Oakland, CA and online
After 13 years of operating two brick-and-mortar store locations, Big Pagoda is now an online-only destination. The designs strive to stay true to the essence of traditional Chinese furniture: "the sense of proportion, the integrity of the materials, and the joy expressed in the artisan's work." It riffs modern on a traditional Asian vernacular by simplifying and streamlining its classic forms and adornments.The line specializes in dressers, chests, and consoles, but also carries chairs, stools, tables and media centers.
The strongest pieces are undoubtedly the modern versions of the Japanese or Korean tansu, made graphically bold with simplified versions of the distinctive, ornate metal plate hardware you see on the originals. They also sell a small selection of original antique pieces.
Big Pagoda's chests are not cheap, but they're built to last. They are constructed in Shanxi Province, China by craftspeople using walnut and elm farmed from sustainable forests who eschew the use of nails and staples in favor of traditional Chinese mortise and tenon joinery.
The online store now features a "green" collection from Oakland-based furniture designer and maker Gabriel K. Beil of Semolina Design and the ceramic wood carvings and sculptures of Bay area artist Nathan Lynch.
(Edited from this post originally published 9.13.06)