Maker Monday: Ken Landauer Of FN Furniture

Ken Landauer, creator of Upstate New York’s FN Furniture, is one of the most recognized modern furniture brands of today. With features dubbing the brand “genius” in the industry’s elite publications, FN’s pieces are inspired by themes of economic justice and true democracy. Created with a low-waste method, the plywood puzzle-piece furniture is connected like a children’s party bag paper airplane, making it affordable, accessible, and arguably more artistic than the ultra-expensive modern furniture elsewhere. Strategically using wood panels, slots and a whole lot of sanding, Landauer uses industrial materials for unexpectedly comfortable residential recliners. Check out some of Ken’s marvelously minimal designs below, and read about his habits as a designer in our Maker Monday below!

The F1 Chaise is an adjustable usable art installation. Plus it rocks- literally!

Andrew Joseph: What’s your wakeup ritual?
Ken Landauer: My first wakeup is usually after three hours of sleep. For the next couple of hours, I work on lots of ideas that do not succeed and a few that do, then I do yoga, go back to sleep for a couple more hours and wake up early, ready for a nap. Daytime naps rejuvenate me, and make me extra-qualified to develop recliners.

Andrew: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I forgot work and life could be separate, so I may not have a balance at all. I love to work, but too often I wake up tired from dreams of struggling to fit round pegs in square holes.

Andrew: What modern design trend makes you cringe?
Ken: Claims of “Green” make me cringe. Too often, “green” seems to refer mostly to money. I just saw an architect boast that a 7000 square foot house he made for a couple is as energy efficient as a large apartment. Awesome, but what is the couple doing with the extra 5800 square feet? What are we doing and why? Green design is gold, so maybe I’m cringing from desire.

Andrew: What’s your favorite time of day?
3 AM. I’m trying to change that preference.

Andrew: What’s your current TV obsession?
Ken: The table under the TV set.

Made of only 10 pieces, the F2 Lounge Chair is a lightweight recliner for the modern era.

Andrew: Favorite app?
Ken: The one that helps me get off the device quickest.

Andrew: Secret talent?
Ken: I’m really, really good at loading our dishwasher.

Andrew: What’s inspiring you in life (in the industry) right now?
I’m inspired by all kinds of changes to conventional American consumption: small homes, small farms, decluttering, shopping locally, buying less and better, products that age gracefully, repairs that show care, and makers of all types creating innovative, responsible designs, produced locally and marketed directly.

Andrew: How do you define beauty?
Ken: Beauty is so complicated! There’s nothing predictable about it. My partner is definitely most beautiful when we’re getting along well. We have relationships with our things as well that shape our attractions. Function, meaning and integrity are key ingredients, but beauty may be as interesting and dynamic as love.

Andrew: Favorite place to view art?

Ken: I love art, but quickly tire of conventional art in predictable places. Luckily, there’s an art to a good conversation, a good meal, or in a crutch for a tipping tree, so great art can be found in museums and also by following the innovation and intelligence surrounding us.

Photography by Patrick Farrell.

About The Maker | 
Ken Landauer makes sculpture, furniture and cabinets and he taught upper-level art in colleges for decades. Inspired by the Occupy Movement in 2010, he began to make inexpensive, zero-waste plywood furniture for gathering and dwelling. In addition to zero-waste design, he added the challenges of modern geometries, simplicity, sturdiness, yoga-inspired comfort, ecological materials, and local production. In September 2017, this pursuit led him to create FN Furniture.

The Museum of Arts and Design on Columbus Circle in NYC, the Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY and the Dorsky Museum in New Paltz, NY are using FN furniture that Ken built in his shop. 20 years of daily yoga practice informs the postures of his furniture and suited him to become the male cartoon figure in 108 Yoga Poses for Dummies.

He lives and works in a house and studio he built in Stone Ridge, NY.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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