- Location: Arcata, California
- Website: whitmcleod.com
In a previous life Whit McLeod was a wildlife biologist, but today you'll find him at his workshop in the evergreen hamlet of Arcata (which is probably where we'd be if we weren't such confirmed city-lovers), biding his days with a team of four craftspeople, one of them originally trained as a sushi chef.
They do everything themselves, including precision cuts of exclusively salvaged materials, which currently includes a stock of oak quartersawn wine barrels. Techniques include pegged mortise and tenon joinery and steam bending using vintage machinery.
The lines they produce focus on chairs and a range of indoor and outdoor furniture, with pieces for dining, living room and bar. The aestheic influences are clear: McLeod was inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, which brought the romance of handcraft back to an increasingly industrialized world in the early 20th century.
The designs have a distinctly Mission look, which can often feel heavy in a small space. But the beautiful finishes and joinery bump up the aesthetic to a level we're not used to seeing on Mission-style furniture, and we think that a carefully-selected made-to-order or ready-to-ship piece from McLeod would feel incredibly grounding as an accent piece, even in a smallish apartment.
McLeod's team makes good use of all the parts of their salvaged materials: wine barrel staves, which seem like the very bones of the barrels, morph into elegant folding lounging chairs ($145) and benches ($575) with minimal alteration.
The tops of wine caskets become wooden toilet seats (with the winery's label intact).
Other standouts include sturdy-looking upholstered dining chairs with "vertebrae backs" ($1070), pictured on the front page, and space-saving fold-down Vineyard Tables ($2212).
McLeod's philosophy is admirable: add something beautiful to the world without taking anything away. He seems an idealist, and he's one who makes a living at it, which we think is quite a feat in this day and age.
Speaking of which, prices are typical for this level of hand-craftmanship and domestic manufacture: on the expensive side.