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What Inspires Our Creativity

   |   By Kelly

Working At The Design Board

We look to natural materials, modernist aesthetics and traditional craftsmanship for inspiration.

Real. Traditional. Natural. Fun. Simple. Those are some of the watchwords of Pfeifer Studio. Our designs are useful as well as beautiful. At the end of the day, our clients are specifying our products because they fulfill a need, whether that be a side table upon which to rest a drink, or a place to sit in a hotel lobby. We design statement-making pieces with that in mind.

Developing Product in the Workshop

Hand Finishing A Wooden Cabinet

Delight & Creativity in Design

Handmade pieces that have an artisanal quality and can be created one at a time or in quantity, often for hospitality and commercial spaces, that is our forte. Hand-painted and turned log tables crafted using traditional techniques for a lobby. Carved wood benches for 1500 rooms in a Southern California hotel. Side tables for three dozen balconies in Dubai. Each piece is unique, distinct, and adheres to our demand for quality, authenticity, and minimalist modern design. 

We want each piece to delight, because the studio has been a commercial venture since our founding in the late 1990s. We don’t do gallery shows or think about our furniture as setting the world on fire, despite our successes. We design and create great-looking, functional furniture that meets a demand. Right now, our sculptural end tables, solid wood benches and hand painted artist tables are in high demand. One day those may very well trend out and we’ll move on to our next thing. Dedicated to sussing what’s going to be of interest to commercial interior designers and architects, we create within our mantra of natural materials, graphic shapes and bold form. This has allowed us to respond to what our clients have wanted since our inception.

Walking In the Materials Yard

Drying Logs in the Solar Kilns

We love being off the beaten path, creating fun, useful pieces using natural materials that show the hand of the maker.

Outside the Workshop

The Design Process

People always assume that we are based in New York or California, but we are, in fact, located in Bernalillo, New Mexico, a small town of several thousand that has long been home to lumber mills that sourced their timber from the nearby Jemez Mountains. Our location across a rural byway from one of these mills puts the raw materials – giant pine, spruce and fir trees harvested from the Western forests of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, California and Utah – within easy reach. 

Initial design work happens in our crowded workshop, with our designers overseeing every aspect from concept to finished staining or painting. Large orders are fulfilled in our India workshop, which we visit often. Pinning, paging through design magazines, and creative brainstorming sessions between our designers, artisans and artists result in a wall of tacked photos, sketches and inspirational objects in our design office. Adding to the design board is a way to get an idea out of our heads and into the creative mix.

Shop Drawings

Our designers in New Mexico have collaborated since the beginning with New York-based interior, jewelry and product designer Michele Cernoisa. Sketches and questions fly to and fro over email, always keeping client's requests and desires in mind. We might also think about variations on what we already do, considering the limitations of the wood. To do larger tables we need larger diameter logs, but we can’t get them. So how are we going to make a bigger table and fit it into this collection? Do we try a different wood? Do we try a glass top? That all goes into the design process. 

We also look to other sources for inspiration for new products; Mexican art and culture; the bold shapes and lines of the modern sculpture of Brancusi; the natural materials, traditional craft and woodworking techniques we observe in India, Africa and Latin America; Asian minimalism; African art and aesthetics. We frequently travel the globe to refresh and inspire our signature style. The first stop is always the museums followed by the artisan markets. A traditional Mexican folk-art motif might appear in our next design as a carving pattern on a table, or a vivid abstractly painted canvas hung on a museum wall might inspire one of our popular hand painted artist tables. 

Our designers initially come up with an idea and then our craftspeople help us to figure out how to build it. We’ve been working lately with a fine artist here in New Mexico who has designed a table inspired by one of her sculptures. Then, our artisans, either here or in the India workshop where about half our products are built, help us create the finished pieces. There’s a lot of back and forth.We don't take ourselves too seriously, though. We’re not trying to change the world or push the boundaries of design, that's part of the reason Pfeifer is headquartered in the Southwest. At the end of the day, we don’t want to be in LA or New York all the time, places where design is most prevalent and where most of our pieces end up. We love being off the beaten path, creating fun, useful designs using natural materials that show the hand of the maker.

Looking Over Finish Samples

Certainly, we’re influenced by trends, but we put our own spin on them. We are always thinking about how to make something new. About what's next.

Our favorite designs are often the most recent, although some perennial best sellers, like the classically shaped Ring Stool Table are always close to our hearts. But we don't get sentimental about past designs. We’re not driving the future of design or creating products that have never been made before. 

Certainly, we’re influenced by trends but we put our own spin on them. We are always thinking about how to make something new. About what's next. It’s the new, different and other that’s the driving creative force behind Pfeifer, within the framework of our cadre of materials.

Whimsy, Fun & Inspiration

Whimsy and fun also play a part in Pfeifer’s aesthetic, as well as practicality. Hand painted artist tables bring abstract and geometric color and pattern to the traditional shapes of cube and cylindrical tables. A new piece in development, a side table made from stacked woods in different sizes and stains, evokes stacked books in a bibliophile’s library, the Pfeifer twist on an acrylic table pinned to the inspiration board. 

In this table, the variety of edges – some are curved, some straight, some slanted – is our spin on the original, now completely different and eternally variable. Should it be taller? Monotone rather than several colors? The process between designers and artisans continues. Whatever the final decision, the table will recognizably and undeniably fit the Pfeifer aesthetic of authentic, rooted in traditional, simple and modern.

Developing Product in the Indian Workshop

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