Tell us about your business.Launched 15 years ago, Troscan is a successful Midwest manufacturer of furniture and upholstery crafted at the highest level of making. All designs are made in the U.S. at our Chicago headquarters and in the surrounding tri-state area. Troscan exemplifies the vision of founders Deirdre Jordan, a designer and interior architect, and Bob Robinson, a master wood worker and luthier. In launching Troscan, Deirdre and Bob sought to combine the Heartland’s heritage of artisanship and rural-made manufacturing with a reverence for modernism. Bob and Deirdre are on a constant search for new ways of thinking and making. When no solution can be found for turning log tables without cracks and breakage, for example, Deirdre and Bob will invent their own proprietary method, and even invent their own machinery to accomplish a desired result. Deirdre and Bob are also passionate about finding sustainable sources. Selecting highly figured woods that would typically be made into pulp is one such example.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.Troscan partners with rural makers across the U.S. in fields such as woodworking, smithery and bronze casting. Our homebase is our Chicago manufacturing facility, which is located in the city's Ukrainian Village. We are next door to a boxing studio and across the street from a maker of pierogies and borscht. Our 19th-century building houses our factory on the 1st floor, where we employ 10 full-time craftspeople. They produce our custom designs with care and consideration in unique small runs. Whether marrying steel with limestone or hand selecting the individual grain of a white oak veneer, each craftsperson brings a world of experience to our collection. Each piece is limited-edition and signed by its maker. On the 2nd floor is our maker gallery called Room406. Room406 features Troscan furniture, handcrafted accessories, art and rare artifacts. Not just a showcase for exquisite objects, Room406 also features inspirational exhibitions and events, serving as a platform for local makers.
What inspires you?We find that the design process itself is a source of inspiration for us. We like revealing the way furniture is made by exploring form and materials. A joint, a texture or a material can provide inspiration for an entire collection.
What makes your business stand out?There are many reasons why our business stands out. First, we are not simply starting up today—we have been in business for 15 years and our longevity proves that high-quality American manufacturing still offers a viable—and flourishing—business model even in today’s cut-throat global economy. Also, we not only employ traditional trades in our work but we find new ways to make these jobs relevant today and into the future—pushing materials and inventing new applications for these techniques and, thus, saving jobs. And thirdly, not only do we promote the concept of American Made within our own business but also within an extended network of U.S. artisans and makers. We tap the knowledge of artisans and craftspeople in our own furniture line and also promote this work in our new maker gallery, called Room406. American Made is not just a buzzword for us. It’s what we live and breath every day.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?Though it is hard to do if you are a creative person, establishing a routine and organizational method for capturing and retaining ideas is super important. Simply sketching away in notebooks works for some of us but not all of us. At Troscan, we find that we need to establish methodologies for containing our thoughts otherwise we are all over the place!
What does American Made mean to you?The concept of American Made has been at the heart of our business from the very first day. We are an American manufacturer that proudly uses sustainable sourcing and U.S. labor. We provide living wages and benefits. Our efforts strengthen traditional labor trades and help preserve rural ways of living. In addition, we view our work as an ongoing effort to bring authenticity to design and honesty to materials. Because of this transparent design process, sourcing and making our furniture locally has always been a part of our mission. For example, we recently began working with a family-run sawmill in rural Indiana that has been producing small-batch lumber for generations. Knowing the origin of our wood gives respect to the process of making and consuming. Walking out into a muddy forest to select trees for lumber, we personally become a part of that process. It is this sense of integrity and value that, in turn, we give back to our customers by building furniture to last generations.
Mark Your Calendar
NominationsJune 3–Aug. 29, 2014
Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.
JudgingJune 23–Sept. 9, 2014
Judges will select finalists throughout this period.Meet the judges
Online VotingSept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014
Vote for your favorite American makers.Vote now
Winners AnnouncedOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
American Made EventNov. 7–8, 2014
Join us for our annual event in New York City.Buy tickets now