David’s appreciation for design and architecture began at an early age with art classes beginning at the age of 5. However, it was in his adolescent years where this desire to flex the creative and artistic muscles were truly realized. David attended the Cranbrook School in suburban Detroit’s Bloomfield Hills. Cranbrook was founded in the 1920s with a primary goal of instilling the arts and sciences in its students. This included a 300 acre campus shaped by the architect Eliel Saarinen, a contemporary of Frank Loyd Wright. Impressive sculptures dot the campus by renowned artist Carl Milles, a resident instructor at Cranbrook for 30 years. And perhaps of most known fame, the campus houses the Cranbrook Art Academy, one of the top graduate art schools in the world. Its impact on modern design is unquestionable with students and instructors including Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, Harry Bertoia,, Florence Knoll, Paul Evans and Keith Haring. By 1984, the New York Times would say that "the effect of Cranbrook and its graduates and faculty on the physical environment of this country has been profound ... Cranbrook, surely more than any other institution, has a right to think of itself as synonymous with contemporary American design. It is this same “effect” that has inspired David’s pursuit of high quality furniture design and construction with a particularly rich design aesthetic. After 20+ years as a business professional and management consultant, David decided to return to his roots and combine these two worlds in the form Nashif Custom Designs.
Slab furniture has been around for generations and has been growing in popularity in recent years due to its inherent, natural beauty and simple elegance. However, as with any stylized product there is a significant range of quality and desirability of options in the marketplace. It is very simple to mill a wood slab, sand it smooth, apply a finish and, in the case of a table, attach a utilitarian base. However, there is the potential for far greater form-factor, quality, and uniqueness in each piece as a work of art, rather than a more sterile piece of furniture. To achieve this, there are 3 key factors in NCD’s philosophy that set us apart:
We specialize in Claro Walnut because of its incredibly beautiful grain, figure and coloring. It is also a very dense, stable and workable wood for high grade furniture application. However, there is still more to ensuring a truly stand-out piece of furniture. David hand selects each individual piece of wood with specific focus on the uniqueness and beauty that will ultimately be drawn out through the fabrication process. This may include unique shapes, figuring, natural “defects” or otherwise eye-catching qualities. At times, we will select English Walnut and other quality hardwoods due to their incredible potential given similar attributes. Beginning with the most inspiring pieces of wood is what lays the foundation for the ultimate outcome we seek in our one of a kind furniture and designs.
Wood Sculpting and Stabilizing – We embrace the fine balance of maintaining the character of the slab’s “live-edge” while providing an artistic touch to refine elements of the natural shape with careful sculpting and sanding. When done correctly, the line between the two is blurred. Additionally, there may be cracks or checks that can become worse with time. In response, we create "butterfly" joinery for both structural, as well as cosmetic purposes. But again, rather than a basic wood structure, we often contrast the natural grain of the wood with metal, stone or petrified wood inlay butterflies. Although subtle, this approach provides a contemporary accent to our pieces. Additionally, we have spent a great amount of time developing the best mix of finishes that bring out the natural beauty of the wood, while providing the necessary protective qualities for durability and longevity of our work. The greatest insult to natural slab furniture is to layer on glossy lacquers or shellacs that are more appropriate for boat hulls. As such, we apply a satin finish to the majority of our pieces that again best works with the natural qualities of the wood.
Lastly, and perhaps most important to the overall statement a NCD piece is designed to make, is the artistic extension created with uniquely designed bases. This may include custom fabricated metal structures or factor in other complementary materials such as glass, plexi-glass, or stone. Often we use the simple yet timeless designs derived from mathematical equations, shapes, and angles, all of which can be found in nature itself. We have also recently introduced a line of re-purposed, vintage, mid century modern table bases. These range from iconic designs from the likes of Milo Baughman, Charles Hollis Jones, Roger Sprunger to those from lesser known, but equally timeless designers.