The Keefrider Story
It used to be that furniture was appreciated as a work of art integral to our daily lives, and expected to last for generations. Our lives are lived quite literally in, on and around the furniture that we choose for ourselves. We sleep in our beds, eat at our dining tables, work at our desks - few things are such tangible parts of our everyday existence.
Today in many ways it seems that furniture has become disposable, and the more disposable it seems, the poorer quality it is made, and the more disposable it becomes. This is not only unsustainable and bad for our enviroment, but it also takes away from the great pleasure that can be had in owning a beautiful piece of furniture that really speaks to you, and that you can count on as a constant in your life.
At Keefrider we make it our mission to handcraft heirloom quality furniture tailored to our clients, so that it can be loved and lived in for decades, even generations, to come. Jay Keefrider, founding craftsman of the Keefrider workshop, has been dedicated to designing and building furniture this way for over twenty years.
Jay landed his first job in a professional shop as a teenager, learning to build furniture alongside renowned master craftsman and sculptor Jack Larimore, in Philadelphia. Working with Jack was an inspiration for Jay - it was in this shop that he developed the passion for fine woodworking that would drive his career, and he never looked back.
Jay left Philadelphia to study furniture design at the acclaimed Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia. At SCAD he was fascinated by the diversity of techniques and tools and materials at his fingertips, and dove in head first creating inspired works in wood, metal, plastics and any number of other media. After receiving his BFA, Jay packed up and moved to California to fulfill his dream of starting his own furniture workshop, and founded Cotterpin Design in 2001.
For many years, many projects, and many clients turned friends, Cotterpin thrived. Jay and his partners and collaborators grew together, building custom designed furniture with the level of meticulous craftsmanship and innovation that can only come from artists with a true love for their work. Over the years Cotterpin expanded its members as well as its range, designing and building a variety of other projects, including custom built-in work and finish carpentry in homes and businesses, art installations, display rooms, custom sourced and installed architectural millwork, television and movie sets and more.
With the success of Cotterpin, Jay found a whole new audience and array of applications for his design and manufacturing talents, which was both challenging and thrilling. However, with the day-to-day responsibilities of running a growing business, he began to feel removed from the craft he loved. He sometimes found himself nostalgic for the days of working closely with a client on a single finely crafted custom designed piece.
Jay's wife Sirie received her PhD in Molecular Biology from Yale in 2010, and loved her life in the lab. She also had a creative bent however, and had always been a talented and active artist, focusing on drawing and photography. After the pair were married Sirie began spending more and more time working with Jay in the shop, learning design and technique, and simply fell in love with woodworking. Finally, after 15 years as a research scientist, she decided to trade in the lab coat for a shop apron for good.
In 2014 Jay and Sirie pulled up stakes in LA and headed for Santa Barbara, where they founded Keefrider Custom Furniture. They opened the shop with this simple goal: to create innovatively designed, meticulously handcrafted furniture that truly represents each client.
Over the past few years the Keefrider shop has blossomed into a nexus of art and design at the corner of Haley and Olive Streets. We find our greatest pleasure in working with our clients on a wide variety of projects and styles. As the Dutch designer Anthon Beeke once said, “Having a style is like being in jail.” At the Keefrider workshop we take pride in our ability to continually expand the range of our design and building capabilities, and we are constantly seeking out new challenges and ways to learn. The more we learn and experience, the more we can make use of these tools to design and create furniture that is as unique as each of our clients.
To make furniture that lasts for generations you need two elements: skilled and meticulous craftsmanship that will stand up to the years, and original yet timelessly beautiful designs that will make people want to keep them. You can find Jay and Sirie, their small team of apprentices, and trusty shop mascot Tallulah, happily spending their days in the Keefrider workshop with that single idea in mind.
If you would like to talk with us about a custom piece, or just stop by and check out the workshop, click on the contact link above to get in touch!