Giving Amateur Furniture Makers a Leg to Stand On
This article appears in the Fall 2013 print issue of Modern in Denver
These are remarkable times. There is a confluence right now between DIY attitude and a hunger for intelligent, stylish design. There is just as much pride to be had in showing off the homemade craft beer one carefully labored over for weeks as there is in showing the elegant modern chair that it took you forever to track down and purchase. These ideas seem like impossible bedfellows but Erie based Modern Legs is allowing for the best of all these ideas to commingle into practical, stylish, dependable home furniture that even a novice can make in just a few hours.
Founder Justin Ritter has always felt that itch to make things himself. When asked how Modern Legs started, he explained “Whenever my wife would point out something she wanted I would feel like I could build it.” This eagerness extended to the table and bench she wanted. Enlisting the help of a metal fabrication shop next door to the gym he ran, Ritter began to work on designing and making hairpin-style legs out of iron. He and the metal shop had worked together previously to make equipment for the gym, but this would be different. The legs needed a particular feel. They were simple and sleek. They were stylish and practical. He affixed a plate on top of each with carefully pre-set screw holes. A simple, practical, and stylish idea was born. “With the legs all ready, you can get a piece of wood from the side of the road, screw the legs into it, and then have a really interesting new table.”
The hardest part of making any table or bench is making sure that it is stable and doesn’t wobble perilously, knocking things over and leaving surprised guests laying on the floor. Ritter, recognizing this, took to the internet to see if anyone else would be interested in having these custom-made, dependable legs available for projects. The answer was overwhelming.
Modern Legs doesn’t have a physical storefront. Instead, the availability of customer and merchant interactions through on-line venues has erased the need for a physical store with its expenses and difficulties. Ritter began by posting his wares on Craigslist. With a rush of orders in hand, he then expanded to the DIY hub of Etsy. It was on Etsy that things exploded. Orders were flying in from around the country and, eventually, from around the world. “We send a lot to New York and to California, but we have customers in Canada, Denmark and the U.K.” It is a particularly gratifying idea for Ritter that families around the world are eating at tables that his work supports.
Even with this influx of success, Modern Legs has kept the personality in its products. The legs are all custom-made to the specifications of customers who require certain heights to accommodate whatever they will be screwing the legs onto. Where they originally offered only the original hairpin style, Modern Legs now has seven different styles of legs available that can meet the needs of any project.
Now, with a sharp website of their own, Ritter has an ideal way to not only serve his customers, but also to interact with them in a way that a traditional store could never do. “People write me with questions or needs or advice and I always make sure to help them out as best as I can.” The site also features photos that customers take of their own creations, made possible by the custom legs that Modern Legs provides.
The future of Modern Legs has as many possibilities as the projects the legs can support. And don’t worry about taking all of the credit for yourself if you make a table using Modern Legs. Modern Legs wants it that way. They know where their legs stand.
Head to their website for more information on hairpin legs and other products.