Tripp Gregson came up with the idea of using vintage road signs in his creations by asking himself “How can I solve this technical issue and still use recycled materials?”



“I was building a bookcase that was supposed to be mounted on a wall for a woman,” Gregson says, “She was very artistic and had lots of colorful things in her house. I had been making things out of recycled wood that were very ‘woodsy’ looking, but I never wanted to paint anything. She said, ‘I want something colorful,’ so I made a colorful bookcase and when I was finished, it boiled down to just a technical detail. When you build a bookcase, you want to have a backboard on it to keep it from racking diagonally. So I thought, ‘what would be a good backboard for that sort of thing? It’s already recycled. How about a street sign? That would be fun.’ And it just kind of got going from there.”



Thus began the Jazz Series, from TrippworX, Gregson’s one-man company. Road signs, recycled lumber and funky acrylic paint jobs are used to create bookcases, wall cabinets, mirrors, stools, occasional tables, and even briefcases and purses.



Gregson jokes that the vintage road signs he uses in his creations are retrieved legally, courtesy of his local municipality and scrap yard. “I’ll get there (the scrap yard) and they’ll give me a hard hat and a vest and I go through 4000-5000 pounds, sometimes up to 10,000 pounds of signs, just to get about five to 10 percent of that. I cherry-pick everything,” he says.



As for lumber, Gregson says that deconstructing old houses is a good source, but warns it can be dangerous. “I’ve had boards pop out with nails on them. It’s nasty, because if you get to the point where you’re deconstructing a house, it’s usually condemned,” he says.



Though he strives to use 100 percent recycled materials, Gregson says that he occasionally makes exceptions. “If you are doing wholesale, you have to have some sort of replicability,” he says. “I used to use only recycled materials. Now, I find that I try to just mix it up. I used to go crazy, trying to find wood and glue it up, and my price point was too high. I thought, ‘I can’t go broke making these things.’ So I decided that where it needs to be, I would utilize a product that I buy and mix in the recycled portion and get the same message across. I was able to bring the price down.”



Gregson also uses the “mix it up” philosophy in his 750-square-foot shop, utilizing everything from CNC equipment to a hand-made hand plane he made when he was in school. He says that there is nothing that goes into constructing and decorating his products that he does not do every bit of, which suits him, just fine.



“It’s satisfying,” Gregson says. “It’s important to do what you like doing. Every woodworker or artist has different tools, both in their head and in their shop. You use what you have to make something that makes you smile because chances are, it will make somebody else smile as well. Beyond that, you can say all kinds of flowery mission statements and all this other stuff, but a lot of times it boils down to something that simple. If you get to do that, that’s a pretty cool place to be, because not everybody gets to do that.”



For more information on TrippworX and its creations, visit www.trippworx.com.


Tripp Gregson, of TrippworX Design Studio.
The "Park it Here" cupboard (left), and The Velocity Display Cabinet (right) are both from the TrippworX Jazz Series.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.