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Big Leaf Manufacturing: Meet the Team - Cropped for Featured Image

Seattle Design Community

Big Leaf Manufacturing

A few of us B&V'ers recently took a tour of Roy McMakin's furniture shop, Big Leaf Manufacturing, and it was amazing! The team of artisans at Big Leaf has years of experience under their belts and their attention to detail and quality craft are top notch – definitely a go-to team for custom furniture fabrication!

November 19, 2015

Most people in the architecture & design community are familiar with Roy McMakin and Domestic Architecture. With a 40 year legacy of creating furniture, sculpture, houses, glassware, public art, paintings and more, his work is known. But when I picked up the November 2015 issue of Gray Magazine and read about Big Leaf Manufacturing, the furniture workshop he opened in 1997, I immediately organized a tour. Being a maker myself, the opportunity to see their space up close and personal was just too good to pass up.

Big Leaf Manufacturing Green Chair White Table

Tucked away in a one story flat-top industrial building between Rainier Avenue and I-90 on Poplar Place South, you'd never know that great art was being fabricated inside. From the street, it looks like maybe an insurance company - or some other paper-pushing business; but once inside, you quickly realize this is not a boring office building. And the secret is: the basement is where all the magic happens.

Big Leaf Manufacturing Fabric Bolts

The small team of skilled artisans with decades of hand-crafted experience has been making a go of it alone since their founder moved to San Diego to build a home for his family. Business has been good since they began offering their services to local clients, architects and designers - mostly connected through word of mouth. They're a super creative bunch who love a challenge and always say yes. Experimentation is in their DNA and they collaborate fully on each component of a design.

Big Leaf Manufacturing Paint

The attention to detail that goes into each and every piece is astonishing. The image below is of a found object - an ancient wooden high chair - that the team was challenged with replicating into a graphic sculpture. Everything from the mismatched arm shapes to the randomly placed nails and divets in the wood of the original are copied to the replica.

Big Leaf Manufacturing Takes Vintage to Replica

Barbara described for us her process of experimentation with paints and stains and how she recently sent custom color blocks to a fabric dyer in New York. They came back with perfectly matched linen twill samples, later to become the upholstered cushions on custom dining chairs.

Danger Men at Work

Don’t even get me started on the veneers!

We really appreciated their hospitality, opening up their workshop to us on a wintery Tuesday. We're happy to get the word out about this amazing resource for custom fabrication, right here in the heart of Seattle.

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