Taylor Donsker Design

American Made Since 2012
2014 Design Finalist

Taylor Donsker

Los Angeles, California
A small Los Angeles based industrial modern furniture company designing and handcrafting pieces to age gracefully through generations of use.
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Tell us about your business.

After graduating from the USC School of Architecture and working in a world renown architectural firm, I traded my suit and tie for an old pair of Levi's and work boots. Preferring the workshop environment over the office, I understood that a piece of furniture could be designed and handcrafted in a matter of days, as opposed to the multi-year process of creating a building. Almost entirely self-taught, I attended a wood shop class in high school and an auto body class the following summer, learning to weld and work with metal. These two brief courses, combined with my appreciation of modern architecture attained through USC, have led to a line of industrial modern furniture playing off of both metal and wood elements. My designs are constantly evolving as I hone my skills and learn to work with new materials. Despite a constantly growing list of clientele, I plan to maintain a relatively small workshop similar to my idols, Sam Maloof and George Nakashima.

Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.

Initially fabricating out of my parent's garage, I was fortunate enough to be offered a shared space with an LA based architecture firm. For the last year, I have taken residence at a workshop in Santa Monica, California near the established art gallery facility, Bergamot Station. The workshop is divided in half, allowing for metal fabrication and woodworking in the same space. Preferring to work with hand tools, but choosing not to shun the efficiency provided by machines, the sounds of the workshop vary from the tapping of a hammer upon a chisel, playful banter amongst our team, the trumpet of Miles Davis, and the hum of the various electric saws.

What inspires you?

I aspire to have an absolute interest and partial knowledge of everything. My inspiration for woodworking stems from a three month trip across Asia, where I visited ancient Japanese and Chinese temples, constructed entirely of wood and built by hand. Music also plays a large role in the creative process, whether it be listening to Little Dragon at the workshop or watching Hauschka perform live, designs just seem to emerge. I am also fascinated by modern architecture and the nearly hidden details that often go unnoticed, the effortless beauty of trees, and the furniture of Sam Maloof and George Nakashima.

What makes your business stand out?

We have a fearless approach to design. A client once asked for a concrete sofa, and having never worked with concrete, I devoured every single article and textbook I could find on the subject. While others may consider our lack of formal education in working new materials a weakness, we see it as our strength. Approaching problems with an open mind allows us to create both fresh and functional designs.

What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?

The most important word to remember when starting a new business is perseverance. The first year was definitely the hardest, filled with ups and downs, and crickets while I was praying for orders. But, by consistently pushing my work through social media, it began to trickle down through the internet and the clients that I had been hoping for began demanding my products. In regards to young designers, I would recommend that they design around their means. Each project is an experiment that should offer insight into your unique skills and interests. Allow your designs to evolve and constantly think of ways to improve them.

What does American Made mean to you?

A few years back, I heard a statement on the radio while choosing between architecture and furniture making. At this point I was working 8 hours a day at the architecture firm and 8 hours a night at my workshop, chasing my dream. It went something like, "The problem with Americans isn't that they cannot compete with the Chinese, it is that Americans no longer work like Americans." This statement had a profound effect on me, making me realize that when you are creating things that you can be proud of and that others can enjoy, your attitude towards work completely reverses. Work is no longer a chore, it is the backbone of the American dream.

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