An interview with 57st. design
It was a sunny spring day when I walked in to the workshop of 57st. design on the south side of Chicago. Gorgeous planks of wood were scattered throughout the shop, and you could feel the gentle vibration of machines running. In the corner, standing in a pile of sawdust, the owner Sam and an employee were finishing a piece together.
I came across 57st. design while searching for furniture and immediately fell in love. Each piece was beautifully crafted and focused on simplicity, rare in today’s “fast fashion” economy. I reached out to the owner to see if I could visit the shop to learn more and left feeling inspired and excited about the future of furniture design.
Sam and Pia started 57st. design in 2016 after recognizing a hole in the market for well made, affordable furniture. They aspired to provide products at a price point which reflects the true cost of quality craftsmanship and quality materials that’s made in America. Each piece is designed and manufactured in house.
Sam’s father is the owner of 57th Street Bookcase, a company he originally started in the 80’s to house his own book collections. His father was particular about how his pieces were built, focusing on craftsmanship and traditional joinery details. He describes himself as a reluctant businessman who’s true love was talking with clients about their book collections and a mutual love of reading. Two years ago Sam came in to help run the steadily growing business. He began designing and fabricating pieces for himself and those around him. This sparked the idea to create a new company, 57st. design.
Each piece is designed by Sam, with a focus on simplicity and function. He describes the furniture as “anti-designed”, and understands that each object is a part of a larger business ecosystem. As stated by Sam,
“The goal is to encourage people to be more thoughtful with their consumerism.”
The company uses sustainable sourced domestic hardwood, and hand finishes each piece. Hand finishing is not used as a marketing tactic, but to enable the end user to be have the ability to fix the piece if it gets nicked or damaged. Repair kits are included with each of their larger pieces from their collection. The clients should be able to buy a piece and have it last for decades, or pass it on to their children.
The company is rapidly growing, and Sam’s enthusiasm and passion about what they’re creating is infectious. I’m excited to watch them evolve and influence the way the furniture industry works. With pieces designed and crafted as beautifully as they are, this is a company I am happy to stand behind.