The Long (Board) And Short of Daniel Moyer's Sustainable Design

by DIY thing • Jun 1, 2008 2:16 PM PDT
The Long (Board) And Short of Daniel Moyer's Sustainable Design

Recently, we caught up with designer Daniel Moyer after BKLYN DESIGNS„¢ 2008. We asked him about the growth of the show, his recent work, and his thoughts on sustainable design. Daniel, a Brooklyn designer and fabricator of hardwood furniture, puts the fun in sustainable, eco-friendly designs. Not only does he carefully consider the choice of wood (think Black Locust) in his designs, he also uses the excess wood to make his FunkinFunction longboards. Click SEE SLIDESHOW for just a few of his whimsical designs and click READ MORE for our exclusive interview where we find out what he's been up to!

DIYthing: You were at the sixth annual BKLYN DESIGNS. We hear it was the largest show to date, how did it go?
Daniel: If it hadn't rained sideways all day Friday, I think it would have been even bigger than NEXT year. Seriously, BKLYNDESIGNS, perhaps following the "five years before your business is a success" plan, is truly coming of age. Not only were there more attendees, but my sense is that those attendees were of a far more serious sort. The exhibitors I know all seem to agree that they were able to connect with designers, architects, and potential private clients in numbers and degrees exceeding prior years' shows. And please don't discount the fact that not only were numbers up; overall quality-design, craftsmanship, presentation, innovation- was refreshingly high. Karen Auster, the jury members, the production team, and the Chamber of Commerce are to be congratulated. Having just come from the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), I'm not so sure its position as premier event of NYC Design Week is as safe as it might believe.

DIYthing: What have you been working on recently?
Daniel: I've been building a series of smaller side tables, refining shapes, experimenting with options: drawers, interior shelves... These "prayerTables" originate from an Asian form associated with daily devotion. The scale and dimensions lend themselves well to use as sideboards, hallway or foyer tables, work tables. The size feels really nice and manageable for today's world. I also just finished [Wednesday night before the show] an indoor/outdoor sectional couch in Crypton In&Out over Black Locust, the incredible Local North American native rot and decay-resistant hardwood alternative to the rain
forest imports. I'm really excited about Black Locust and can't wait to use it some more; the upholstery cost me a fortune.

DIYthing: How important is green design to your work? Do you scavenge much of your hardwood?
Daniel: Second to whimsy, green design is all-important, but let me clarify. Sustainability is a many-faceted issue.
Materials are just part of the equation and, yes, when the opportunity presents itself, I'm the first in the dumpster. But as more and more of us hunt and gather, scavenged materials become scarce; scarcity does not support sustainability. I'm not into the new plywood products either for a lot of reasons. Instead, I've chosen to look backwards to an era before manufacturing for sustainability, to a time when your local sawyer chose a tree for harvest, felled and milled it, you air dried it for a few years, lived with it and let it's character inform your design process, then employed it in your product fabrication using forms and techniques that not only ensured it would last for generations, but would be desirable for as long or longer. This is a slow process that allows for replacement of materials many times over and even, it can be argued, extends the "life" of the tree long past its green phase.

DIYthing: Many wonder if sustainable design is just for upscale customers, what is your take on it?
Daniel: It is true, given the current divided state of furniture pricing. We've all come to expect things to be manufactured ever more quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively, but there is always a price to be paid and it seems to me that the cataclysm we're just now waking up to is in no small part a direct result of this modern cycle. I don't think we can or should continue to demand low priced mass manufactured design. Einstein said "You cannot solve a problem at the same level of Consciousness that created it." It will be a fair day when the "Green" consumer at all levels embraces quality over quantity and unreluctantly shares in the investment that sustainability of this kind requires. There is a great debate unfolding right now on this very subject here.

DIYthing: You've talked about the whimsy in your work and others have described it as offbeat, is this playfulness for your benefit or your customer's?
Daniel: For both of us. By the way, thank those others for offbeat. Playfulness- I like that a lot, too. There is just so much frustration waiting at every turn in the Creative navigation of McDonaldLand as we know it. Playfulness trumps frustration and lives on in the work-at the ready, whenever the customer might need it.

DIYthing: Are your old-school skateboards still popular?
Daniel: They are tremendously popular and make sumptuous gifts. Too often they steal the show.

For more on Daniel Moyer Design & Fabrication, visit or

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