Orange County’s Cannery Village Casegoods Aim to Deliver Fine, Eco-Friendly Furniture
By Erica Johnson
14 October 2017
Photo courtesy of Nathan Whelan
College of Environmental Design alumnus Andrew Ilsley (BA Arch ‘93) is an eco-conscious furniture designer and owner of Cannery Village Casegoods, a custom-furniture shop located in Newport Beach, California. Illsley is involved in every step of the furniture making process, from concept to completion, with a style that focuses on preserving the natural finishes of the materials he uses to maintain their authenticity.
Illsley was recently interviewed by Locale Magazine, an Orange County based publication, regarding his craft. You can read the full interview below:
Q: How did you become a furniture designer?
Andrew Ilsley: When I graduated from architecture school at UC Berkeley, the market was flooded with architects, so I would have been waiting in long lines to snag an unpaid internship at one of the Bay Area architecture firms. It was apparent that producing quality work would require a closer relationship between design and fabrication than is achievable in a traditional office setting. As it turns out, I found my niche in design and fabrication. I decided to start my own shop in [the] early 2000s in a 100-year-old wood shop in the Cannery Village of Newport Beach.
Q: What are your favorite materials to work with?
AI: I often look for distinctive information that shows evidence of time, handwork or the natural environment. Whether it’s the growth rings of a tree, the re-saw marks left by milling or the tool marks in hand fashioned metal, these features can make or break a piece. Working with unprocessed raw materials allows unique characteristics to be featured in a design—characteristics that are only present in that particular specimen. It used to be the norm to edit out irregularities but now they are highly valued for their uniqueness. I think we like to see evidence of where things come from and how they are made. It fills the soul with something that can’t be found on the screen.
Q: What are the emerging trends for homes in Orange County?
AI: In Orange County and in general, thanks in large part to the internet, the XYZ generation seems to be scrutinizing purchases to a much higher degree than people were in the past. With so many options to consider, excellent design and craftsmanship are no longer enough. Social and environmental concerns must also be addressed. Interestingly, the trends have caught up to what seemed pioneering two decades ago. Now that so little is manufactured in the US, it can be difficult to know where your products are being sourced from, their effect on the environment and how workers are being treated. Consumers are starting to demand more control over what goes into their homes by proactively choosing products that contribute to the common good.
Q: What is your most important piece of advice for people that want to redesign the look of their home?
AI: The best results are usually a product of quality-of-attention and time. Don’t be afraid to allow your curiosity and inspiration lead you in surprising directions and give your considerations time to develop.
Q: What is your personal favorite piece of furniture?
AI: I get excited by a well-placed towel hook! How much I like a piece is usually determined by how well it serves the space and the story it tells. As a general rule, a piece of furniture will only be as good as it’s fit in the context of the space.
Q: Some of your designs are for commercial use. What is the difference from an artistic standpoint?
AI: Commercial brand identification and development involves reaching a broader audience and typically allows for more room to break from convention. Concerns about resale value are overridden by a drive for specific innovations that complement a particular service or product. Commercial spaces have unique infrastructural concerns that need to be dealt with on a tight schedule and often require creative solutions.