My interview with designer Andrew Coslow came about because I’d been searching online for an American-made credenza.One of my favorite designs was the FU_Barlow, a beautiful modern piece that caught my eye, not just because of the space it occupies, but because of the space it does not. I was so intrigued by the design that I just had to look up more work by the person who made it. That’s when I found the ByAndrewCoslow shop on Amazon Handmade.I was very impressed with the way all the pieces in the collection showed the same laser-sharp, mature design sensibility, a feat that many designers achieve later in their careers, if at all. Yet, the page featured a photo of a surprisingly young-looking guy.My next surprise came when I glanced at the contact information for Andrew Coslow and saw that he was located only an hour from my house. I called him immediately and a week later I was standing on a cliff in Union City, New Jersey, with Coslow (and his dog, Winston), admiring the beautiful view of Hoboken and New York City that he enjoys from his workspace.It’s located in this 1916 factory building; the kind of place that some Americans find scary and depressing, but is beloved by many of us who grew up in the industrial Northeast, especially when there are still creative people making magic inside. Coslow told me how he loves gaining knowledge from older craftsmen who are his fellow tenants .Coslow described how he has worked in this space for 4 years, designing his own furniture line and supplementing his income with wood and metalworking for various contractors.The furniture that Andrew Coslow makes has a friendly, accessible vibe, but you’d never call it cute. It is modern, but not austere; strong but elegant in the way of a ballet dancer. His inspiration is clearly Scandinavian, but the furniture has a playfulness that is All-American. (That playfulness is also apparent in the naming of the credenza mentioned above. He tells how he was commissioned to design it for a friend named Barlow, who was unable to come up with the cash at completion. Hence, the FU_Barlow moniker, though they remain friends.)The backstory only makes the collection more interesting. When Coslow was first designing it, he lived in a fifth floor walk-up apartment in Hoboken. His tools were limited to “a chop box, a drill gun and a sander.” This meant that every piece of furniture was limited to parts and materials he could carry up and down the stairs by himself and fabricate with his tiny tool collection. These limitations didn’t stifle his creativity, they drove it to a higher level.His first creation was his own bed, above.
The collection also features some non-furniture items, including several skateboards……and some pet items, modeled online by Winston.Coslow says he hopes that, one day, he can make a living solely from his furniture – a goal that seems well within reach for someone of his talent. He says he knows it won’t be easy. In fact, Coslow almost went belly-up once already, when he overstaffed after a flush, but temporary, period of contracting work. He seems undaunted, though, saying he probably has “more mistakes to make” on the way to his goals.
One of my goals is to have Andrew Coslow make me a credenza one day. However, I’m going to wait until I’m certain I can afford it. The FU_Kathy design is something I’d rather not see on his website.