Handcrafting & Communication Lasts through Generations
Lying in a hammock under white pines, I count the tiers of branches to recognize the years the tree has stood sturdy over the space. Generations ago, old-stand white pines were harvested to stand tall over ships and the merchants who made America. Living and harvested woods — both — have been invaluable parts of business and culture for generations. Now, in a warehouse where Red Hook winds whisper tales of a manufacturing past, Pickett Furniture is using new ways to communicate to drive the business of building pieces that last in harmony with the wood.
Our first connection with Pickett through his tweets. At the #promise conference, @PickettFurnitur spoke honestly and was funny on the live twitter feed. Exploring his blog and tweets, we saw that he embraces new communication and practices in tune with our conviction: old ways of communicating for business are dead. Pickett’s voice and engagement online is driven by and driving an authenticity that is absent in old communication. Twitter, his blog, and facebook highlight the humanity of business and are relationship builders and creative tools.
We sought out owner and founder Jeremy Pickett to put a face to @PickettFurnitur. We were thrilled to be invited into his workshop on a hot summer afternoon to see the sustainable business in action and enjoy the breeze off the East River.
Says Jeremy, “We learn from each other. Small business and design can be fueled collectively online, and I think it’s the best way for me to reach and maintain relationships with customers. It’s no longer a world of building relationships with a few interior designers and then selling through them, customers can come from anywhere, and so do new ideas.”
Pickett started in Manhattan and moved soon after to its home in Brooklyn. There, Jeremy builds his sustainable pieces — tables, chairs, benches, and other unique pieces — out of wood harvested by a family in Delaware. He searched long and hard to find non-toxic and sustainable wood finishes that would be compatible with his hand-tool and sustainably harvested approach. He found them at Surface Environment in Bushwick.
Pickett’s hand tool approach allows him to build a relationship with each piece of wood he works. By “showing respect for the material, you avoid its desecration, and get a better end-product,” explains Jeremy.
Visually, he maps the grains and veins of the plank. Tactically, he feels the undulations of the wood. “I read it, feel it, and then learn to anticipate its reaction to me,” he explains. Then, he uses hand tools to “massage it” into sturdy, vibrant structures that bring spirit with them into their final destinations. “It’s the gentlest process possible” and requires that you work with the wood, not against it.
Pickett’s harmonized approach is informed more so by the natural flow of air off river and the earnest quality of the Red Hook neighborhood it calls home.
“Generosity and kindness have marked our experience here in Red Hook,” he says. “This place is filled with families who have been here for generations and value their neighborhood.” It’s a perfect match for his approach to pieces, made to last for generations. And there, on Pier 41, underneath the shadow of the Queen Mary II and alongside other artists, manufacturers, and small businesses, he builds his wares.
And, though he makes his way to Hells Kitchen for cocktail parties and design shows with the New York furniture and interior design scene, he has found a way to bring his wares to market in a way that harmonizes with the material. Jeremy’s approach is driven by the pieces, his exploration, and their online voice.
Indeed, Pickett has designed a communication approach that allows him to build authentic relationships and also showcase his innovations through conversation and idea-sourcing. It fully embraces new communication.
For the coming season, Jeremy has a collection of retro textiles from Scandinavia and Asia that will be made into different pieces. He also is experimenting with bamboo, which in its raw form is extremely sustainable, and malleable in a way that walnut and other materials that are the core of his collection, are not. Now, following him online and connected to Pickett, we are eager to see what he comes up with.
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Tags: Biz GHormley, Brooklyn Business, communication design, Heller Communication Design, Pickett Furniture, Red Hook, Sustainability