At CUTmodern we think we live in pretty interesting times, where some of the best products are designed and produced by creative local artists. Our site is built around that single concept, where we advocate for small independent designers who create high quality modern pieces for the home.
We support products that last generations, and we’re teaming up with a group of brilliant designers to help tell the story behind their designs while making a difference by reducing the environmental and social impact through the products we sell.
We hope you enjoy the stories we share in this weekly Behind the Design series on IAMTHELAB.com. Today, we’re sitting down with Kylle Sebree of KYLLE Fine Furniture and Furnished/Modern.
Behind the Design: Kylle Sebree of Furnished/Modern
:: How did you get into design of furniture / home goods? How did you go about learning the skills?
I have always liked working with my hands. At university I studied exercise physiology with a minor in art, never thinking the minor would be of any interest. After graduation, my wife and I moved to Hawaii with no jobs and a small savings. I received a job managing a fitness center at a local resort, and after two weeks, I turned in my two weeks. I knew I had to pursue something more creative. I then held a series of odd jobs which led me to work for a finish carpenter. I didn’t like the carpentry work, but I loved working with wood. After a few months my boss saw some of the furniture I built for our home and made the comment that I could make a living at it. Totally surprised, I was all in from that moment on.
I found a formal school where I could learn the basics of woodworking (which happened to be in San Diego) and within a year my wife and I were living in California. I was even more fortunate by gaining an apprenticeship under one of the area’s best studio furniture makers. The next year I applied to a couple schools where design and craftsmanship would be emphasized the most. I was accepted to the Inside Passage School of Fine Woodworking in British Columbia. I feel like the time spent there is what gave me the confidence to get out on my own and pursue my dream.
:: How long does your design process typically take?
That is hard to say. I feel like I’m the type that has an idea in the back of my head and it might sit there for a few months, almost like my sub-conscious is working out the kinks before I put it to paper. So, probably a lot longer than it should take. But after it’s on paper, which usually consists of a very rough sketch, I might move to using cardboard to get an idea if the proportions look right. On some of my custom pieces I will do a full-scale mock up with an inexpensive wood such as poplar. But on the contrary, the lamp consisted of no drawings or mockups; just a lot of time holding four sticks of walnut together, shaving them down until I liked the shape. Then, figuring out how to join the four sticks at the top, all in all, about four days worth of “that doesn’t look right.” I haven’t found that one way to work is better than the other, but it is all an enjoyable process. I usually learn more about myself along the way than I do about design.
:: What piece(s) of work are you most proud of?
Probably the first piece I completed after getting out on my own, the curved Claro Walnut coffee table. I always prefer, when possible, to use wood that has been air-dried and not baked in a kiln. The air-dried wood maintains a color and workability that can’t be found in kiln-dried wood. So with this piece, I was able to mill the wood from tree, to work bench, then into a final piece, a rare opportunity for sure.
:: What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I love the ocean and surfing has been a part of my life since a teenager. I really enjoy gardening too; nothing beats homegrown veggies!
:: What would you do if you weren’t an artist/designer?
The total other end of the spectrum, a businessman, one who wears Italian suits everyday with no socks and has enough frequent flyer miles to upgrade to first class every time he travels with the fam.
:: What are some of your favorite blogs or design resources?
I am not a big blog follower and rarely go to them for inspiration, but I know there is great material out there. Most of my work so far has been inspired out of the need for it in our own home; I love the creative process when it comes directly from a need. I do get inspired from the network of designer/woodworkers I follow on Instagram, particularly the people in Japan. I find their style of woodworking/design and attention to detail to appeal to my aesthetic.
:: Are you digital? If so, where can we find you?
Instagram – kyllesebree
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