Update (7/18 7:30pm): @jamesthomasbyrd is our winner, thanks for entering the contest!
We have highlighted many talented companies, groups and individuals in our Small States series as the artisan subset of American manufacturers has seen a rebirth over the last decade. Not only are there quality goods being handcrafted on a daily basis from Brooklyn to Portland, people are changing their lives around just to pursue a passion of creating beautiful products with their hands.
Erol Chandler is no exception to this movement. After a career that has included two Master’s Degrees, a stint as a middle school science teacher and truck driver, it was time to start a new adventure. At thirty years old and armed with a lifetime of interest in making things by hand, A-Lamp Design was born in Oregon. Now, Erol is taking to Kickstarter to share his skills and bring a little light to everyone’s home.
Erol is a true renaissance man: well spoken and filled with stories that are as intriguing as his geometric light fixtures. Working with his hands has always been an interest, which started when he was a teenager and faced with the challenge of finding transportation.
“When I was 15, my Dad got me a ’69 VW Beetle that didn’t run and he said ‘if it runs by the time you’re 16, you can have a car’. When I got into it, I was absorbing it and got it running in a month but then decided to take the whole thing apart. Since then I’ve just been into working with my hands.” He said, “there is something really satisfying about taking something that may not be interesting to people and applying some energy, making it into something attractive.”
After skipping out on the Portland education system, he made the trek to Eugene in an effort to downsize and pursue his dream. Although Erol’s life has been a winding journey of fascinating stories and occupations, he’s found a place in making these beautiful lanterns for homes.
“I loved teaching, making an impact but the school system is so far from repair. I started spending a lot of time in the garage, working with my hands and that’s when I first made the Type A Lamp. As I started building that piece, I came up with some other ideas and eventually the Type O Lamp.”
The Type A has a triangular shaped design made of finely sanded walnut with a soft-glowing Edison style bulb hanging from its perch. The red cord snakes through a cutout area in the A frame and out the side of the lamp, making for a delightful pop of color against the walnut. Recessed lines highlight one side of the frame and a small crossbar serves as a resting place for the cap and electrical contact point.
Over the last year, A-Lamp has seen bumps in success along the way highlighted by an upcoming retail relationship with Rejuvenation, a west coast Williams-Sonoma subsidiary. As interest has grown, it has allowed for more opportunity to pursue other products. Erol’s latest creation, the Type O lamp has the same smooth geometric design that ensconces a light bulb in a box and can be made from a few different wood options. Much like the Type A, it has a pop of color from a red/white cord that extends from its base and a silver switch to power it on. Type O comes in a few different color options and finishes, bright yellow, glossy black and seafoam green welcome a vintage flair to the collection.
“The more that I think about it, I’d love to be the person behind every Type O Lamp. I hope to never loose that part of my company, not being involved, I’d rather not take that avenue. My preference would be to continue to refine my craft and build this into a true small business making quality products with my own hands.”
One of our favorite parts of the story is A-Lamp’s commitment to sourcing materials from the United States. The walnut for both products comes for the east coast while the Type O Lamp’s poplar comes from just up the road. Even more impressive, the light bulbs are manufactured in Texas and those cheery red cords come from one of the only UL certified companies in America: Conway Electric. Aside from being a splendid addition to a living room, bedroom or kitchen, this is an extra special piece to owning an A-Lamp product.
So what’s next on Erol Chandler’s lighting journey? He’s currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign that is offering discounts on all of his products. Although it’s a means of delivering capital for his company, A-Lamp won’t cease to exist if the campaign isn’t fully funded. However, if you’re interested in procuring one of these handmade beauties, you’ll want to get in on the Kickstarter pricing.
This week, we’ve partnered with A-Lamp Design to giveaway a Walnut Type-O Lamp to two lucky 9to5Toys readers. To enter this giveaway, follow @9to5Toys on Twitter and retweet the article. If Facebook is more your thing, Like us and share this article with your friends.