surprise or a dreadful nightmare.
In terms of process. These are the steps that we usually take:
- Assess furniture – what is it made of , what kind of finish, what sort of damage is there, is the structure sound.
- Make design decisions based on previous assessment. i.e – strip, sand, paint, spray, stain, colour configuration.
- Start sanding or stripping (this is usually when you find out pretty quickly what you’re in for). This process is the bulk of the work.
- Once its completely sanded or stripped it heads to the finishing booth where it gets stained or painted (with a pigmented lacquer - not really paint) sealed and lacquered/oiled.
Where do you find most of the furniture to refurbish?
Furniture comes from everywhere. Sometimes its from a thrift store, sometimes its from customers who need to get rid of existing furniture to make room for new and sometimes it even comes from the trash like my two beautiful Robin Day chairs.
What part of the process excites you the most?
Definitely the final step - the finishing process. By that point you are usually through the worst of it and now you finally get to see what the end product is going to look like and its always a little bit of a surprise.
What's next for Era 66 Furniture?
Era 66 is growing everyday, and at the moment our biggest project is definitely the installation of our new showroom / store. Hopefully everything will be ready for a grand opening sometime in the beginning of May.
Check them out on Instagram @era66furniture to see some of their latest finds and projects.