JR Artisan SpotlightKeith Fritz
What inspires you?:
I grew up in the forest surrounded by trees in southern Indiana. Imperfect trees make some of the most beautiful and perfect furniture and grain designs. Many users of wood veneer only want straight running wood grain, and while that can still be beautiful, the logs where, say, the tree lost a limb, or the trunk splits in two, or the tree had a disease, make some of the most beautiful patterns which we use across our work.
What’s makes your brand stand out from the rest:
We have a deep bench of talented woodworkers and artisans here in Ferdinand, Indiana, and for most of our work, the raw wood goes in the back of the building, and the finished blanket-wrapped furniture leaves from a customized indoor loading dock in the front of the building, and then we deliver it ourselves with our own fleet. We only make several hundred pieces of furniture every year, which allows us to have an obsessive focus on quality and the smallest of details. Our full custom abilities combined with competitive lead times, make us the top choice for architects and designers seeking the highest-quality bespoke luxury wood furniture.
How did you get your start in the industry:
Wood and furniture has always been my passion. I designed my first piece of furniture when I was sixteen. It was an ornate Bombay Chippendale secretary that I spent over 1,200 hours making. I continued woodworking in college, and after graduating, I opened a custom woodworking shop in Washington, DC. I would cold call designers and every so often would get a positive response. Early on I was fortunate to work with Rob Brown and Todd Davis crafting custom furniture for a former President Bill Clinton, and now, 20 years later, we remain friends and produce an exclusive furniture line together. It’s been an incredible journey and today I’m proud to be represented by the best trade showrooms coast to coast.
Describe your work in 5 words or less:
Bespoke luxury wood furniture
Describe your studio/work space:
When I started out in Washington, DC, it was just me and a few others in a small storefront with a small apartment above the wood shop. Today, I still live above the shop, but it’s a 33,000 square foot 19th century factory building with a much larger loft-like apartment above our loading dock. We used to have other businesses in our building, including an antique store, a coffee shop, and we even once had a violin maker, but as our company has grown the furniture shop now takes up the full building outside the living space. Our company runs on computers and cloud-based databases, but I’m still a pen and paper person.
Any new techniques, mediums, colors, aesthetics you are experimenting with?
Last year we launched an exciting line of dining tables with self-storing leaves. We have options for leaves that flip up from the center or leaves that unfold from the table ends from hidden drawers. Our custom work crosses many design aesthetics from 18th and 19th century inspired traditional to bold and contemporary. Right now we’re seeing many designers take traditional forms and give them a very modern finish, and our groundbreaking colored woods, introduced in 2015 as part of the Brown Davis Collection, are used in many bold and creative settings. People say they can’t have a blue dining table, but when they see how it fits into the interior it expands their horizon of what’s possible in a luxury interior.
Keith Fritz Fine Furniture is available through our New York & Florida Showrooms