But by year end, UV had met Rocky Levy, of Icon Modern furniture. “It was totally random,” UV recalls. Levy was looking for a fabricator to build metal bases for a new account. UV had just powder-coated a bike for a friend of a friend of Levy’s wife.
Icon Modern makes furniture from reclaimed urban wood. Reclaimed wood has emerged as a small industry itself. Its rescues good wood from the waste stream, and the furniture comes with a back story. Icon Modern advertises that in a lot of cases “we can tell you where your table ‘grew up’.”
Levy says they buy wood from the Rebuilding Exchange, which deconstructs old buildings as an alternative to demolition. The Exchange opened in Chicago in 2009. He also has 3 to 4 sawyers who harvest wood from urban trees that have been taken down for other reasons. A lot of them have been infested by Emerald Ash Borer – the scars will be left visible in the finished furniture. Levy says they once sawed open an ancient oak and found a bullet lodged deep inside the trunk – they had sawed it exactly in half. Counting rings they calculated someone had shot the tree about 80 years ago. They left it in the table top.
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There are those with a strong appreciation for natural beauty. And Dwayne MacEwen of Chicago-based DMAC Architecture is one of them.
The architect is behind the Zen-chic design of River North’s Roka Akor, the flaming-hot new Japanese robata grill and sushi restaurant.
A “conceptual” version of the restaurant already existed at Roka Akor’s original Scottsdale, Ariz., location. But MacEwen wanted to add his own imprint to the Chicago outpost’s blueprints. And he set out to bring “an emotional impact to the space,” which is located at the bustling intersection of Clark and Illinois Streets.
MacEwen drew inspiration from Roka Akor’s acclaimed chef Ce Bian, who uses “very simple, natural ingredients” in his cuisine, the architect says. Bian is a master at crafting simple foods into magnificent dishes. MacEwen also knows how to create an end product that is greater than the sum of its parts. So here, some of the most humble, natural materials — wood, rocks, old nails — are artfully used to create highly distinctive features.
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