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SACRAMENTO FURNITURE MAKER Trent Dean is having a great run, especially for someone who’s been practicing his craft for just a couple of years. Dean’s eye-catching tables, stools and plant stands have gained a local following and the mutual admiration of fellow artisans. He’s been tapped to design the furnishings for a highly anticipated restaurant. And national retailer West Elm is selling a handful of his products through its program promoting local makers. We sat down with Dean recently to learn about how he found his creative calling and where it has led him.
Trent Dean at ArtStreet installation
Dean grew up on a family vineyard in Lodi, where he learned to enjoy working with his hands. Creativity has long been a part of his life. “I’ve always had some sort of artistic outlet,” he says. “When I was younger, it was drawing. When I was in high school, it was ceramics. I did some photography for a bit. So there’s always been something.”
FORAY INTO FURNITURE
Dean tried his hand at furniture following his move to Sacramento after college. His first project was a coat rack. “I had a lot of fun making it. Then a couple of my buddies saw it and asked if I could make one for them.” He soon fell in love with the process of designing and building original pieces. “On the one hand, it was physical, so I could get my hands dirty. On the other hand, it was mental or intellectual in the sense of design and problem solving. And I couldn’t deny that I enjoyed people liking my work.”
After working out of his father’s garage for a while, Dean eventually set up shop at Hacker Lab, a move that “took everything to the next level.” After taking welding and woodworking classes there, he was hooked on making furniture. “Every spare moment, I was reading articles or watching YouTube videos about how to do different welds,” he says. “I’ve been sober for seven years, so the addictive behavior essentially got transferred to this. It was such a positive thing. It has been a perfect outlet for me.”
Last winter, Dean was accepted into West Elm Local, the retailer’s exclusive program for handmade goods. A limited selection of his products is being sold at stores in Palm Springs, San Diego, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Emeryville, Mill Valley and Roseville. And Sacramento restaurateur Clay Nutting has tapped Dean to design the furniture for Canon, his new restaurant opening this spring in East Sacramento.
Dean, who lives in Warehouse Artist Lofts, credits Sacramento’s creative community for championing his success. “Everybody in the arts community was so welcoming,” says Dean. “They were so willing to help and share information: where to buy supplies, where to show work. They were so open about it, and so friendly, frankly. It blew my mind.”