Wolfram Studios is a company that specializes in producing handcrafted furniture and custom woodwork pieces. The company was cofounded by Ben Swanson and Garret Nasset (Fine Arts Class of ’15) in 2016 after the pair worked together refinishing hardwood floors. The beauty and character of century old oak and maple floorboards, which they worked on daily, inspired them to use it as a medium for making fine furniture.
Where are you based now?
I am based out of Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States. I converted a mechanics garage into a woodworking shop where I make furniture.
In a few sentences, tell us about your new project and what inspired you to create it?
Most of my work features reclaimed wood from old homes, especially flooring. I like using this as a material because it shows the history and character it has gathered throughout its lifetime as a constructed element of someone’s home. However, my most recent project uses maple that was infested with wood boring beetles, so the wood is peppered with worm holes. I was inspired to use this as a material because of its natural character that is different from anything that a human could treat it with.
What advice would you give to students thinking of starting their own businesses/projects?
There are countless ways to approach a project; if you give an assignment to a group of ten people, you will receive ten completely different responses. But as far as my approach to things, here’s what I have to say: it’s easy to get buried in the details, but don’t lose track of the big picture. As long as you have a goal in mind, whether clear or vague, the rest will get sorted out one way or another.
What has been some of the challenges you’ve faced?
One of the challenges has been finding an adequate work space. My first studio was instantly outgrown with my first project. My second studio was much too large and I couldn’t afford it very long. My current studio seems to be in the “goldilocks zone”, large enough to be productive in, but still affordable.
Have you collaborated with other PCA alumni/current students on this project?
No. Sadly, I am far away from most of the PCA community.
Have you collaborated with other companies on this project?
No, this project is my own idea. However, some of the projects I do are in collaboration with other companies, stores, and clients looking for a unique piece of furniture.
What’s a normal work day for you like?
A normal work day begins with breakfast and a morning tea on the front porch. Then I walk out to the workshop and sweep up the dust that has settled from the day before and get to work. Days are divided into metal working days, wood working days, and finishing days in order to keep dust out of the finish, and sparks out of the sawdust.
What’s next in your professional life?
Next in my professional life is unknown. I will just continue to grow this business and see where it leads me!