"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trial by Fire: Furniture Designer David Rasmussen

Material possessions, our stuff, the things we love and live with are temporary -just ask furniture designer David Rasmussen whose studio in Carbondale, Colorado burned to the ground one night last November along with more than $100,000 of equipment, tools and hand-made furniture.

"It felt like my career was over," says Rasmussen who describes watching the small factory burn on a night so cold the water froze in the fire hoses. It was gone. "All gone." He was not insured. "Mistakes happen," he says, "and sometimes we pay dearly.

Luckily, talent and spirit are impervious to fire. "I haven't lost everything," says Rasmussen in a fundraising video. "I still have my hands, my mind, and the momentum...it's from inside that ideas are sketched, lines made smooth and shaped into the designs that drive my existence." 
With a new goal of rebuilding a studio that will allow him to produce the high-end furniture he describes as, "a post-modern, mid-century mix", Rasmussen intends to standardize some of his designs so he will be able to produce more of them. 

To fundraise, Rasmussen has applied for grants and held an art auction. He is also seeking financial backers on a fundraising website, called, Kickstarter

 Kickstarter works by allowing supporters to "pledge" to buy an item (from $5 and up) in order to meet a financial goal and deadline. In Rasmussen's case this goal is to reach $15,000 dollars in pledges by July 13, 2012. If he receives enough pledges to meet that goal, the fundraising project will be considered "funded", the credit cards of the donors will be charged, and the items purchased shipped accordingly. If the goal is not reached, the donors will not be charged, and the project will be over.

As of this writing, Rasmussen has 30 backers pledging $1,930 dollars. With less than 20 days left, there is a long way to go.

"The pieces I'm making right now are being made from wood burned in the fire. There's something powerful in taking something out of the ashes to build something new."    

Rasmussen's WUD plates and trays -part of the Kickstarter project -are made from a single piece of walnut or maple wood and were on display at the Dwell on Design show in Los Angeles last week. The plates are finished with oil to allow years of maintenance-free use and finished with brightly colored rims in lime, blue, orange and yellow.

"Maybe someday I'll look at these months and only see the positive reflected back at me," says Rasmussen, "because then I'll know where this is leading me. But right now it's hard to see..."


  1. Love the plates and trays, but the back story really brings the designer and the heart of the products to life. Thank you for sharing this great find and story!

  2. Thank you for sharing this story. A Phoenix can only rise once there are ashes. He's a talented artist ... I hope he keeps his eyes open to the lessons, even though it's currently hard to see.

  3. Thanks for sharing your comments! I think we are all rooting for him! No matter what, I believe he will be sharing his talent for a long time to come! Thanks for stopping by This American Home!

  4. I have wanted to start writing in my site like that. I will add your rss feed.

  5. Terrific! Also, as an update to David's story -he made his goal on Kickstarter and is off and running to rebuild his company. Hurrah!


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