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The Whimsical World of Dust Furniture

The Whimsical World of Dust Furniture

I recently ran across a unique furniture company and wanted to share their work with you.  Their furniture appeals to my quirky side – the side that has always loved the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss.  Take a peek, and you’ll see why.

Dust Furniture owners, husband and wife team Vincent and Jessie Leman, started their furniture adventure in 2005, shortly before they were married.  From the start, this couple has shared nearly everything; besides sharing a home and a company, this duo even shares a birthday!  

Vincent (an engineer) and Jessie (a graphic designer) make a great team, each imparting their strengths to the company.  Although Vincent had the background in woodworking, he is quick to credit Jessie for the success of their company.  “Dust would not exist without Jessie’s contributions,” he said.   

Jessie came up with the company name, helped to create a line of reproducible furniture (an alternative to building just custom-commissioned one-of-a-kind art pieces as Vincent had been doing) and helped build the furniture, while Vincent did much of the design work and furniture building.

Dust Furniture Spark Table

Although Jessie now spends much of her time on uncommon, their home decor line found on Etsy, she still does all the graphic design work for Dust Furniture.  { I highly recommend that you check out uncommon, too, because their line of wood clocks, chandeliers and wood doilies (yup!) are unique and fun. }

Vincent shared with me a little of what inspired his unique furniture line:

“I grew up building very traditional, square cabinetry.  I became frustrated with people’s lack of imagination; straight lines because a table saw cuts a straight line and brown wood because wood is naturally brown,” he said.  “There is nothing wrong with straight lines or brown wood when it’s an active choice, but most people default to these design options rather than choosing them.  So, I was primarily inspired by a desire to explore new designs and to create designs that pushed beyond the limits of orthodox, traditional furniture design.”

Dust Furniture Trophy Wife CabinetAs I browsed the Dust Furniture website, I found it hard to choose my favorite piece – so many fun colors and whimsical shapes!  I finally settled on the one of the more expensive items on their menu (I have great taste…what can I say?):  Trophy Wife. (see pic at left). I love the humor in the name, and the juxtaposition of the straight lines in the cabinet with the graceful curves of the bookcase.  But, I’d have to place Stacked Cabinet No. 6 (see pic below) a close second.  Vincent also has trouble deciding which of his pieces is his favorite:

“My choice of a favorite design tends to shift based on what I happen to be working on at the present!” he said.  “But, my all-time favorite piece is Stacked Cabinet No.7. (bottom photo). It’s a great example of some of my favorite design elements:

  • It exemplifies my abstract/traditional design style by including traditional design elements such as arches, feet, moldings, etc.  It looks and feels like furniture, its familiar in that aspect, but the style marches well beyond!
  • It’s a stacked design, which is a favorite design element of mine.
  • It has nice movement and flow with a lovely spot of contrast where the two pieces meet.
  • Its scale and design give it incredible visual impact without overrunning a space.”Dust Furniture Stacked Cabinet 6

Despite the success of Dust Furniture and uncommon, Vincent insists that he and Jessie are just regular, boring people outside of their creative work:

“I grew up as the youngest of four children in a conservative farming community called Francesville (population of about 1,000),” Vincent said.  “I spent a lot of time exploring our woods, drawing, taking photographs, making things out of clay and building cabinets.”

“After graduating from Purdue with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I started building furniture and eventually met my wife, Jessie.  We were married on January 7, 2006, and just a month after that we took our new little line of furniture to a wholesale show and our business took off!  It’s been a crazy ride.”

“Today we live in Valparaiso, Indiana, which is not only a lovely community, but also close to Chicago, the beach and our families.  For fun, Jessie and I like to garden, spend time with our friends, we’re active in our church and I like to brew beer.  We hope to have a family soon; we’re also looking for a house and hope to have a puppy soon, as well!”

Dust Stacked Cabinet 7Currently, Dust Furniture can be found in dozens of galleries around the country.  It is also available direct, via their website.  I have seen their furniture in person, and it is high-quality, well-made stuff.  If you are lucky enough to leave hear a gallery that carries their line, be sure to pop in to see for yourself.

The next time you are in the market for furniture or home accents consider checking out some of the smaller companies owned by families all around America.  You may find a one-of-a-kind, handmade item no one else will have, and you’ll be supporting your friends and neighbors in the process – folks like Vincent and Jessie.  I can’t think of a better way to furnish your home.


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