By Meghan Cass
From the outside it may appear to be just another industrial warehouse, but furniture firm From the Source is a diamond in the rough along Greenpoint’s waterfront. Beyond the unassuming façade, 23,000 square feet unfold into a vast labyrinth of storerooms and work spaces filled with dramatic Indonesian wood furnishings.
“We moved to this building in 2003, because it fit with our style of product,” says Bob Fireman, who co-owns the company with Phillip Tuan. “But we never thought we’d get foot traffic here.” As the neighborhood grew, the warehouse and design studio began opening its doors to the public every weekend. Today, walk-in customers can lose themselves for hours among the massive custom design pieces—a teak bed frame made from a single log goes for $5000—and attainable accessories like wooden bowls and vases starting around $65.
Lauded in design circles for their bold use of tropical wood, From the Source brings an urban sensibility to organic silhouettes and natural finishes.
“For us, it’s about letting the wood have a voice and be beautiful in whatever form it takes,” says Penny Emmet, director of Marketing and Wholesale. “We like to emphasize the abstract shape of a salvaged teak stump, or the blond stripes in a slab of young sapwood.”
And those who bristle at the thought of rainforest logging will take comfort in From the Source’s commitment to sustainability; all wood is either reclaimed or plantation grown. “We are in the process of being certified by SmartWood, a forestry program run by the Rainforest Alliance with the highest standards,” says Fireman. “We’ll salvage a tree that has been felled by a storm or one that the local community has decided to remove from a property.”
Most custom design work is done from the Greenpoint studio, but stock items are produced at the company’s factory in central Java. Local Indonesian employees are paid a fair trade wage, have partial ownership of the facility, and access to employee benefits including health care.
In Brooklyn, the company is equally supportive. “If we want to bring in a material other than wood—say a textile—we look for local talent,” says Emmett. From the Source currently carries ceramics, pillows, photography, and paintings by local artists in their Chelsea and Dumbo retail locations. And many rich collaborations have resulted from local partnerships. In addition to high-profile projects for Aveda salons and John Varvatos stores, From the Source has worked with Williamsburg restaurants like Bánh Mì and Hachi Asian Bistro, Greenpoint boutique Dalaga, and skateboard aficionados from the Autumn Bowl. “This area was sort of a dead zone when we first moved in,” says Emmett. “But now our local customers in Greenpoint come in with great ideas. So many people doing projects in the area find resources from us.”
From the Source is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays. Products are also available at their Dumbo outlet and Chelsea gallery, and at select retailers including Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters.
69 West Street, Greenpoint