“I’m a big history buff in Chicago and architecture,” he said. Also, he is keen on beautiful furniture.
“I always was interested in unique things,” he said.
“I started out as a manufacturer’s rep designing mostly high-end office interiors, board rooms, stuff like that,” Levy said. “I started thinking about sustainability and what was offered in the industry. I put this idea together where I was able to bring together resources, I found fabricators in Chicago so I orchestrated this and I was able to come up with some design concepts. We integrated these materials into conference tables and simple pieces.”
Levy is co-owner of the company he began in a garage in Elk Grove Village. Currently, they operate in a two-story, 20,000 square foot office space, showroom and manufacturing center in the West Loop, where much of their furniture is created and made from reclaimed wood.
“We use trees from the Chicago metro area that had fallen in storms or died from disease or would otherwise would have been chipped or left to rot,” he said.
One of their first customers was Starbucks.
“So if you go into Starbucks and you see a table that says reclaimed urban wood stamped on the top of it, that is wood from Chicago that’s been used to make that furniture,” said Levy.
At present, you are able to see their creations in Whole Foods, Goose Island and inside tech companies like Twitter and Braintree.
“We’ve done a lot of tech companies because they’re a little more creative and outside the box thinking. They can have a very personalized touch to the project just by not only being responsible with the materials but being locally fabricated,” said Icon Modern partner Aaron Tvrdy.
He and Levy are even known to put on the boots and hardhats and search for their own materials.
“We do furniture out of car hoods, we do furniture out of twigs,” Levy said. “We are going to junkyards, usually in the nicer weather, and we’re actually hand picking hoods and trunks form vintage 60s, and 70’s domestic vehicles.”
The key to their product is sustainability, something more and more companies want.
“You go to a restaurant and everybody wants locally made food and that message is really crossing boundary into this contract world,” Levy said. “Traditionally, this is furniture you wouldn’t think about where it’s made. But now to be able to walk in and have your reception desk made from a tree that grew in Grant Park, it offers the customers to retell that story. That story, that sustainability, the true sustainability of products is becoming more and more important every day.”
Furniture with a story. Sustainable design from the urban forest, a niche market that Levy says will keep them relevant and growing. “There are a lot of people doing things what we do, but there aren’t a lot of people doing everything we do,” he said. “We hope to take the sustainable message as far as we can.”