Handcrafted, heirloom-quality tables are the hallmarks of Koppen Woodworks. After learning basic woodworking skills from his grandfather, Jake Koppen bought his own tools and started teaching himself how to build furniture out of his basement. After his first piece (a coffee table crafted from locally sourced Osage orange wood) drew instant demand, he started his business and even relocated to Soulcraft CLE, where he sells tables, nightstands and beds.
Nods to the Past
In an effort to celebrate the life of the trees, Koppen carefully selects lumber with interesting features and highlights its imperfections and rings. “Put that right in the middle of a dining table where a community of people sit and it is a bit of a tribute to that tree and to the history of the earth,” he says. His pieces are also inspired by Cleveland history, such as The Carnegie table ($6,798) or The Steel Yard nightstands ($2,697 for two).
Koppen prides himself on designs that blend inventive styles with trendy materials such as concrete and live-edge wood — a rough, natural, unfinished edge — and he always tries to stretch the limits of what he can make. “I try to do something inventive and clever with the materials,” he says.
In order to be more self-sufficient, Koppen built his own tiny home out of a school bus, powered by solar panels. Without a mortgage or utility bills, he can focus on his craft, stress-free. “Without stress, I think that’s where you can create and your mind’s free enough to be inventive,” he says.
Creating each piece takes 6-8 weeks. Koppen selects the lumber, then crafts a mold to pour the liquid concrete or resin over the wood and finally starts the building process. The wait is worth it as Koppen carefully customizes each piece. “If I make a bed, I say, ‘How much stuff do you have on your nightstand? Do you need a drawer? How tall is your mattress? What is your aesthetic in your house?’” he says. koppenwoodworks.com