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Outfitting Deavor › by Jon Dalman

Posted 01.28.14
Outfitting Deavor › by Jon Dalman

Each day, I go into work at Fort Houston, a coworking space I’ve been a member of for almost one year now. I walk in to the sound of welders grinding, saws cutting through piles of wood, the scent of a fresh pot of coffee, and some Hank Williams Jr. on playing over the stereo. Avoiding the remote control helicopters flying overhead and the dog running between tables, I make my way past the potter, the jeweler, and the skateboard builder over to Five String Furniture to see how Nate is coming with those table frames he is welding for us. I settle in at my desk with a fresh cup of coffee and a to-do list that needs written and printed for my team. I take it over to Micah, my right-hand man, as he get’s started on the day’s chores. I spend the day working with Micah and managing a handful of other contributing artists around Fort Houston, as well as seeking the advice of other woodworkers at neighboring tables. At the end of the day, we open a couple Yazoos, sweep up, and wind down with the 20 other folks ending their work day here. It’s 8:30pm; the door is locked, the alarm is set, and we are on our way home, thinking of what we get to build tomorrow.

When Kirk presented the idea of Deavor to me, I was beyond stoked. Design an entire office space? That’s a 23 year-old woodworker’s dream. Kirk was very open-minded about the design; it was a blank canvas. Our only limitation was the need for functionality. He said to me, “Instead of asking, ‘What kind of desks do we need?’ ask, ‘Why do we need desks?’”

Early on, Kirk and I visited the future space, went over blueprints, and talked numbers. Kirk had hired an architect and builder to focus on the construction of the space’s interior while I worked on the furniture. We started moving black and white lines around on the computer until we found a furniture layout we thought expressed optimum functionality and flow. I knew the needs; I knew the layout; and I had the budget–it was time to outfit Deavor.

I wanted to be conscious of what was going on in Nashville and what the future held for coworking spaces like this. We had to be ahead of the curve. We had to go big.

So, as I started in with ideas, I realized how many ways I could approach the theme of a space with dozens of tables and countless adornments. However, the overarching theme of functionality kept my vision on track. I kept returning to simplicity –
the best design was simple design. Simple and functional, here we go.

We wanted the vibe to be industrious, but warm. We wanted modern and classic. So we moved forward with prevalent hardwood, steel frames and accents, resulting in a sturdy and minimal design.

Next was wood choice: I decided to use the Nashville native timber Black Walnut. It’s my favorite native hardwood because of the tones and characteristics – the deep purplish brown of the heartwood at its core gives way to the cream-colored sapwood that outlines each slab. As each tree grows, it paints its rings with a smattering of oranges, blues, and blacks. No need for stain with a pallet like that. I’ll let you use your imagination. Maybe even rouse you to stop by.

When Kirk told me Deavor needed to be outfitted by this spring, I knew there was only one way to make it happen. I could not have started, endured, or accepted the deadline for this project without the creative community of a coworking space. Today is the 20th of 40 days of construction for Deavor, and because of Fort Houston we are right on track. From coworking space to coworking space. How fitting is that?



  • Charles Miller

    Really excited about these desks!

  • Kirk Slawek

    Jon is the man.