By Lauren Brocato By Lauren Brocato | July 13, 2022 | Home & Real Estate HBCH Profiles
Logan Square woodworking studio JLF Projects introduces Offcut—the furniture company that makes wood waste into the chicest of home decor.
The Offcut showroom displays the brand’s latest drops.
How does an interiors business deal with the fact that waste is an inevitable factor in the production process? For woodworker Jason Lewis of JLF Projects, the answer is Offcut (3951 W. Belden Ave.). After several years of slowly developing the concept while accumulating piles of leftover scrap wood from his custom furniture business, which processes thousands of feet of solid hardwood into furniture annually, he launched Offcut last July. “I had the idea for a line of designs that made use of this material on an ongoing basis, each week releasing a new piece that draws on whatever scrap is on hand at the time,” Lewis shares, adding that the scraps are often beautiful hardwood pieces far too beautiful to discard.
Not only does Offcut tackle the practical problem of figuring out how to use scrap in a sustainable way, it also allows Lewis and his team to experiment with new design avenues. “The aesthetic of Offcut goes hand in hand with the philosophy—let the materials do the talking,” he says. “We [lean] toward clean, contemporary designs that are simple but with an element of surprise. We are always trying to avoid the ‘reclaimed furniture’ look that is a bit overplayed now. For that reason, and because most pieces are formally on the more minimal side, we love to experiment with surface and color treatment, using paint and stains to tie together mixed materials or add drama to simple shapes.”
The fresh, local designs are at once simple and masterful, and each exudes a distinct character you won’t find anywhere else. “The pace of having to make a new object every week calls for experimentation, quick decisions and keeping it simple,” Lewis says. “The spontaneity of it, combined with the rigid timeline, can lead to really interesting ideas surfacing that might otherwise get overthought and filtered out.”
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Each week, new creations are posted on the brand’s Instagram and sent out via email blast. Pieces are also on display at the Off cut showroom in Logan Square, opened just this summer, along with artworks from local gallery Bird & Tale, as well as pieces by Off cut’s co-designer and manager, Lesley Jackson.
Right now, the line is only in its inception: A collaboration with the Designed Objects program at the School of the Art Institute, an open house and scrap giveaway day, and new production processes and releases are all still on the horizon. Off cut is indeed one to watch.
Photography by: PORTRAIT AND SHOWROOM PHOTO BY ROSS FLOYD; ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRAND