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Furniture Designer Greg Hankerson

Author: Shawndrea Corbin
Issue: September, 2013, Page 24
Photos by Garrett Cook

Vintage Industrial owner Greg Hankerson sits at one of his signature A Frame tables built from heavy gauge steel.

Greg Hankerson’s thirst for innovation lands him at the forefront of a new kind of Industrial Revolution

Shortly after blogging about a metal table he crafted for his wife, Phoenix resident Greg Hankerson found himself overwhelmed by readers demanding more posts about his new “hobby,” not to mention purchasing information. The reverberant sounds of forged metal that once underscored this nation’s Industrial era were now clanging out a new calling for the former web page designer. And, in 2009, his company—Vintage Industrial—was born.

By April 2011, things were going so well, the self-taught furniture maker found himself in desperate need of space to fill an order of unprecedented size. So he relocated from his garage to a 20,000-square-foot building in downtown Phoenix. The artisan now designs and builds to order for both residential and commercial needs, with projects ranging from 10-foot-high initials to metal lattice-faced cabinets with built-in TV lifts.

“Industrial pieces have been around forever, and are now being adapted for the home,” Hankerson notes. He explains that in his early furniture-making days, the easiest thing for him to do was to go to a metal yard and weld scrapped, antique iron pieces together to craft furniture, rather than starting with newer materials.

The Bronx Crank table can be raised or lowered by turning one of two handles and features two 5-ton screw mechanisms.
In what he describes as an unforeseen reward of his new profession, Hankerson finds that his Industrial-era styled pieces sometimes evoke memories for clients, such as how a grandfather once made or owned something similar to the design they are now purchasing.

Embracing the more timely concept of going “green,” the company opts for locally bought and American-made materials whenever possible. “Even the fact that our products last so long is green; they don’t need to be replaced every two to three years,” Hankerson says.

With orders now pouring in from Dubai, Australia, and even celebrities such as Alec Baldwin and Guy Fieri, the company has made a name for itself beyond Arizona’s borders. These days, in addition to designing products for MGM restaurants in Detroit and Las Vegas, along with “railroad track” tables for The Four Seasons’ Proof restaurant in Scottsdale, Hankerson is busy developing new product designs and looking to expand nationally.

A new “IndustriaLux” line combines white powder-coated steel with brass accents, for a look Hankerson refers to as “Hollywood Regency meets
Industrial.” He says his main goal is for Vintage Industrial to set trends, not follow them. “We are looking to become a lifestyle brand while staying true to being local,” he remarks. “Clients come in for just a table and end up asking for chairs as well because the commercial-grade ones they are buying are failing.”

In the near future, he says he would like to turn the upstairs portion of his workspace into a showroom, with vignettes demonstrating how pieces will look in a home or restaurant setting. “It’s all in the details,” Hankerson insists. “It’s fulfilling to come up with an idea and see it come to life.”

Photos - From left: Emulating the original Toledo Drafting chair by UHL, the Wright Chair is a “heavy-duty” design that features a tilting back for comfort. • The Vintage Industrial Armoire was inspired by French Industrial design. The metal piece is accented with rivets, brass and a wood crown.

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