Made in the South Awards

2013 Home Category

Woodworker Michael Moran merges an ancient technique with modern design

Photo: Tara Donne

Home Category Winner

Moran Woodworked Furniture
Product: Charred commode
Made in: Charleston, SC
Est.: 2004

From inside a two-thousand-square-foot former strip club in Charleston’s northern neck, Kentucky-born woodworker Michael Moran turns out sleek modern furniture with a whole lot of soul. Each piece—from bedside tables and benches to dining tables and cabinets—highlights the wood’s natural beauty through traditional craftsmanship and the conscientious selection of raw building supplies. “We know exactly where all our materials come from and whose hands they’ve passed through,” Moran says. “Those hands vary from little family-run mills to tree services to reclaimed wood sites.” A fortuitous delivery of storm-downed loblolly pines provided the creative spark for Moran’s new limited-edition Charred Collection. Charring—an ancient Japanese technique used to prevent rot and bugs—is achieved by binding together three boards (anywhere from eight to fourteen feet high) to create a makeshift chimney. The flames of a small fire at the base of the structure are then pulled upward, scorching the inside surfaces of all three boards to create deep grooves and patterns that resemble alligator hide. (To date, the fire department has shown up at the studio only once to survey the scene.) But don’t worry about soot rubbing off on clean duds or a new carpet; the boards are brushed and sealed without altering the showstopping aesthetic.

Price: $1,250

Home Category Runners-Up

Garza Furniture
Product: Leather cot
Made in: Marfa, TX
Est.: 2010

Jamey Garza and Constance Holt-Garza aren’t quite sure how to account for the popularity of their leather cot. Considering the twelve-week waiting list, though, they’ve clearly struck a chord. The husband-and-wife team landed in Marfa in 2003 to create custom pieces for Liz Lambert’s renovation of Thunderbird Hotel. Eventually, they set up shop in an old West Texas Utilities warehouse and began producing their own designs, including a line of saddle leather, wood, and powder-coated steel furniture that they sell through their Marfa showroom. Influenced by the simplicity and scale of the surrounding high plains desert, the cot’s straightforward design belies its multifunctional nature as a mobile sofa, a porch bench, dining room seating, or all-in-one guest quarters.

Price: $2,300

Product: Pottery
Made in: Eli Whitney, NC
Est.: 2012

High school buddies Mark Warren and Chris Pence pursued education and careers in other fields before turning their shared love of clay into a full-fledged business. The initial learning curve was steep: Starting out in a sharecropper’s cabin in rural North Carolina, they relied on a matrix of extension cords for power. But they soon found their rhythm, and by the summer of 2012, national retailers such as Steven Alan began taking notice of their minimalist line of slip-cast porcelain tableware. No surprise, considering every sculptural cup, bowl, and plate is as beautiful as it is functional. “Our pieces are made to fit within each other,” Warren says. “They need to look cool even when you’re not using them.” But with their relaxed elegance, Haand dishes are unlikely to see much shelf time.

Price: From $17

Southern Lights Electric Co.
Made in: Nashville, TN
Product: Hillsboro pendant lamp
Est.: 2010

Drummer Adam Gatchel began making lamps to kill time between music gigs.“It was really meant to be a hobby,” he says. “But then the first piece I put on Etsy sold within minutes, and it took off from there.” Inspired by turn-of-the-century lighting, Gatchel crafts purposefully built, beautiful fixtures. Today, he maintains a stable of fifteen customizable designs, including hanging lights, sconces, and desk lamps. In addition to his residential work, Gatchel is bringing his signature creations into the public eye. His Hillsboro pendants hang above the community tables at Barista Parlor, Nashville’s destination coffee spot. “When I left music, I was afraid to lose that sense of community,” he says. “But then I found this community building these cool creative things.”

Price: $175