I first came across Stefan Rurak’s work at the Architectural Digest show in Manhattan. Two things immediately struck me about his furniture. First, he was using redwood reclaimed from NYC water towers which was beautiful. And the second was the incredibly deep ebony colors of some of his pieces, that I later learned, he achieved through a process of burning, sanding and oiling the wood.
So naturally when he invited me to come visit the SR shop in Bushwick, I jumped at the chance.
Rurak, rents a small space from a large commercial furniture company. He’s got access to an amazing shop, and in his corner of the shop he’s producing some really nice custom pieces.
Rurak says he enjoys making chairs the most, because of their functionality and because people interact with them more than other pieces like tables and dressers. Also, they have to be made well to last, and he likes that challenge.
“I can only think of two pieces I’ve remade,” he says. “I think it something that makes my work unique. It challenges me.”
The day I went to visit him he was working on a sling chair, made of a series of turned pieces of white oak that he had just finished. He would, he said, eventually be getting the leather and sewing it himself to complete the chair.
Rurak came to woodworking from a background in art, and he says he sees himself more as an artist who works with wood, than a woodworker. That creativity is readily apparent in his massive portfolio of custom built furniture.
Though Rurak’s pieces range in style and function one thing that does seem to tie his pieces together is his insistence on showing off each joint. While some furniture builders like to hide the joinery, Rurak prefers to show them off as little signatures of quality and craftsmanship.