Furniturea: Rural Modern
SHOP TALK – February 2014
by Veronique McAree | Photography Amanda Kowalski
Portland furniture designer Brian Haddock combines the rural with the modern, the clever with the cool. The result? A delightful collection from Furniturea.
When it comes to furniture, Brian Haddock is picky. So he decided to create his own.
A carpenter with more than 30 years’ experience restoring buildings, including some on the National Register of Historic Places as well as new, contemporary houses, he has discriminating tastes. He appreciates clean design, interesting use of color, and quality materials.
As his clients’ requests for custom work and furniture grew, Haddock realized furniture design was a natural extension of his fine carpentry work. “I liked the idea of crafting practical, beautiful, and a bit unexpected pieces for people’s homes,” says Haddock.
Haddock made the leap in 2006 when he launched his line of furniture under the name Furniturea (pronounced fur-ni-chur-ah). He handles all design and manufacturing, while his daughter, Malia Haddock, takes on sales and marketing, including the website and lively company blog.
The collection, housed in a lofty retail showroom, is eye-catching in shape and the way it’s made: of kiln-dried maple and birch hardwood harvested from the forests of New England and eastern Canada and shaped in his workshop just down the road in Westbrook.
Haddock has always been drawn to the details that make up New England architecture. His tables, chairs, shelving, bureaus, armoires, and more marry functional forms borrowed from rural building construction with a modern spin and unique use of color. He explains, “The work often references architectural elements and is about simplicity in form that allows proportions, materials, color, and craftsmanship to shine through.”
Perusing the collection is like a joyride on a rural country road. Nineteenth-century Shaker techniques are the inspiration for Haddock’s armoires and chests, while rustic Adirondack camps are at the root of his Shutter Back chair and bed. The lattice that surrounds shingled beach cottages is the impetus for a bed, while the distinctive Maine timber frame barn is reinterpreted as a cool side chair. Every piece has a story—and Brian and Malia Haddock are more than happy to share it.
Color is also a significant differentiator of the Furniturea collection, and the showroom in Portland’s Old Port is akin to a big crayon box of 70 lovely, original hues. While many of the colors are on the eye-poppingly bright side, Haddock says customers are equally drawn to the quieter shades of beige and gray. In keeping with the company’s standards of keeping things as local and eco-friendly as possible, the environmentally safe paint is made from scratch by a Vermont company—and it can be customized to match a customer’s needs.
In addition to the paint color, customers can pick and choose design elements; roughly 30 percent of Furniturea’s orders are custom.
Recently, Furniturea welcomed upholstered furniture from Gus into the Furniturea mix, which offers yet another way to find something pleasing to the eye—and home. Also discovered: an assortment of pillows, napkins, and rugs that mix and match with the collection too. Take a field trip to Furniturea—it promises to be a colorful one!
1. Over the years, Furniturea has built a niche in modern bedroom spaces. Customers appreciate the clean lines, use of light, and made-to-order storage as seen here in the Shutter Lamp, More Square Bureau, and Bird on a Fence Bed.
2. A modern trio includes Furniturea Bureau with six drawers, Gus Modern Carmichael Sofa, and pillows by Malia Haddock.
3. All the designs are available in 70 colors. The finishes, made from scratch in Vermont, are water based and durable. And yes, Furniturea offers complimentary consultations.
4. Furniturea is a family business, made up of Haddock and his daughter, Malia, shown here. The workshop is composed of a small team of skilled craftspeople who have worked together for over 15 years.
5. The Furniturea mantra: “It’s all about styling.” The designs are equally suited to nineteenth-century farmhouses as they are to modern lofts. The team’s greatest satisfaction comes from helping customers imagine Furniturea in their homes, alongside existing antiques and other contemporary furniture.
6. Furniturea-designed textiles are made in the USA and include pillows, pillowcases by Malia Haddock, napkins, and runners.
7. Good design is in the details. The Board and Batten Bedside Crate (shown here) features a slightly skewed, decorated batten. Sitting on top is a succulent terrarium by Malia Haddock, the perfect accent piece.
What is it about Maine that inspires your work?
“We’re always inspired by the built and natural environment of rural Maine. Old camps, cottages and farmhouses—how they were first constructed and how they’ve aged over time.”
3 tips on adding colorful style into your home?
1. “Evaluate what you already have (your walls, floors, and furniture), then determine what you like and what needs to go.”
2. “Use your instincts: We all live in a world full of color. Start taking note of what you respond positively to, and start integrating those colors into your home.”
3. “Take a risk! Think of furniture as fashion. Oftentimes it’s the risk we take that becomes our stroke of genius!”
“We’re always designing! In the queue is a modern slab dining table, an expanded line of upholstered furniture from Gus, counter-height seating, and more interior textile offerings.”