The smiling gentleman above is Ryan Dirksen, founder and builder behind Where Wood Meets Steel – one of Denver’s most innovative furniture makers.
I’m sure he has plenty of reasons to smile, especially when he continues to make pieces like these on his homepage, but more recently, it was because of his new Bespoke Edge shirt.
To be more precise, it was a shirt that he designed entirely on his own after we approached him to help us with our summer project – the BE Colorado Style campaign.
If you recall from our earlier blog post, we set out with the ambitious goal to learn what men’s style is all about in the Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins area.
This week, we are diving in.
And first up is Ryan. We sat down to ask him a few questions, here’s what he had to say.
1. Can you give us an idea of your beginnings in the custom furniture business?
What began as a woodworking hobby in a small apartment in San Francisco gave way to a welder, table saw, and more ambitious projects. One we moved to Denver, I soon found myself following the sounds of chainsaws through the neighborhood, by foot or bike, to hunt down the latest casualty. I convinced the tree companies to save the larger chunks and soon our yard and garage were stacked with wood – trees turned into slabs by a local mill, old railway beams sold on Craigslist, various specimens collected on road trips to the Midwest.
After years of professional cooking, low pay and grueling hours, I decided it was time to work for myself. Marina, meanwhile, was commuting to Boulder and working long hours at a stressful job with freelance web work on the side. As an alternative, we considered an offer to buy a restaurant in a small mountain town. During this time, I had also taken on a large project building out all the fixtures for an upscale boutique. We soon came to realize that the restaurant was too risky for us while this new passion for urban trees and furniture design was undeniable. We decided to stay put in Denver and put all our energy into this new venture.
2. What has been one of your most memorable projects to date?
Our first large job was building all the displays for a new clothing store, A-Line Boutique, in Greenwood Village. Having just started the business, we were still working out of the garage and backyard and built out the entire store. Eight years later we still have a great relationship with the new owner and have designed and built pieces for both the store and the owner’s home and friends. It has been a great relationship both personally and professionally.
3. You seem to source some very unique materials for your designs, what do you look for when you’re hunting for just the right piece of wood or steel?
It is actually usually the opposite. We have an ever growing inventory of local slabs and it is often the wood itself that informs and inspires the design. Each tree is different and surprising – you never know what you will get. We do certainly source other materials, including wood, for our clients, but our favorite projects are those that allow us to turn a stunning piece of wood otherwise destined for landfill into a piece that people will enjoy for generations.
4. Ryan, can you describe briefly the thought process behind your shirt selection for our Colorado Style campaign?
I wanted a shirt that was versatile and could be casual or dressy. White goes with everything, but the fabric I chose had a pattern that changes with the light. This paired with the mother of pearl buttons, accent fabric and colored thread made for a shirt that was unique, but could still feel at home in a bar or a swanky restaurant.
5. What’s the future of Where Wood Meets Steel look like?
We will continue to work on our high-end custom designed furniture and semi-custom product line. We are also expanding our milling operations and growing our impressive inventory of local urban slabs and lumber.
Do you like this shirt? You can buy it here!
Where Wood Meets Steel
A quick glance at WWMS’s website will convince you right away that they are making some of the most unique wooden pieces in the area. Check them out if you want something truly one of a kind.
5280 Profile: http://www.5280.com/magazine/2013/02/sharp-design
Contact Ryan here.
About the Colorado Style campaign:
Bespoke Edge set out on an adventure during the summer of 2015. Hoping to answer the question, what is Colorado style for men, we interviewed 6 of Colorado’s most innovative creatives and asked them to design a dress shirt – anything that they wanted. This blog post is the first of 6. We will summarize our findings at the very end. Stay tuned.