By: Heather Malcolm
Alex Devereux is a bartender. As he pushes beer, wine and the occasional cup of soup, he smiles and carefully wipes up a spill made on the minimalist, mahogany-finished bar tables that span the microbrewery. As the room buzzes with energy, Alex describes what porter is on special or the food pairings that are suggested with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. He has an answer for every question; one question asked of him, however, grabs his attention.
“I love these tables! Where did the bar get them?”
“I made them!” he replies proudly.
Alex is a bartender, but Alex is also a carpenter. He is one of the co-founders of San Diego Urban Timber, a studio/woodshop that specializes in designs made from material harvested throughout the San Diego area.
Based in Chula Vista, Alex strives to design and build furniture pieces that are one of a kind and environmentally sustainable. The material used is generally found within an urban setting, such as the side of the road or a demolition site, then milled and dried in a solar kiln. What makes his work so unique is that each piece of furniture has been constructed by hand from reclaimed wood. Regular sources for his materials include the side of the freeway, dumpsters, demolition areas and the always-reliable Craigslist.
Alex has an enviable ability to tell a story with wood, and works with an outlook towards making every item special. The undeniable skill and exquisite craftsmanship shown in his finished designs make each piece something worth seeing. However, as the economy continues to lack sympathy for talented small business owners, Alex must work nights at the microbrewery to sustain his livelihood, pushing carpentry to the background.
As designers and consumers it is important that we recognize and network with underground, independent furniture builders, like Alex. In doing so, not only will we infuse a one-of-a-kind nature to our designs, but also to support one-of-a-kind carpenters that are being lost in the economy. With the dedication of the carpenters and the commitment of designers, the world of independent furniture design can make its way into commercial trading. Perhaps then Alex’s smile can come from beyond the joy of seeing customers at the bar to the satisfaction of knowing he built that very bar.