Kyle Yoder’s Three Rs: Rustic, Raw & Refined

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Based in Los Angeles, War Horse Furniture is the masterpiece of talented craftsman Kyle Yoder who created War Horse with the intention of preserving wood in its raw form while still transforming it into a work of art. Recently, he took some time from his hectic work schedule to answer the following questions about how War Horse was created and what exactly inspires his creativity when working with preserved woods – sometimes dating back to the early 20th century.

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What is your design background and how did you get involved in woodworking?
Since I was a kid, design and creativity has inspired me. My father’s side of the family comes from an Amish background and from them, I’ve learned about quality of work. It’s definitely a good bloodline to come from for a person that builds furniture. I’ve recently finished school at OTIS School of Art and Design in Venice which has helped fine tune my woodworking skills.

Before I started woodworking, I was making a fair living as a model but then the recession hit. Eight months without income put me in a very tight situation. So, to distract myself from the reality of how bad things had become, I started building furniture from found pieces of old wood. After fabricating a few pieces, I inquired about booth space at a nearby flea market. A man I met there happened to be the creative designer of the recent film “Eat, Pray, Love.” He ended up renting my furniture for the film, and I could finally breathe again financially. From there, I was introduced to Alternative’s founder and Chief Creative Officer Greg Alterman who was looking to fill the spot of a furniture builder for his new home. I eagerly accepted the job and with not much more than a cardboard box of old tools, I tackled the project single-handedly. Some of my most beautiful works rests in his estate. Since then I have collaborated with Alternative’s design team on many of their in-house projects. Some of my recent collections can be found in the New York Design Center, as well as Ralph Lauren’s showrooms and NBC’s corporate office.

How would you describe your design aesthetic and philosophy?
I find perfection in the imperfections. The nail holes, discolorations and inconsistencies are what make each piece so special and unique. My style is definitely heavy on the masculine, industrial side. Large slabs of old reclaimed lumber and vintage steel make up the majority of my work.

Where do most of your salvaged wood pieces come from?
I primarily source my wood from old barns and buildings throughout the midwest and the South. It’s amazing to see the different species of wood and how they vary from state to state. From that, I go through and hand select each piece for every new project.

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What do you find to be the most rewarding/fulfilling aspect of your work? What inspires you to keep building and designing?
It’s definitely that smile and excitement that a client has when they get to see their new piece for the first time. I try to keep every build as personal as possible so I apply a “Certificate of Authenticity” with the client’s name under each piece of furniture. I also use a cattle brand with the War Horse logo to brand the top of tables which gives it my signature marking. I feel quality is a large missing ingredient in a lot of today’s furniture so I do my best to be recognized for building long-lasting pieces of art.

x Eleni Snider
Photos by Stephen Zeigler

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