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SF Chronicle article - Retro rocks

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Here's an article from yesterday's Chronicle. It references Eichler and has a link to suitable furniture designers for the Eichler living at the end.
Gloria
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Retro rocks
For Ron Weaver, even a struggling furniture business is better than a day job

Angelica Pence

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

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For Ron Weaver, even a struggling furniture business is better than a day job

Ron Weaver's furniture designs hark back to the post-World War II era when modernists like Joseph Eichler were rebuilding the American dream.

"Design should be simple, it should be durable and, yes, it should be interesting to look at," says the 32-year-old, who has been designing and fabricating elegant retro pieces for the better part of six years.

Far from the flamboyancy of today's media-hyped furniture and industrial designers (think Karim Rashid), Weaver's look is anything but brash thunder.

Such trends rarely reach his customers' radar screens, he says. Instead, "they want something that fits in with what they already have, something comfortable that looks good and is not going to seem funny the next season."

Enter Weaver's ultra-minimalist, trans-generational style. "A lot of my stuff is influenced by mid-century design, which is kind of a clichŽ," he allows. "But in my case it's true."

Little wonder many of Weaver's regulars live in suburban California, where Eichler and like tract homes dot the landscape. His most recent piece is no exception. The garden chaise was made to blend into a friend's San Rafael home,

which was built by the famous developer. Like many of Weaver's creations, the piece has steel as a backbone and in this case has Ipe, Brazilian iron wood slats, for the seat. The chaise (arguably a Henry Hall for half the price) adjusts at varying degrees of incline for reading a book, napping or chatting.

"There's a certain simplicity in my designs. Some people get it. Some people don't," says Weaver, who studied sculpture at Sonoma State University. Nothing in Weaver's work is more exemplary of that notion than his Flat Bar Tables - simple birch plywood pieces with welded steel legs and a powder- coated finish.

One man who definitely gets Weaver's less-is-more mantra is Raymond Long, owner of Den, a Valencia Street showroom known for its mod pairings: rattan screens alongside sleek, upholstered daybeds, beaming acrylic lamps, '60s teak or hard-to-find Danish ceramics.

"Ron has an exceptional eye for detail," Long says. "He has a good sense of his influences, and it certainly comes out in his pieces."

Like many Left Coast Gen Xers, Weaver instinctively believes in "reconfiguring the existing." So a part of his business naturally veered into recycling the seemingly unrecyclable - airport seating. Many of the chairs that were installed in smoke-filled terminals throughout the late 1950s, it turns out, were designed by none other than Charles Eames. Weaver collects the increasingly decommissioned units, slices them and re-sells them as single, voguish lounge chairs.

"People totally dig them," Weaver says. "Everybody's seen them. And everybody has sat in them for hours. And if you think about it, they're very attractive looking and very comfortable."

Two years ago, Weaver started Launchpad.com, an online furniture collective,

after he and other budding designers in the Bay Area had little luck breaking into the high-end furniture market or having their work published in industry magazines.

"Opulent, over-stuffed, bold patterns and velvets - that stuff doesn't have any place with us," Weaver says. "This is young design that's striving to be innovative, interesting and nontraditional."

There is no marketing team, no advertising and no human resources department. There is, however, a close-knit community of local designers who follow an unwritten design doctrine of using affordable and environmentally responsible materials.

"We get together, talk shop, share ideas, contacts and resources," Weaver says. "But mostly we just commiserate about what a tough way to make a living this is."

The site's roster lists more than two dozen furniture and housewares professionals, and it touts numerous shows each year throughout the Bay Area including Blue, currently on display at Den.

Weaver recently moved to San Juan Bautista with his wife and he commutes to the Bay Area, where the majority of his clientele remains. Those rare moments when he isn't working on his furniture or manning Launchpad, he works on architectural installations with the likes of Peter Pfau (who helped design the much-lauded San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center on Market Street).

Beyond that, "I'm just going to keep going, trying to make a name for myself," Weaver says. "Ten years down the road I'll have a better idea of what I want to do. For now, this is by far better than a day job."

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Ron Weaver

Age: 32

Profession: Furniture designer

Born: Monterey

Home: San Juan Bautista

Phone: (831) 623-4004

Web: http://www.launchpaddesigngroup.com

E-mail:

Showing: Weaver will be showing two of his pieces at "Blue," a Launchpad group show, at Den, 849 Valencia St. (between 19th and 20th streets) through June 29.

E-mail Angelica Pence at apence@sfchronicle.com.