A single tree, downed during a violent storm which struck Chicago last year, lives on in the center of downtown Chicago, reborn into dozens of fresh ideas.

Idea Tree sprouts in a 5,000-square-foot pop-up gallery in the magnificent Inland Steel Building. The exhibit is the culmination of a design competition spearheaded by client Sawbridge Studios in collaboration with Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), and Horigan Urban Forest Products.

Since January, IIT Architecture Professor Paul Pettigrew has focused on the distinct relationship between architecture and furniture design with students. Using wood from a single, storm-felled tree as core material, 24 students began the process of designing and creating a furniture piece, as well as a small accessory item. Along the way, students were mentored by Sawbridge Studios craftsmen and furniture makers, providing input and suggestions on how to best bring their ideas to life.

A panel of judges including  Jan Parr, Editor of Chicago Home + Garden Magazine,  top Chicago architect Gunny Harboe, FAIA, President of Harboe Architects, and Lloyd Natof of SL Natof Design (great-grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright)  determined “Best in Show,”  with all 40+ pieces on display in the Idea Tree exhibit.

The exhibit is part of the Chicago Loop Alliance’s popular “Pop Up Art Loop” program, open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 1 through June 29 at 77 South Dearborn Street, Chicago. Admission is free.

Idea Tree is an on-going effort by Sawbridge Studios to encourage innovation in American artistry and craftsmanship. Headquartered in a converted 1880s livery stable at 1015 Tower Court, Winnetka, Illinois, Sawbridge Studios features the works of over 80 individual, one-of-a-kind craftsmen, artisans and furniture makers from around the country, and has become the largest retail source in the U.S. for handcrafted, American-made furnishings and accessories. w


       – Treehugger

       – Chicago Reader

       – Chicago Tribune

       – Furniture and Furnishings

       – Chicago Loop Alliance

       – Chicago Home + Garden

      – Chicago Examiner

      – Furniture Today

      – Racked Chicago

      – Michigan Avenue Magazine

      – Time Out Chicago

      – Modern Destiny


      – IIT Today

     – Where Magazine

     – Daily Herald

     – SmartGreen

     – Furniture Today

    – Apartment Therapy



Sawbridge Hosts IIT Student Design Project


Sawbridge Studios is spearheading and organizing a furniture design competition in conjunction with Illinois Institute of Technology and Horigan Urban Forest Products.

The project involves IIT Architecture Professor Paul Pettigrew focusing on the distinct relationship between architecture and furniture design with the 24 students in his Spring 2012 class which began mid-January.  Students are being mentored by Sawbridge Studios craftsmen and furniture makers, designing and constructing furniture pieces using wood from a single felled tree, downed during a major storm that swept the entire Chicagoland last June. The project culminates end of May with a selection process of the best resulting pieces, judged by a panel including Jan Parr, Editor of Chicago Home + Garden Magazine, Matt Seiler, President of the Chicago Furniture Designers Association and more.

The Chicago Loop Alliance will then showcase the students’ work during a special two-month summer exhibit in the heart of downtown Chicago at State and Randolph Streets as the centerpiece of their popular “Pop Up Art Loop” program.

Frank Lloyd Wright Descendant Carves Own Niche

From an unpretentious studio/factory perched on the top floor of a century-old building, curiously positioned between the grit of the local police precinct headquarters and the glitz of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studio, lies a modern day master at work.

For the past 18-years, client Lloyd Natof (SL Natof) — great grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright — has steadily built a loyal following among connoisseurs and collectors of America’s Studio Furniture movement. Though the concept of Studio Furniture remains popular on both the East Coast and the Pacific Northwest, it now seems to be gaining a stronghold in the Midwest, and specifically Chicago.

“There’s a tremendous niche market among individuals seeking furniture that is distinctly unique and personal to them; and not available to the masses in furniture showrooms and stores. My work, and the work of other Studio Furniture artists, has an originality that combines art, functionality and craftsmanship,” explains the self-taught Natof.

Read more about it:

Lake Magazine

Chicago Tribune

Apartment Therapy

Chicago Journal

ABC-7 190 North

Chicago Magazine


Chicago Home + Garden

Wood Shop News

Oak Leaves

CS Magazine

Haute Living