Nashville – Even furniture can be green. And a new line of sustainable, artistic furnishings honed from harvested railroad crossties and rails is demonstrating that a commitment to the environment can be both stylish and livable.
Rail Yard Studios, a unique design firm founded by a Tennessee family of serial entrepreneurs, is bringing its “Rescued and Reused” line of artisan furniture made from railroad materials to Evanston’s American Craft Exposition at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion at Northwestern University in Evanston Friday, August 24 through Sunday, August 26.
“People who appreciate furniture-as-art will enjoy these crafted pieces with their raw earthiness and natural feel,” said Robert Hendrick, industrial designer and creative force behind Rail Yard Studios and the furniture line. “They strike a balance between rustic and modern and make quite a statement about how creative we can be at re-purposing natural materials that might otherwise be discarded. We’ve been flattered by reactions to the line.”
The collection includes seating, desks, tables, coat and wine racks, even beds, all made from repurposed railroad ties and rails dating back as far as 1898. The rescued and reused wood and rail were destined for scrap until Rail Yard Studios stepped in and turned them into beautiful, functional furniture.
Recycling at its best!
Each furniture-as-art piece is both eco-friendly and individually numbered with a railroad date nail – also salvaged. Railroad crossties used to be marked with a date nail to indicate the year of production. These nails are scavenged from the tracks and date back as far as 1901, so every piece carries its own unique story and history.
The Rail Yard Studios line has already caught the attention of art lovers, having been showcased in several regional art galleries and art competitions in Atlanta, Nashville, Chattanooga and Chicago.
“The unique features that make the timbers unsuitable for carrying 380,000-pound railcars are the very ones highlighted in the pieces,” Hendrick said. “The imperfections are beautiful. They’re what make the woods interesting.”
Hendrick holds a Masters degree in Industrial Design from The Ohio State University. Once out of college he took a different career path than for which he studied, pursuing technology and industrial entrepreneurial opportunities, never expecting to return to design, especially after acquiring a railroad contracting firm in 2001. But his formal training finally lured him back into the creative arena in 2009 when he joined his father, Jim Hendrick, in weekend carpentry in his workshop. Dad passed on the love of wood to his son, and the two launched the company in 2010.
“Several of the pieces on display at the American Craft Exposition will be for sale during the event,” Hendrick said. “For people seeking something a little different that makes an architectural or style statement, we may have exactly what they’re seeking. I’m certain it will be different than anything they’ve seen before!”
Source: Rail Yard Studios
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