Asian Echoes for Mid-Century Modern

People / Products / June 9, 2014

It may have started out an Asian-influenced, handcrafted wood furniture maker in San Francisco nearly 20 years ago, but Gingko Home Furnishing’s newest designs show a definite influence of the mid-century modern.

The company recently unveiled its nails-free Lewis living set and Pascal chairs, all made from walnut, their nail-free, mortise and tenon joints created in the Old World style.

“We started out working with vintage Asian pieces but that severe Ming aesthetic, with its hand work and craftsmanship, was just the beginning,” says Sarah Chang, owner of the company with her husband, Jerry Hsia. “A lot of it was being mass produced at the time, but we said: ‘What if you turn it out and took the time with qualified craftsman?’”

So they began to create lasting and beautiful pieces that were classic rather then throw- away.

The new Lewis line borrows from the best of the mid-century Danish designs, though Chang sees Eastern influences too.

“It has a lot of echoes of certain Asian pieces,” she says. “Mid-century modern is becoming mainstream now, but we’re trying to expand the proportions a little bit. We don’t want to slavishly follow the design, but to interpret it.”

When the duo develops a new line, they’ll take the pulse of what’s in the marketplace and what it’s looking for from a design perspective. But they play to Gingko’s core strengths – and they have the hybrid perspective of both maker and retailer.

“We design but we sell too,” she says. “We’re never divorced from that reality – that it may be fabulous and gorgeous – but suppose it won’t fit in my home?”

The result is a sensitivity to the limited space inside a San Francisco-area residence.

“The square footage of a home is so valuable that you can’t afford to furnish it improperly,” she says. “What’s proper is up to owner. But our furniture is scaled well and comfortable, and meets design the trends of the day.”

And they’re all designed to try to enhance their clients’ lives.

“It’s a tall order, but our feeling is that if it fits your lifestyle and your home it will be a pleasure every day interacting with that,” she says.”On the other hand, it has to be practicable, marketable and deliverable.”

And reasonably priced too: The Lewis dining room table is $1,580; the media center, $1,450; the side table, $490; the dining chair, $285; and the Pascal chair, $325.


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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

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