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Walnut + Oak - A Modern Approach to American Made

09/6/19  |  Jeffrey Stegelman

Was totally stoked walking into Walnut and Oak the other day to pick up my new 46” oak desk.

I was totally stoked walking into Walnut and Oak the other day to pick up my new 46” oak desk. As soon as I walked in the door, I could sense a lot of magic happening, so I was thrilled when John, the founder, offered a tour of the studio.
In the front of the shop, John’s team was working on a gorgeous credenza. The finish had just been applied and the walnut was glowing a rich brown. That’s going to make a stunning piece in someone’s home. 
Across from the credenza were two wood and leather chairs. John showed me how they were figuring out the best placement for the front crossbar support. One design seemed to get in the way of a natural foot position while an alternate positioning could be felt while sitting. John said they’ll be adjusting the design until it’s just right.
We left the front office and entered the shop area where the furniture is built. I couldn’t help but geek out over the cool Festool specialty tools John has on hand. Then he showed me a tool he designed and fabricated in order to do a better job better gluing boards for table tops.
I asked John about his inspiration for bringing Walnut and Oak into existence. He told me he wanted to create a company that would produce high quality furniture in the U.S. at reasonable prices. 
“We use a mix of traditional craft and newer processes like automation and computer-aided controls to increase our efficiency,” he explained. “A significant portion of the cost of foreign-built furniture goes into transportation and import costs, whereas we put our efforts toward quality materials and automation. This way we believe we can deliver a better product to our customers. We've still got a long way to go to realize the full vision, but are well on our way!”
I wanted to know what’s on the vision board for Walnut and Oak. John said they’ve got things cooking in three main areas.
First, they’re beginning to explore upholstery and leather. This opens up a new set of possibilities and the ability to mix materials. Out of this will come chairs and couches that will allow them to appeal to new customers. Stay tuned, because they’re getting close to releasing their own modern take on the classic safari chair.
Walnut and Oak is also expanding their offering in cabinets. They do a lot of these projects already, but most are custom so it’s hard to market them. They’ve been exploring an offering that would standardize and simplify this world - somewhere between the limitations of IKEA and the overwhelming complexity and cost of fully custom cabinets. 
And finally, John’s got his passion project: A modern stereo that integrates the joys of LPs in a minimalist design.
“Music today is wonderful in the sense that you can get nearly everything you want to hear right from a streaming service and beamed to nearly any device,” John told me. “I'm a huge fan of Sonos for coupling the software and hardware that really focuses on this area. But there’s also a great joy in working a little harder for your music: Finding the LP you’re seeking, bringing it home, adding it to your collection, then putting it on the player, queuing it up, and dropping the needle. It makes you work more for your music. Although I'll admit I'm a relative newcomer to the world of vinyl, I find I enjoy it even more while it's playing.” 
To this end, John was driven to design an all-in-one that combines the simplicity of Sonos with a quality turntable, LP storage and reduced cord clutter. And he’s packaging it up in a sleek, minimalist design. I can’t wait to for the launch!
I went to Walnut and Oak because their designs are satisfying and they have a very high standard of quality. The entire furniture line is produced with wood grown right here in the U.S. 
My new 46” oak desk checks all the boxes for me. It's a unique piece of furniture that I’m proud to own, and I feel great about supporting a local business that in turn supports local businesses.
Photographed by Stevie Rotella
Offices of Walnut and Oak
Copy edited by Liz Behlke

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