When you think of modern design, lofty images of metropolitan cities that are epicenters of art (usually European) come to mind. Sometimes we forget that great expressions of modernism can come from the most unexpected of places. Take rural Minnesota, for example.
Matthew Eastvold grew up in an area that wasn’t readily exposed to modern design. Yet when he stumbled upon it in college, it inspired him to create his company, Eastvold Furniture, which has all the elements of a truly modern furniture company.
It all started with the Elko Coffee Table, with its distinctive mid-century modern frame and colorful metal legs. The use of clean lines and classic, yet functional silhouettes stuck with Matt, and now he has created a collection of modern furniture that will stand the test of time. With a penchant for sustainable production methods and always a healthy dose of traditional craftsmanship, it’s no wonder that Eastvold Furniture has gained notoriety as a manufacturer and purveyor of modern wood furniture in an American context.
In his own words, Matthew Eastvold describes his journey to find his own brand of modernism:
How did you get started in the furniture business?
My dad owned a metal fabrication business that I grew up working in. But I really loved working with wood, so I started building furniture using wood and leftover metal in our corner woodshop. I gradually got into some local stores and things progressed from there.
You say that you were not exposed to modern design while growing up; how did your interest in modern design develop?
I didn’t start noticing and obsessing about modern design until my college years in the Twin Cities. There was a modern furniture store down the road from campus and I would stop in and study what they were building, and I realized that I loved the simple lines and juxtaposition of raw materials and fine wood.
Can you describe your home for us? How has the Minnesota landscape and culture influenced your furniture pieces?
Our house turns 100 years old this year! It is a Dutch Colonial with high ceilings and lots of windows with white painted trim. The furniture is a mix of mid-century classics, new modern designs and a few of our own pieces. The Classic Coffee Table prototype is still in our living room and holding up well after 15 years of use!
Sustainability seems to be a cornerstone of Eastvold Furniture, as well as quality craftsmanship. With that said, what is your design process?
When designing a piece of furniture, I try to balance high quality, smart use of materials, and efficient production. We have a small staff but turn out a lot of furniture. To keep our pieces locally made, it is important to design pieces that are efficient to produce yet high in quality.
Let’s set the scene. How would you describe your workshop? Do you work with a large team or on your own mostly?
We bought a newer building last year that is spacious and bright. It is close to our home, which is great because our kids can ride bike to the shop after school, and they are learning to use tools and build fun things for themselves. Our core team is four, but we often pull in extra help for large orders or busy times.
What is your favorite piece you have ever designed?
I would say that Elko Credenza is my favorite because of its flexibility to be changed. There have been countless versions requested by customers for their specific uses.
What is it about modern design that appeals to you?
I really hate clutter, and I feel like modern design tries to put away the extra stuff and leave what is necessary.
Additionally, how would you describe your personal brand of modernism for today?
I would say that we are working to develop simple pieces and spaces that have warmth and an organic feel, rather than a sterile feeling.
Finally, what’s next for Eastvold Furniture?
We are continuing to work on new designs and have recently bought a CNC machine, which will allow us to be more efficient and explore new ways of doing things.
Ever since receiving her first home décor magazine at a young age, Sarah has been drawn to the design world, leading her to work creatively as the Marketing Production Coordinator at YDesign Group. When she is not gushing over interior design on the interwebs, she is usually writing about it. In her off time you can find her hiking, enjoying a nice long brunch, and exploring the awesomeness of Northern California. IG: @sarahwinningham