They each earned university degrees. But when it came time to find work they loved, Rob Day and Jeremy Kehoe couldn’t imagine themselves in traditional office jobs.
Today, they’re known as The Carroll Street Woodworkers. They recently launched their first collection of furniture and lighting at the Interior Design Show in Toronto.
WOODWORKERS/FURNITURE DESIGNERS: Rob Day and Jeremy Kehoe
The 507 Antiques building on Carroll Street is a well-known landmark in the east end of downtown Toronto. Rob and Jeremy rent industrial space in the building, which is also home to a massive antique store. I stopped by to see their workshop and talked to Rob about some of their new designs.
Since they started working together about 1 1/2 years ago, custom work for architects and interior designers has been their bread and butter. They’ve taken on a mix of residential and commercial projects. Yet, the dream has always been to design their own collection; choosing woods wisely for their source and sustainability.
Artwork by Richard Brightling.
This push button dresser (above) is a piece they’re excited about. Instead of the usual pulls, each drawer opens with the push of a button. The mechanical parts inside are all solid wood and operate on a system of levers and pivot points. It’s made of solid white oak (the drawer boxes are solid birch) and is finished with white pigmented oil.
Using recycled wood, they’ve created a turned table lamp with an interesting shape and wonderful patina. They believe wood is too valuable to waste — smaller off-cuts are often perfect for lighting and accessories.
Jeremy designed these organic hanging pendants from solid wood. They have a fluid mid-century feel to them. You can order them alone or in multiples. The wood grain really warms up the contemporary design. The lights were a huge hit at the design show.
I love the look and philosophy behind the company’s wooden block sculptures. This one was created from about 1,500 pieces of scrap wood from furniture projects. They can be customized in any size or finish. Rob says, “we try to utilize as much waste as we can in our designs. Thirty percent of raw wood that comes into the workshop is waste. It’s valuable, so we do something with it.”
This walnut dresser has a fine bespoke quality to it. The wood grain is so rich and warm. It’s also a bit unexpected to see turned feet on a contemporary piece. Rob explains,”I don’t want to build anything I’ve seen before.”
Topped with a pane of glass, the alternating pattern of this coffee table design provides the kind of visual texture The Carroll Street Woodworkers love. They’ve used 36 threaded rods to hold it together — giving the piece a clever mechanical feel. “Everyone needs furniture,” says Rob. “It’s a way of injecting art and creativity into a home.”
Rob created this chandelier for the set of MTV’s Real World in NY. He was inspired by traditional lighting in Turkish mosques.
This coffee table was made from re-purposed lath — the material pulled from the walls of old houses. What would have been trash is now a piece of functional modern art. Rob says,”we love to make something from nothing.”
When a local designer approached Rob and Jeremy about building the focal point in a condo lobby, they weren’t sure how they were going to create it. They ended up making it from wood, carving and sanding the piece and sending it out to be gold leafed and lacquered.
Rob has been building furniture since he was 16 years old. After graduating from NYU, he took a welding class at Parson’s School of Design and loved working with his hands. He started out building metal furniture and then apprenticed for Dakota Jackson to learn the craft of woodworking. Today, inspiration comes from the world around him.
On a recent trip with his wife to the Brick Works Farmer’s Market, Rob bought a bag of walnuts. He’s been experimenting — cutting and glueing them together. He came up with a small sample of a pattern/design he’ll be using in a line of tables the Carroll Street Woodworkers will be producing. Some will be left natural, topped with glass. Others may be bronzed. The idea is eco-friendly, organic and, I think, incredibly chic.
Don’t you love the tactile appeal of this look?
A great table is often hard to find. Here are a few more designs Jeremy and Rob have created.
These clever scrap wood stools are made from solid black walnut finished by hand with rubbed oil and wax. Great as tables or stools.
This push button desk is ideal for a laptop. A large hidden drawer pulls out from the left hand side and the three button holes on the front store pens and pencils. It’s also made of black walnut, finished with hand rubbed oil and wax.
If you want to learn more about The Carroll Street Woodworkers , check out the company website here. Photos courtesy of The Carroll Street Woodworkers.