BK (Brian K.) Ellison
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Wood, Glass, and Lighting
OCCUPATION: Owner of BKE Designs
In addition to architecture, BK Ellison’s first loves were woodworking and furniture building. In fact, it was his passion for building furniture that compelled him to leave a successful, nearly 20 year career in real estate development. After leaving his job, BK moved to Amsterdam for 2 years, began designing and building furniture, and has been doing it full time ever since. With his work in the homes of art collectors, restaurants, and even the Mayor’s office in Chicago, BK’s company, BKE Designs, has been operating since 2006. BK’s success is attributed to positive word-of-mouth reviews by satisfied clients who say BK’s designs are brilliant, exquisite, and always exceed expectations. His success has afforded him the opportunity to choose his clients and leave room for his hobby as a Poi fire dancer – a skill which he first learned at the 2003 “Burning Man” festival.
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Reclaimed Wood, Textiles
OCCUPATION: Carpenter and Furniture Builder
Curtis Rew’s woodworking education started in grade school, when he began building furniture at age 10. Throughout junior high and high school, Curtis excelled in wood shop classes and landed a job in a cabinet shop at age 16. A few short years later, he started acquiring tools to run his own furniture shop. Currently, Curtis accepts custom furniture commissions, works as the lead carpenter on a full restoration of a 120-year-old building in downtown Spokane, WA, and also teaches furniture building on the weekends at the local woodworking shop. Curtis credits his success to not following fads or what is “right,” he builds what is in his soul. He would use his winnings to start a company and launch three distinct furniture lines.
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Woodwork, Metal
EDUCATION: Murray State: BA Functional Design
OCCUPATION: Furniture Maker & Designer
Craig Bayens likes to describe his style as “Rustic Contemporary” where he tries to take “trash and turn it into hard earned cash.” The furniture Craig creates is an expression of elegance through simplicity – the fine lines married with traditional joinery producing heirloom quality furniture. Striving to be 100% environmentally friendly, Craig only acquires lumber from a local tree service and saw mill that harvests trees from the Louisville area that have been damaged in storms or have outgrown their urban environment. Craig hopes to use the prize money to buy a new storefront, expand his workspace and work on larger projects for his growing clientele.
Golden, CO (originally Billings, MT)
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Wood, Concrete, Laminates
EDUCATION: Red Rocks School of Fine Woodworking
OCCUPATION: Furniture Designer/Builder
Erin Brown started building furniture out of her garage as a hobby. Her love of unique, quality furniture that has a romantic, grand luster led her to leave her job at a civil engineering firm and enroll at Red Rocks School of Fine Woodworking. Drawing inspiration from nature, she makes mid-century modern pieces specializing in organic form, color, and multi-media form pieces. If Erin wins the competition, she plans on purchasing a CNC machine, opening her own business, and traveling the world.
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Wood, Leather, Glass
OCCUPATION: Furniture Maker & Designer
Freddy Hill’s path to furniture making had an unconventional start. After going to college for Pre-Med, Freddy dropped out of grad school to join a rock band. After 10 years of touring the country, Freddy grew tired of the lifestyle, quit the band and bought a table saw. After a chance meeting with his future mentor, he began working at furniture building shop and was hooked. Freddy’s passion for furniture design and building pushes him to closely study great designers of the past and use their work to influence his pieces. In addition to season tickets to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Freddy would use his prize money to better brand and market his business.
Denver, CO (originally Silver Spring, MD)
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Wood, Metal, Concrete, Stone
EDUCATION: Red Rocks School of Fine Woodworking
OCCUPATION: Owner of Garrett Brown Designs
Garrett Brown became a furniture designer when he started making art pieces to decorate his apartment and a friend asked him to build a bed. Hoping to develop his craft into more than a hobby, Garrett enrolled in Red Rocks School of Fine Woodworking. After just 3 semesters, Garrett had so much referral business from furniture commissions that his instructor recommended that Garrett begin building professionally full-time. Always looking to push himself, Garrett tries to design so that the audience is left wondering how it was made. He uses actual topography in his pieces emphasizing the earthy nature of his work. An intense competitor, who surfs and snowboards in his free time, Garrett is looking to win the prize money so that he can expand his business, travel, and do volunteer work.
Rocky River, OH
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Steel, Wood, Plastic
OCCUPATION: Owner of 44 Steel
Jason Radcliffe fell in love with the industrial look early in life when he started welding for his parents’ fabrication shop. Using the skills he developed at their shop, Jason picked up furniture design quickly. Jason’s designing and building turned into a full-time job shortly after a local furniture store noticed his talent. Once he began exhibiting at ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) – Jason developed a following of designers, architects, and stores that commission him and carry his work. Jason plans on playing to his strengths in welding and fabrication during the competition and continue making clean pieces using finishing techniques that conceal his welds and hardware. In addition to furniture making, Jason enjoys surfing, waterskiing and downhill mountain biking. If he wins the competition, Jason will need to decide on using the prize money to improve his business – or buy a new motorcycle.
Providence, RI (originally from Paducah, KY)
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Wood, Lathe turning, Mid-Century Danish Style, Re-claimed lumber
EDUCATION: R.I.S.D.: Masters of Industrial Design (MID), Murray State University, BFA Furniture Design
OCCUPATION: Owner of Lady J Designs
An all-around Renaissance woman, Jessica Brown is a designer, painter, furniture maker and finish carpenter, whose talents include the ability to work with a variety of materials, including wood, metal, paper, and plastics. While growing up in Kentucky, Jessica learned the tools of the trade from both her father and grandfather through exploration and curiosity. She holds her Masters from the Rhode Island School of Design where she specialized in sustainable design. She considers herself to be a “responsible” designer, who attempts to salvage, reclaim, reuse, and use less material whenever possible. Her work is influenced by street art, industrial style, Scandanavian mid-century design, and pop culture. Jessica plans to pay off her mountain of student loans with her winnings.
San Luis Obispo, CA
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Wood, Concrete, Metal
OCCUPATION: Furniture Designer and Builder
Woodworking has been in Jory Brigham’s family for generations. As a child, Jory was homeschooled and learned woodworking from his father on a daily basis. Keeping the tradition alive, Jory loves to have his kids help him in his shop when he’s building, but is quick to point out that he’s not forcing the family business on them – not yet at least. Jory is an artist, designer and builder with a passion for creating lasting works by hand, and considers his designs dynamic while remaining timeless. If he wins, Jory wants to use the prize money to take a year off, buy a ton of supplies, and build a whole new furniture line.
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Metal, Upholstery, Wood, Plastic
EDUCATION: S.C.A.D.: BFA Furniture Design
OCCUPATION: Furniture Designer
Growing up on her family’s cattle and hog farm in Missouri, Lacey Campbell learned the value of hard work. On the farm, Lacey taught herself building and design by repurposing scrap materials and tinkering with machines. Further pursuing her interests, Lacey obtained a BFA in Furniture Design from Savannah College of Art & Design, and then started working for Sauder as a furniture designer. During her time at Sauder, Lacey traveled the world, picking up the latest trends from furniture shows and factories. When Lacey’s not hard at work, gracefully solving unique designs problems, she enjoys listening to her boyfriend’s band ‘Tis.’ She hopes to use the prize money to open a small studio devoted to sustainable, tech-forward furniture.
San Diego, CA (originally Attica, NY)
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Wood, Metal, Light, Folding Furniture
EDUCATION: Buffalo State: BS Wood/Furniture
OCCUPATION: Owner of RxMadera Design
Growing up, Nathaniel Hall was surrounded by carpenters. His father and uncles helped Nathaniel discover that he could make things with his own hands, and he’s been making functional 3D art ever since. Nathaniel’s desire to learn his craft motivated him to get his Associate of Arts degree from Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, then a Bachelor of Science in Wood and Furniture Design at Buffalo State College. Further pursuing his education and art, Nathaniel is currently enrolled as a graduate student at San Diego State University. Nathaniel’s years of experience, along with his various accolades (“Jurors’ Award” from the Denton Arts Council, “Annual Enrichment Award” from the Art Institute of Chicago and the “Merit and Art Scholarship” to Proctor Institute) have given Nathaniel a healthy sense of confidence that he will finish the competition on top.
Los Angeles, CA
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Solid Wood, Sculpting, Aluminum, Metal Casting
EDUCATION: Academy of Art San Francisco: BArch
OCCUPATION: Owner of RAH:DESIGNS
In high school, Rahil Taj took an architecture class and discovered a natural aptitude for design. He went on to study at the Academy of Art in San Francisco then the Southern California Institute of Architecture, learning skills that he eventually applied to the functionality of furniture design. Drawing on his architecture education, Rahil started RAH:DESIGNS to revolutionize mainstream furniture and describes his work as “mid-century with an industrial twist.” Rahil takes the raw essence of materials and shapes one-of-a-kind custom furnishings that are beautiful, exciting, and functional. Thanks to a lifetime of playing ice and roller hockey, Rahil has developed a competitive edge that he hopes will serve him well in the competition. If he wins, Rahil wants to use his winnings to open up his own shop and realize his dream of getting his uniquely creative designs out into the world.
Huntington Beach, CA
STYLE/EXPERTISE: Metal, Wood, Plastic, Fiberglass, Glass
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Industrial Design from The Art Institute
OCCUPATION: Owner of The Factory Red
Wesley November is not your typical furniture builder. Wesley is a tattooed, rock-and roll playing author with a diverse resume highlighted by a stint as a Disney Imagineer and owning a hot sauce line named “Zombie Blood.” Before getting into the hot sauce business, Wesley started building at a young age when his dad taught him, “If you want something, build it or earn it.” With that in mind, Wesley spent his 20s running a modern furniture company called Krypton, and was involved with designing the Playboy Bunny Mansion. Despite his early successes, Wesley was homeless at age 30. No stranger to hard work and persevering through adversity, Wesley used his multiple talents to rebound and start his own design and manufacturing company with major, international brand named clients. As an active member of the Huntington Beach community, Wesley works with kids and inspires them to use their hands to create. If he wins, Wesley plans to use his winnings to further develop the Huntington Beach arts scene and expand his own business.