By Jahna Peloquin | Images courtesy Norsk Valley and Golden Age Design
As fast, cheap, and foreign furniture is falling out of fashion, sustainably sourced, handcrafted furniture is having a moment. More furniture designers are creating pieces that are as just as functional and stylish as their mass-market counterparts, yet ethnically made.
They include Minnesota brand Norsk Valley, a new line of custom, handcrafted furniture inspired by Scandinavian design by New Hope-based woodworker and furniture designer Micah Lother. The collection is completely made from reclaimed, live-edge wood, which involves working with the natural edge of a tree—incorporating the rough, uneven texture of the tree's surface into the design, and stabilizing the natural split of the wood through craftsmanship, instead of removing or disguising a perceived imperfection. Rather than designing a piece from scratch and then creating it out of wood, Lother lets his design process be guided by the natural form of the wood. The live edge ethos embraces nature, craftsmanship, and simplicity—three tenants of Scandinavian design—while Lother's use of reclaimed wood reflects a respect for nature.
With side tables starting at $335, coffee tables at $735, and dining room tables at $4,000, these are one-of-a-kind, artisanal pieces at mass-manufactured, Pottery Barn prices. While Lother offers custom options, a selection of his readymade pieces are available at Golden Age Design in Robbinsdale, which specializes in refurbished vintage mid-century, Scandinavian-inspired furnishings.
How did you get your start as a furniture maker?
I'm actually a musician/songwriter that fell into designing furniture. I was on tour in Norway in 2010 when I decided to start Norsk Valley. I was so inspired by the simplicity and beauty of Scandinavian life & design. When I arrived home I began to learn as much as I could about the craft of live-edge design.
What inspires your designs?
Nature truly inspires my designs. I am passionate about discovering the unique qualities that are hidden inside each tree. In each piece I am always working to find a balance between strength and beauty.
The uniqueness of wood seems to be a central theme to your designs. What do you love about using wood as a medium? What are your favorite species of wood to work with and why?
Working with wood is a very rich and grounding experience. I enjoy thinking about all of the summers and winters these trees have weathered through the years. We are fortunate to live in a state with so many trees. I love working with Minnesota ash, maple, oak, and walnut. The color and grain of these species really come alive when the finish is complete.
Many of your designs combine different species of wood into a single piece. What do you enjoy about the look this creates?
I enjoy the blending of raw nature meets refined craftsmanship.
Until now, Golden Age Design has been known for exclusively selling vintage furniture. How did they pick up your designs?
Kara and Bill [Kurth, Golden Age Design’s husband-and-wife owners] are wonderful friends that have always been an encouragement to me in my furniture design. Kara and I went to elementary school together! Over the last few years they have asked me to make some pieces for Golden Age. I am thrilled to work with them.