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Furniture Designer Jason Scott Crafts Pieces With Unusual Flair

Author: Susan Regan
Issue: March, 2011, Page 108
Photos by Luca Trovato

Pictured in his Phoenix warehouse, furniture designer Jason Scott stands near several of his reclaimed teakwood pieces. “Quality is everything,” he says of his approach to the craft. “It’s all got to be furniture I’d put in my own house.”


Furniture Frontiersman:
Traditional craftsmanship defines Jason Scott’s handmade home furnishings

For some, the austere conditions of living in a hut in a remote Asian village—without running water or reliable electricity—would overshadow any creativity that such an untouched setting evokes. But this could not be further from the truth for Phoenix-based furniture designer Jason Scott. 

Self-taught, this Master of the Southwest has been designing furniture since the mid-1990s. He says he has always had an eye for design. As a kid, he built bicycles, and his mother and sister both worked in the design field. His furniture, which includes tables, beds, armoires, chests and more, is crafted of recycled teakwood and manufactured in a small village in Java, Indonesia. While his pieces are carried by more than 100 showrooms across the U.S., including Robb & Stucky and Fiesta Furnishings in Scottsdale, Scott found his inspiration a long way from the bustle of America.

In 1994, while backpacking through Asia, the North Dakota native was taken by the detailed craftsmanship of antiques he saw in Indonesia. Scott quickly determined that they would be popular with American homeowners, and ventured deep into the Indonesian forest in search of villagers selling them. The next few years were a blur of activity that included owning an Indonesian antiques shop in Minneapolis; becoming a furniture vendor for Robb & Stucky; transitioning from an antiques importer to a furniture designer; and moving to a remote village in Java to design and manufacture his furniture full time.

The Cladico bedroom grouping, which is part of Jason Scott’s Urban Village Collection, features pieces of wood positioned at various depths to create texture.
“It was a really crazy time,” Scott says of his early days in the business. “I loved it. I liked the National Geographic side of the lifestyle. I lived day-to-day, and the next day was all I was thinking about.” This renegade attitude helped him assimilate into the Indonesian way of life, where he has built a network of locals who help him find old teakwood from buildings—most dating back 100 years or more—that are being razed to make room for modern structures.

Alan Reinken, Robb & Stucky’s Western Division vice president, says his company initially was impressed with the hand-carved detailing, heavy forged iron or brass hardware, and hand-wrought iron stretcher frames that define Scott’s designs.

Claudia LeClair, owner of Fiesta Furnishings, also was im-pressed with the handcraftsmanship when she first saw Scott’s furniture more than 10 years ago. “I absolutely fell in love with his pieces—the carving is spectacular,” she says. “His product epitomizes the Southwest style. It’s reminiscent of Spanish Colonial style, with a flair.”

Today, the designer travels to Indonesia several times a year and employs more than 200 Indonesian carvers and craftsmen—many of whom learned their techniques from their fathers and grandfathers. He offers four lines composed of more than 200 pieces and is planning to add at least 10 pieces in 2011.

Part of the Jason Scott Collection, the headboard of the Iron Castle Bed is crafted from an antique fence.
While Scott’s company has gone through numerous growth spurts, he says he remains focused on maintaining a high level of quality and workmanship that represents the skill of his craftsmen. This measured approach allows him to reflect on the impact he has had on the Indonesian villagers and vice versa.

Scott recalls his efforts to equip his workers with adequate and reliable electricity that, in turn, is used by many residents of the village. “It was a way to give back to the people before I realized I was even giving back,” he comments. “It makes me feel good to give something as simple as electricity or school supplies or playground equipment. These are things I see being used every time I’m there.”

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: The Zen Dining Table, from the Urban Village Collection, has a reclaimed teak top and a recycled iron base. Scott says he was inspired to design the base while eating breakfast. The initial pattern was created using strips of paper. • The intricate layers of carving found on the Grand Cordoza Mirror take 280 hours to produce. The piece, part of the Jason Scott Collection, measures 48"H by 72"W and is available in custom sizes. • The Corinthian Console Table With Hutch is from the Jason Scott Collection. The console table is one of Jason Scott’s first designs and reflects European and Spanish influences. • The furnishings shown here are from the Jason Scott Collection, the designer’s first furniture line. Two antique doors, much like the ones salvaged from buildings in Indonesia, are in the background.

Carvings reminiscent of those found in several cultures, including Mexican and Indonesian, define this cocktail table with slate insets.

This detail of the Corinthian Console Table With Hutch shows ironwork inspired by a design Scott saw on an antique Dutch door.

Scott wanted the Spanish Prison Console Table, which is part of the Mozaic Collection, to resemble ones typically seen in a Spanish museum.

The side table and chest in the foreground are from the Jason Scott Collection; the console table in the rear is part of the Clean Living Collection.

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