Following is the full interview we did with Ross Stangler of Stangler Works. Part of it ran in our monthly email, United Update, which is sent to subscribers around the 26th of each month. To join the mailing list, enter your email address in the field near the bottom of each page of our website.
We'd been fans of Ross Stangler's work for a while, but when he ended up our booth neighbor at a holiday show last year, we got to know the man behind the cool furniture and other rad items. Behold, the owner/designer/maker behind Stangler Works.
Hey, Ross! Tell us about you.
I grew up in rural Minnesota. I attended Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, Minnesota, and have a degree from Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Furniture Design and a minor in Printmaking. I did a furniture internship and was later employed at BDDW in New York. Locally and nationally, I've worked with several different groups to develop restaurants and bring them from concept to completion. I’ve moved from working for furniture designers, to collaborating with furniture designers, and now I’m working primarily on my own projects.
My lady Liz and I just moved to a sweet little mid-century house on Sweeney Lake in Golden Valley, which we’ve been restoring and remodeling, along with our 1969 speedboat, True Grit.
When did you start Stangler Works, and how did it start?
I started Stangler Works in college about a decade ago with the original goal of “making cool stuff for myself.” Nothing has really changed, except now I make cool stuff for Liz.
What do you offer?
Stangler Works specializes in custom furniture design. As well, I offer an assortment of modern home goods, jewelry, and sporting equipment, including table tennis paddles and custom skateboards.
What makes Stangler Works different?
I love using every last bit of a piece of wood. It’s a nose to tail approach, I suppose. I also love to use humble materials, to bring out their best and challenge myself to make the simple luxurious.
Have you always had an interest in working with wood?
Since my LEGO years I've been interested in building things, but it took a long time to find furniture making as my vocation. I began college with the intention of doing printmaking, and it wasn’t until my junior year when I built my first piece of furniture in a mandatory class that I met my match.
What is the best part about what you do?
I love getting to know people and designing their "forever furniture," knowing that my work will become permanent parts of their homes and families, and be heirlooms that they are proud to own. Also, daydreaming.
What is the most challenging?
Critique from my better half.
How can United nation help you with that challenge?
This cannot be helped. [laughs]
What are your goals for Stangler Works?
My goal is to grow Stangler Works to where I can do it full time, and to partner with Liz to refine and expand the business. We plan to start milling our own logs so we can be involved from start to finish with the furniture, as well as become a resource for other furniture makers and individuals who are seeking to buy slabs and dimensional lumber.
As we are now lake-dwellers, we intend to soon try our hand at designing and building paddle boards, and more importantly an epic sauna boat.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid I wanted to be a professional snowboarder and an artist. (I won my first drawing award in third grade.) The plan was that when I retired from snowboarding, I would design the art for the bottom of snowboards. While I did end up working as a snowboarding instructor for several years, I quickly moved on from my original career plan.
What are five things you think people would be surprised to learn about you?
1. I don’t know how to drive a stick (and almost rolled back into a Porsche in a hilly town in the south of France).
2. It took me three days to go to the hospital after breaking an arm because I didn’t believe it was broken.
3. I built a 5-foot-tall papier-mâché heart for David Letterman because he insulted my home town of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He threw it out of a fifth-story window on his television show.
4. I hate following recipes.
5. I have a standard poodle named Dog Angelo, and I groom him myself.
We're shoe-aholics. So, what is a favorite pair of shoes you’ve owned/you own, or what is a favorite shoe memory you have?
My favorite shoes are a pair of old Chippewa boots that Liz gave me. They were her father’s, and had (sentimentally) been collecting mouse poop in the garage at her cabin. I had them resoled and restored, and now they're one of my favorite pair of work boots.
Find Ross and Stangler Works here:
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