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166 7th St
Brooklyn, NY 11215
USA

Bomb lamps, artillery tables, and armored credenzas - Stockpile Designs adds impact to your decor with a line of furniture and lighting using obsolete military equipment.

Blog

Stockpile Design's blog covers upcoming designs and prototypes, shows and events, and the design community of Brooklyn, NY. Designer Jake Wright shares his creative process, decorating advice, and anecdotes about starting a business and trying to deliver antique bombs across state lines.

Sandy Aftermath

Jake Wright

Hurricane Sandy has come and gone. Most of Brooklyn was almost totally unscathed – I didn’t even lose power. Manhattan was not so lucky. Yesterday I biked in with a friend, and the vibe was downright creepy. Like a post-apocalyptic zombie movie, if the zombies were looking for somewhere to charge their phones. The trains and most of the tunnels are flooded, and the traffic signals are out. Movement through the city is at a crawl, even with a car or bike.

Even though things are getting better quickly in Manhattan, it was a relief to come back home to Brooklyn, where electricity and hot water are promiscuously available. But from my window, I can see sections of the darkened Manhattan skyline, along with the collapsed construction crane on 57th street.

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10/28 Flea Moving to 11/4

Jake Wright

NYC Derecho

A quick note - due to the impending nor'easter/hurricane/armageddon, I had to cancel my booth at the Brooklyn Flea October 28. Instead I'll be showing the following Sunday, November 4. Assuming there are any survivors.

Gleam On

Jake Wright

  Ex Stasis  by Richard Lippold. A maquette just like this is in the Epner Technologies office. 

Ex Stasis by Richard Lippold. A maquette just like this is in the Epner Technologies office. 

For the last couple years, I’ve been doing my own nickel plating. What could be better for a young conceptual designer than working with highly toxic chemicals that need to be mixed in exact quantities? It was fascinating to learn and exciting when I got it right, but after a few encounters with boiling ammonia the novelty wore off. I needed to outsource.

I looked over many platers in New York City, and they seemed to fall into two categories. Modest labs that handle small batches from independent jewelry designers, and massive high-tech workshops that take engineering and aerospace jobs. The former didn’t have the kind of capabilities or turnaround that I needed, and the latter intimidated me. It would feel weird – embarrassing, even – to bring a cardboard box full of cluster bomb fins to a lab that sends its work into orbit.

When I called Epner Technology, a plating studio only blocks from 3rd Ward, the president of the company put me at ease. I told him about the cluster bomb fins, as well as their problematic, plating-process-ruining zinc coating.  He sighed. “You’re a real pain in the ass, you know that? Can you come by now?”

David Epner’s office had a kind of organized clutter. Every flat surface was covered with samples from the business. Complicated mechanical parts, pieces of jewelry, even basic hardware, all gleaming with gold like an engineer’s Versailles. The company has been in his family since 1910, and he recounted the history with relish. He pointed out a familiar looking sculpture on a cabinet near the door – a model of a Richard Lippold the company helped produce decades earlier. It turns out that Epner has a long history of working with artists, from major names like Lippold, Trevor Paglen, and Matthew Barney, to local jewelry designers and metalworkers.

David was incredulous that I’d had any success with my own plating (or that I’d survived it unscathed) and came up with suggestions for future collaborations, including a definitely-going-to-happen gold-plated Beacon. When I left his office, my notebook was scribbled with fresh concepts and new reference sites. One of these was his blog, a fascinating and well-written look into his industry and the company’s history. After reading the kind of work Epner does, I’m amazed I managed to snatch so much of his time.

Less than a week later, the fins were finished. They were paired up and rolled in white tissue paper, the way movers pack fine silver. Even the most corroded and rusty now had a flawless, bright coat of nickel. My work had been treated with the same importance and care as the satellite parts and fine jewelry that pass through Epner every day, and it felt empowering. When you’re a startup, you expect brusque treatment from suppliers and contractors. Your business just isn’t very important to them, and courtesy is extended on the off-chance that you’ll keep using them if you make it big. When a company that REALLY doesn’t need your business treats you as important, and takes your work seriously, it brings two thoughts to mind. One is that they’re well-run, and understand how much great customer service is worth. The other is that they want to keep working with you, because they expect you to succeed.

Stockpile at the Brooklyn Flea

Jake Wright

 photo courtesy Flickr user  Shawn Hoke  

photo courtesy Flickr user Shawn Hoke 

Stockpile is going to be at the Brooklyn Flea September 30 and October 28! It's on the Williamsburg waterfront between North 6th and North 7th streets - more details here. On the 30th I'll be sharing a booth with my 3rd Ward co-workers Chris Han, Solomon Siegel, and Alison Layton. I'll also be debuting my new bomblet jewelry and improved beacon lamps. (Never fear, non-New-Yorkers; everything will be appearing in the shop right afterwards.) Great design, panoramic views, and dozens of food carts - who can resist?

Major Re-Stock

Jake Wright

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The holiday shopping season still seems far off, but I’ve been working hard to build up my stock with larger quantities than ever before. I even found a professional plater (more on them soon) for better quality control, and I’m excited to use their capabilities for some new designs.

And for those waiting for Beacons – they’re coming soon, I promise! The fins are going to the platers today, and I’m spending this afternoon stripping and polishing. There are some serious upgrades to the design (no more cord switch!) and I’m hoping to offer an LED bulb option for the eco-minded. Stay tuned!

The (Awesome) Museum at Westpoint

Jake Wright

Westpoint is America’s oldest military academy, and one of its best colleges. Dwight Eisenhower went there. So did General Patton, Buzz Aldrin, and the infamous Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. (Full list available here.) The education is free, but to get in you need to pass a physical, have great academics, and (crucially) receive a nomination from a U.S. Congressman, Senator, or the Vice President.

The museum is also free, and you don’t need a note from anyone.

Westpoint is more than an hour from New York City, but it’s worth the drive. The campus is gorgeous, a collection of colonial and neo-gothic buildings hugging the Hudson river. A castle-like building (Olmstead Hall) houses the museum. Inside, galleries cover America’s military history, as well as tactics and weapons from the dawn of warfare. An entire hall is devoted to the development of firearms. Presented chronologically, they bring to mind a Natural History museum display of Darwin’s finches.

The historical artifacts are mind-blowing. Napoleon’s sword, presented to Eisenhower by Charles DeGaulle after the liberation of France. A solid gold pistol, hidden amongst Hitler’s personal effects in Berlin. An original copy of Japan’s unconditional surrender at the end of WWII.

What I found most interesting were the early versions of equipment still used today. Camouflage, now generated by computer algorithms, was originally hand-painted onto uniforms and helmets. One of the painted jackets looked like something a trendy Parisian would wear, except for the swastikas.

Maybe the strangest thing I saw was a “splatter mask,” worn by operators of early tanks. Those machines had a tiny vision slot with a thick glass window, but the glass had to be removed during battle if it got muddy or dirty. Without the glass, drivers could get blinded by shrapnel from bullets shattering on the tank. Slotted metal plates covered the eyes, while an incongruous chainmail veil protected the lower face. A 13th century solution for a 20th century problem.

Most surprising for me was a mess kit from a POW, which he had intricately carved and decorated during his confinement. What really caught my attention is that WE HAVE THE SAME NAME. Except for the middle initial, but it still counts.

The Macintable

Jake Wright

A while ago, I found a Mac G5 case somebody had thrown out. It had the right dimensions and storage capacity to make a fantastic end table. This was before I started designing furniture, so I bolted on some mass-produced table legs and congratulated myself on my handiness. I didn’t give it another thought until I started packing for my move to Brooklyn. I pulled the Ikea legs off and threw them away, promising to make it into a proper table once I got settled.

Months later, the proper table is made. I’m glad I had some walnut lying around, because the color goes really well with the silver case. Working with the angles in the legs was challenging but really fun, and I’m going to try incorporating angled supports in future designs. And finally, I’m adding the Macintable to the Stockpile line. While a G5 is hardly military equipment, this piece emphasizes the philosophy of intelligent re-use.

Plus I really like it, and this IS a dictatorship.

The Cache Table

Jake Wright

Cache Table Close-Up

After a lengthy prototyping process, the new Cache table is finally in the store! This piece wraps an ammunition can in white oak to create a sleek end table with a tons of storage. Featuring the original paint and markings on the can, the Cache table is an aggressive, sharp choice for a bold interior.

Fresh Identity

Jake Wright

I revised the Stockpile Logo around the start of the new year, but hadn’t gotten around to changing my business cards or identity materials. That changed when I got this awesome birthday present from my youngest sister:

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So now I had a fancy branded metal toolbox, but no current business cards. All that changed during an energy-drink-fueled all-nighter, when I made this piece of golden awesome:

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I got the cards printed by Influence Graphics, located here in New York. They’re a little more expensive than most online printers ($100 for 500 cards on thick cover stock), but they got my order turned around in under 24 hours at a really high quality.

Even though my background is in graphic and advertising design, I always procrastinate work on Stockpile’s identity. It’s so personal that I obsess over every detail, and am rarely satisfied with the results. My sister’s present nudged me into action, Now I’ve got a complete identity package, and she is totally forgiven for saying my logo looks like a coffee pot.

Back in the Bunker

Jake Wright

bedframe_prototype.JPG

I recently said goodbye to my miserable, tiny, run-down apartment in the East Village. My new place is huge, sunny, and I'm woken every morning by the sweet song of rush-hour trains. Now I live much closer to my workshop, and have the storage space to work on large-scale projects.

Speaking of large-scale projects, my modular bed prototype is finished! The walnut looks fantastic, but I want to experiment with less expensive woods to keep the final price down. Hopefully, I'll have twin and full frames in the store by the end of summer!

Sneak Peek at a Sexy Twin

Jake Wright

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I live in New York’s East Village, which is code for “I live in a $1700 closet.” My bedroom is about 90 square feet, and if I lean back at my desk I’ll usually hit the bedframe.

Like many single people in New York, I’ve got a full-sized bed. This is 14″ wider than a twin – still too small for two people to share comfortably, but wide enough to use substantially more floorspace. The only reason I bought a full was because a twin would have made me feel like a child.

This is understandable – most of the twin bedframes available in the US are specifically designed for kids and teens. So I’ve been working on a twin bedframe with adults in mind. Keeping with my military design ethos – modular components, durable materials, and an industrial aesthetic – I’m nearing completion on the prototype. The headboard, footboard, and legs are solid walnut, bolted to welded steel side-rails and supports. The headboard and footboard can be swapped to widen the bed – allowing you to upsize (or downsize) according to your space.

I’ll be posting photos of the finished prototype later this week. After sleeping on it (pun!) I may offer it for sale with a range of wood options.

How to Open a Cluster Bomb

Jake Wright

The cluster bomblets I use in the Beacon lamp are unused rounds designed for target practice in the Vietnam War. They’ve been crated for 40 years, and the spring-loaded fins are usually still waiting to be triggered. The first step for making a new set of Beacons is “popping” all the un-triggered bomblets. It’s really fun, but it’s MORE fun to convince other people to open them and watch their reactions. Ashley, 3rd Ward’s awesome new front desk attendent, even let me film it…

Stockpile Featured in New York Magazine

Jake Wright

This made my day, if not my entire week. The retail collaboration with 3rd Ward at the Dekalb Market has only just begun, but Stockpile is already featured in NYMag’s “Best Bets” featurette. Here’s the page (70, for those keeping track at home):

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Spotted it yet? Look a little closer:

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OK, so it’s a small photo and a brief summary, but it feels tremendous. This is my first mention in print, and New York Magazine is a really big deal (at least in New York). Even though it’s a minor mention, I’m framing the article. It’ll look very dramatic hung next to a feature article in Dwell or Architectural Digest.

Steel Jewelry and Housewares from Munjoy Metals

Jake Wright

munjoy_avocado.jpeg

I share a shop (3rd Ward) with a lot of very talented artists and designers. One of my metal-shop buddies, Abigail Lloyd, just put her first online store together. When I met her, she was welding elaborate sets for an off-broadway play, but the goods in her store are smaller scale: rough-hewn steel jewelry and housewares. The pieces have a very fashionable barbarian-queen-of-Soho vibe, and are extremely affordable (for now): earrings start at $30, and theavocado bowl shown here caps the collection at $150. Keep an eye on Abigail and Munjoy Metals – if my first store looked this good, I’d be running an empire by now.

A Big Batch of Bombs

Jake Wright

blitz_shop.jpg

I had a production hiccup this week, when my workshop's sandblasting machine broke. It's wired directly into the wall, and nobody knows where its circuit breaker lives (given the convoluted layout of 3rd Ward's factory space, probably somewhere in Connecticut). I fixed it, using a Chinese-made switch that sparks when switched off and misspells the word "on." Confident in my technical ability, it was time to play catch-up.

This meant a day just for the Blitz lamps, which are still on a one- to two-week backorder. Not only am I trying to reduce or eliminate my customers' wait time, I'm  making a separate stash for 3rd Ward's upcoming shop box in the Dekalb market. That meant blasting, polishing, and sealing 11 bombs at once - a personal best!  This photo is all of them drying in the spray room, before the final coat of laquer. Looks a little like a photo from a Soviet manufacturing textbook.

Incredible Mines from Estonia

Jake Wright

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While researching naval mines for an upcoming design, I came across this fantastic furniture and sculpture from Estonia. The sculptor, Mati Karmin, uses the remains of Russian mines made during WWII. Incredibly, these mines remained active until the early 1990s, at the end of the Soviet occupation. Hundreds of mines were left behind, basically as scrap metal.

Karmin has transformed these mines into furniture, aquaria, fireplaces, and sculpture. Check out the website to drool over his work, or (if you’re like me) drool over the prospect of turning one of those mines into a capsule chair.

Peter Domorak, Photographer

Jake Wright

peter-domorak_homepage.jpg

A few months ago a photographer named Peter Domorak contacted me through Etsy. He was working on a portrait series of NYC designers and their work, and offered to trade some free product shots if I posed for him.

I have very little experience with that kind of editorial photography, but Peter was charming, professional and immediately put me at ease. The portraits are the best photos of myself I’ve ever seen, and I’ll be using those product shots for years to come. Check out his website – if you need a photographer in New York, I can’t recommend him enough.

3rd Ward Trunk Show Photos

Jake Wright

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3rd Ward, my studio space in Brooklyn, had a trunk show featuring their resident artists and designers. It also featured an open bar, so it was a pretty fantastic night all around. Check out the gallery to see all the incredible work on display.

The Stockpile table showcased designs I’ll be selling in my first ever physical retail collaboration – 3rd Ward’s upcoming store in Brooklyn’s Dekalb Market.

photos by Liz Clayman.

The Site Re-Launches

Jake Wright

jwright_portrait.jpg

Things have been busy here in the bunker.

Last month, Stockpile Designs was featured on Thrillist.com, which led to an overwhelming (but greatly appreciated) number of orders. I started spending full days at the shop, building lamps and designing furniture. After a few weeks, I had a wonderful and terrifying realization:

This is my job.

A year ago, I left my day job to focus on my design work. The giddy rush of independence was tempered by harsh realities of freelance existence: irregular pay, exorbitant insurance, and the hours wasted every week scrounging for gigs. It was slow going for a while, and sometimes it felt like Stockpile would never get further off the ground. When the orders finally started rolling in, I realized that for the first time Stockpile would be paying my rent. I was elated. The years put into this company, late nights spent with a sketchbook, even the scars on my hand from inexpert use of a chisel – they’d led to something fantastic.

And that’s where the terrifying part comes in. Running your own business is like flying an airplane you built yourself. If you make any mistakes, you’ll be lucky if your biggest problem is a broken jet. But every second you spend in the air is ten times more exciting than a second spent flying somebody else’s.

This blog is where I’ll make updates on new designs, new press, and the process of running a tiny business in New York. I imported posts from the old blogspot blog, which I wrote right after making my first few pieces.