Furniture maker Steven Tiller of Reclamation Art + Furniture has been busy the past few months. His latest large commission involved designing and fabricating the majority of the interior furniture for the highly anticipated restaurant Beast + Bounty at the Ice Blocks development in midtown.
This isn’t the first time the artisan has been hired by restaurateur Michael Hargis and his team to outfit a space. Tiller also crafted much of the furniture for Block Butcher Bar, a project that still brings him attention almost four years later. “It’s nice to get compliments on stuff you’ve done in the past that is still in play and functioning the way you hope it would function,” says Tiller.
For Beast + Bounty, oak, leather and brass are the main elements behind the Scandinavian- inspired look that Hargis wanted to achieve. Tiller says that the two work in tandem to come up with designs that will achieve a particular aesthetic.
“Mike has a vision of what he wants the space to look like. He’s really good about sharing images of the look and feel he’s going for,” says Tiller. “Then we come up with pieces that fit into that style that aren’t necessarily copies of what he likes but are in the same vein and will work with the space. He’s really great about collaborating in that manner.”
Tiller, who also crafts residential pieces out of his downtown workshop, says that designing for restaurants means thinking more carefully about the engineering of the furnishings. “We have to consider that a commercial piece is going to have hundreds if not thousands of people sitting on it over the course of its life, so those pieces tend to wear down faster,” says Tiller. “We have to keep that in mind when we’re trying to get the look we want and still make it industrial enough that it will hold up.”
While commissions for commercial spaces are a creative challenge that Tiller finds rewarding, his dream project is to build an entire residence from the bottom up. “I am a fan of the smaller-space, higher-quality mentality,” explains Tiller, a former general contractor. “Not necessarily a tiny home, but a well-defined small residence with high-quality pieces. A small-space cabin is something I’ve been mulling over for a long time.”
In the meantime, Tiller is pleased with the direction that his bespoke furniture business is going, especially after the economy nosedived nearly a decade ago, leaving many craftsmen like him scrambling for work. “We’re gaining momentum as the years go by, and we’re grateful to get this work.”