Part online shop, part design blog, Michael Kolodesh created Craft + Folk as an online destination where both sides are treated with equal respect (and excitement). “Craft + Folk was born out of a passion for architecture,” said Kolodesh. This passion manifests itself in the types of items he offers from various manufacturers whose goods he sells. He also highlights makers, artisans, woodworkers, artisans, and designers for week-long features on Instagram. This makes sense as he will often discover talent he loves through Instagram. We spoke to Michael about how he’s discovering new talent and how to buy furniture.
Why did you start with Craft + Folk?
When I worked in architecture, I realized that product design is a form of architecture on a smaller, more manageable scale. Many architects are revered for both their furniture and their buildings. I started researching woodworkers and doers. Studios like Palo Samko, Bellboy and Studio Dunn were the first to emerge. My interests were solidified when I got a job with an architecture firm that shared similar values. At the company I was introduced to many new manufacturers, so I wanted to document and share my experiences and at the same time harmonize my own design sensibilities. Instagram made it easy to keep track of different designers and aesthetics and share them with friends and others in the community.
How do you choose the items that you offer in your shop?
I have long followed and admired many of the makers I introduce, like the ones mentioned above. I have met others in one way or another; Mostly at events, exhibitions and through friends or work. I come across others on Instagram. The first move is always a visceral response. If their work stops me in my tracks, I will investigate further. Then when I see a compelling story, I decide to run a feature. I am always drawn to those who pursue their passions and build their dreams from the ground up. I find a certain kinship and familiarity with many of the stories these people have to tell. That inspires me. I’ve learned that when I’m obsessed with something, there is probably a community that shares my passions. That makes platforms like Instagram so great that we can find each other.
What’s the best part of your job?
The most rewarding element of running Handwerk + Folk is connecting with like-minded people. I think that’s what gets my engine running. Exploring different types of design and better understanding what makes them special or interesting. I pursue my various passions, ideas, thoughts and encourage others to do the same. It pays to surround myself with good design and interesting ideas every day.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Challenge me to think about design in unique, careful, and thoughtful ways. It is difficult to struggle against the practicality of everyday life. I like to be considerate of every element of my work. I think that’s what people like Steve Jobs adore. The obsession with every element. In today’s world it’s hard to get, but I’d like to try. As Craft + Folk evolves, I also challenge myself to think about how to move the design sleeve further while being socially responsible and globally beneficial. How can great design affect everyone, not just a few?
What inspires you creatively?
Travel and architecture. Whether I’m exploring my own city or traveling around the world, new experiences make me new life. From food to culture to the built environment or just looking at something from a new perspective. And there is nothing more beautiful than the poetry of incredible architecture to move the mind. I look for that as much as possible and even do architectural pilgrimages that others might get out of the way. For example, while I was in Phoenix, I took a 40 minute taxi to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West and the experience was overwhelming. In New York, Roosevelt Island and Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park are my favorite hideaways. This summer I hope to visit Baku to pay homage to one of my favorite Zaha Hadid buildings, the Heydar Aliyev Center.
Do you have any tips on buying quality investment furniture?
Get to know the piece of furniture. Understand its history and the person who made it. Why he or she did it and what decisions it made. Where does the material come from? How was it treated / transformed? Which details have been taken into account? When we look around, the best-designed objects seem to have the greatest history and consideration. Get to know the manufacturer, visit their studio and make the furniture part of your story. That’s what makes design so special. One thing I’ve learned is that seeing something online is no substitute for seeing it in person. The experience can be truly breathtaking.
Tree trunk tables
“I was fascinated by the work of Kieran Kinsela lately. He makes bizarre but functional pieces from fallen tree trunks in New York State. “
Momo wool blankets
“As far as textiles I’m a fan of Chicago-based designer Maya Mueble. They work with artisans in South America to make these and help people in small towns maintain their long-standing handicraft traditions to this day. “
Modern table & chairs
“I also admire the concept and aesthetics of the British manufacturers Feist Forest. The chairs shown are from Solidwool Studio. I haven’t introduced them yet, but they are one of the makers I’d like to report on. “
“I love them too two-tone bloak ladder. A nice way to display certain items, especially soft goods and textiles. Great in the bathroom, bedroom or maybe the kitchen or living area if the fit / purpose is right. “
“Although a bit expensive, it made me fall in love Leather backpack for some time from Loyal Stricklin from Opelika, AL. I always try to include items that encourage people to get out and explore, as well as items that will improve their lives at home. “