Inside David Stark’s Pop-Up Wood Shop

(Photos: UnBeige and Courtesy David Stark Design)

David Stark has applied his artist’s eye and bricoleur’s ingenuity to the retail scene with Wood Shop, a temporary takeover of fellow RISD alum Nina Freudenberger‘s Haus Interior in New York. As you may recall from our recent interview with the event designer, his “surprise ambush” has filled the cozy homegoods emporium with limited-edition goodies inspired by a woodworker’s studio, from hand-crocheted saw pillows and rugged Carhartt-brown canvas placemats to a tool box worth of delicate gold pendants and hand-turned poplar vases that suggest a collaboration between Giorgio Morandi and Bob Vila. The woodstravaganza lasts through Monday, February 27.

The idea for Wood Shop stemmed from a previous project for which Stark and his team created an entire house out of SmartPly, which provided a cheeky backdrop for showcasing the client company’s new collection of homegoods. “Some of the things that we made for that were so fun that we thought, wow, these could be great products,” said Stark the other day, as he guided us through Wood Shop and ended up in front of a delicious-looking dessert, made entirely of SmartPly. “The cake really came out of that kind of thing. I have a weird sense of humor, so if I walked into a store, that would be the first thing I would be drawn toward.”

Wood Shop allowed Stark to let his creative imagination run wild—even more wild than usual. “It was great, because nobody said to me you can’t do this or you can’t do that,” he said. “Of course, there were constraints, but in this particular case, I put on the major constraint, a conceptual one, which was that everything had to live within the world of inspiration of the woodworking studio.” Among the greatest challenge in creating and curating all of the products—wooden nickels, a candlestick-shaped iPhone charger, bandannas with traditional paisleys replaced by a pattern of pushpins and nails—was finding the right color palette. “We struggled with it for months, because the tendency is to want to go all over the place, and when I started to realize that it would be too much, we started to pull it back to basics and use color sparingly,” he said, pointing to the vibrant topstitching on a nearby stack of linen napkins. “I think that the balance is good, and it was very hard to achieve. After all, ‘beige’ can really mean boring. The goal was not to be beige in a boring way. The goal was to be neutral in a really luscious way.”