Philip Holman - Thursday, March 31, 2011
The USS Greiner, on which my father-in-law served during World War II.
To emphasize our determination to manufacture and preserve jobs in America, we are displaying the American flag that flew on the warship that my father-in-law served on during World War II in our High Point showroom.
It reminds us of the sacrifices made by so many Americans who give their lives to protect the privileges we enjoy today. It symbolizes how lucky we are to have the freedom to live, work and play in such a great country. It calls out to all who pass by that our furniture is MADE in AMERICA.
We're passionate about what we make and where we make it and it hurts to see so many jobs lost from this country. It's not easy being in business here, but then again, business is not easy anywhere!
To compete with the world in our industry, we know that we have to be innovative, fashion focused, passionate, efficient and constantly evolving. We're actually seeing an increase in orders and have expansion plans, so it's obvious to us that our market likes what we are doing.
We will be showing table tops that an artist makes for us by melting glass and pouring it into molds. We've expanded our Warehouse Collection which features our signature metal frames and tops made with wood reclaimed from shipping pallets. We've added floor to ceiling mirrors (with acid etched mirror) and small upholstered stools to this collection. We made some display trolleys with metal frames and used old pine boards that we got from a Dutch cheese factory as the tops. (Come early, there are only a few available). New transitional and contemporary glass top coffee tables and drink tables by designer John Kolkka are spectacular. We even commissioned a local artist friend of ours to make us a line of jewelry that combines the same elements and techniques that we use in furniture making. Charleston Forge and jewelry, it's a natural!
It's all simple yet sophisticated, casual but elegant, imperfect but perfect. If that flag could talk, we think it would say, "Well Done!"
Thanks for reading,
Co-Founder & CEO
A Selection of Our New Products for Spring 2011
Top Left: The Tangle Pub Table and Counterstool.
Top center: The Warehouse 72" Cocktail Table
Top right: The Cascade Table with cast glass top
Bottom left: The Cheeseboard Display Cart
Bottom right: The High Country Console
Philip Holman - Thursday, March 24, 2011
Behind the scenes again: One of our Blacksmiths forging a solid 1x2-inch, piece of steel for a custom base.
The table-top that will go on it is a beautiful cross-section of a 34-inch wide parota tree.
Philip Holman - Tuesday, March 22, 2011
We thought we'd share some more pictures from our North Carolina workshop. Top left, hand-forging tapered legs for a prototype table. Top right, powdercoating (painting) a steel chair frame. Bottom right, the welding of a custom console being finished up. Bottom left, a blacksmith's sketch and his tools sitting by his workspace. Just more evidence that at Charleston Forge, it's always American Made.
Philip Holman - Thursday, March 10, 2011
My grandfather, of German descent, was a very creative guy. He wasn't an artist, that I know of, but he was always conjuring up something that nobody else had thought of, or if they did they had never acted on the thought.
Back in his day, most homes that were fortunate enough to have some sort of central heating burned coal. The furnace was in the basement so one had to carry the coal in buckets from where the coal delivery truck dumped in the yard to the basement. Pop, as we called him, poked a hole in his basement wall and installed a motorized conveyor system that delivered the coal to a bin right beside his furnace. He never patented the system that he created but he should have.
Sometime back in the late 1940's he made an elaborate Christmas tree stand that would take me too long to explain, just know that he loved having people over to their house to have their picture made by the tree. Honey, my grandmother, held the camera and Pop would always tell his friends (soon to become his victims) to look at the tree and touch it so they didn't look so posed in the picture. The moment they touched the tree, he mashed a button and the tree would fall right into the friend's arms. Honey would always catch the terrified looks on their faces as they thought they had destroyed Pop and Honey's beautiful Christmas tree. We have hundreds and hundreds of pictures of their friends with the funniest looks on their faces. That tree stand still exists but I think the last time my Dad rigged it up in the house I grew up in was over forty years ago. Those of you who remember the TV Show called Candid Camera, they once contacted my Dad to see if they could film it but Dad turned them down. It was our secret to keep until now.
I'm no artist either but I think some of Pop's creative chromosomes worked their way into my life. The beautiful little table that we just gave away reinforces that in my mind. He was always thinking of things to do or make that not everyone else would even dream of. I'm in the furniture business and it's a fashion business so I'm always dreaming of shapes and components and techniques and colors and whatever I can do that not everybody else is doing.
The cast glass top on this little table has been laying around our shop for several years. I knew it was something special because I haven't seen this type of glass used as a table top anywhere in the industry. It's made by pouring molten glass into a mold, causing it to cure with gentle waves and wrinkles and air bubbles. It's not perfect, but it's perfect. It's a slow laborious process and we couldn't introduce it into the market because the source we got this piece from couldn't deliver the quantity we'd need. Finally, we found a glass artist who is able to provide the quantities we need, and like me and Pop, he is creative enough to figure out how to make it work, so here we go.
Congratulations Vicki, you just won something very special. Copies are sure to come, but you have an original. If you take care of it and this story, I'll bet that when the next generation rolls around, some kin of yours will have a very valuable piece of American made furniture from Charleston Forge. Thank you for wanting it so bad and appreciating it so much.
Philip Holman - Monday, March 07, 2011
We've found that people who visit Charleston Forge love it when we take them around our workshop and show them how our furniture is made. From forging the steel frame parts, to welding, to cleaning up, to painting the finished pieces -- it's a fascinating process. Visitors get to watch skilled artisans use very basic elements -- steel and fire -- to make great furniture.
So we are inviting you to come visit us here in the beautiful High Country and see for yourself what goes into making Charleston Forge furniture. Tours are Tuesdays between 9 a.m.and 3 p.m. and you must call ahead to make a reservation. Below left is an image of our powder coating system in operation, below right is one of our welders at work on a baker's rack. For more images from our workshop floor check out our Workshop page on the website. If you're interested in scheduling a tour give us a call at 828.264.0100. We look forward to seeing you.
Philip Holman - Saturday, February 26, 2011
On Friday I drove to High Point, North Carolina, the location of one of the world's largest and longest running furniture exhibitions, to meet with some very talented women. They are helping us set up our showroom for the April furniture market there. Our mission is very simple, make our customers say "Wow"! Riding with me was one of five MBA students from Appalachian State University who are helping us with various projects at Charleston Forge. I knew she would love this day.
I'm a very visual person so they took me to Anthropologie, a very hip women's clothing, accessories and home decor store in Greensboro. They said, "Look, Listen, Smell, Feel, Understand... DO IT!!
I saw fresh colors, unique layout, and great presentation. I heard good music, energetic music, power but not pounding. I could smell the fresh flowers, and the candles burning, not sweet, just right. I felt the texture of the clothes, the reclaimed wood and the barely finished metal components of floor mirrors and display racks and the yarn that some creative genius arranged to form a display that just made me think, "how simple, how cool"! The result? Smiling customers, happy sales people, busy sales people, and a busy cash register.
On many levels I saw similarities between what we do here at Charleston Forge and the great things going on at Anthropologie - but I learned a great deal too. Thank you ladies. It was a great day. I get it! LET"S DO IT!
- Art Barber, Chairman/CEO
Philip Holman - Thursday, February 24, 2011
My wife and I were watching ABC news with Diane Sawyer one evening several weeks ago when at the end of her show, Ms. Sawyer announced that ABC would be buying a house and totally furnishing it with American made furniture. As Americans, determined to keep making furniture in America, Susan and I instantly looked at each other and breathed a sigh of relief and excitement. Finally, a big news agency is going to give those of us who have fought so hard to keep making furniture on American soil some national recognition. What a boost that could be! And then, the thought, "what if our company and the area where we live got some of that exposure!!" Probably not going to happen. We're a small company tucked back here in the hills just doing our thing, and what are the chances they would know about us.
Three weeks later, sitting in my office, the phone rings. "This is ABC NEWS in New York and we're initiating a project that will feature furniture that is made in America". I immediately hit the mute button on my phone and screamed for Susan to come to my office right away. She heard, as my witness that it was one of Diane Sawyer's contributing reporters and we got interviewed right then and there. After the call, the reporter sent us her contact information by email and then we checked her out on the web. Can you imagine the sight of two grandparents running and screaming through the office telling our staff of what had just happened! We called our parents, our friends, our vendors and our banker. Wow-can this be real?!!
The next day there are emails flying all through our industry about the ABC News project encouraging everyone making furniture in America to contact ABC to get in on the project. What a compliment!! They had already contacted us. Whether we are lucky enough to land on national tv or not, this will bring exposure to the furniture industry and especially to those of us who have fought so hard not to send our jobs overseas. Thank you Diane Sawyer and ABC and congratulations to all of you American manufacturers--no matter what you make!!
You can link to the ABC News clip here: ABC News: A Call to Buy Goods Made in America
- Art Barber, Chairman/CEO
Philip Holman - Tuesday, February 22, 2011
We're excited to be launching our new website and re-introducing
ourselves to our many long-standing friends, clients and customers. We've been building great furniture for many years and are continuing to spread the word about it.
"Made in America" is not just a phrase at Charleston Forge, it's our passion.
It's the result of a desire to create beautiful products in a wonderful
country and to come to work every day feeling good about what you make
and where you make it. Our furniture speaks to that. We have no assembly
line, no fast-paced production.
For more than a quarter of a century, our artisans have combined age-old
blacksmithing and woodworking skills with the finest quality materials
to create products that are made to be used and enjoyed. There is no
machine made that can match the sense of pride and hand that shows in
Solid steel, solid wood, durable leathers, designer fabrics, a multitude
of finishes and a desire to serve make us a good choice for your next
Think of us when you need classic and casual, and you want American made.
- Art Barber, Chairman/CEO