Sculptor, designer, or fine furniture maker? Ken Landauer is not interested in defining what he does. Whether he’s furnishing a design museum or creating a comfortable chair for home use, his priority is producing beautiful and durable pieces — and doing so sustainably.
“I’m more into making something that’s good rather than deciding what something is,” says Landauer. “I would much rather see a good piece of design than a bad piece of art.”
Landauer’s business card describes him as chairperson, since he’s the CEO of Stone Ridge-based FN Furniture, but he also notes that he’s a “chair-person.” Get it?
Early in his career, Landauer realized how wasteful furniture making could be, sometimes producing seven times as much waste as the finished product, so he challenged himself to create more consciously and aim for zero waste.
Using 99% of a sheet of plywood, he crafted an attractive seven-foot table and some chairs, efficiently locking the parts together like a puzzle. The table was a hit, prompting orders. His orders increased even more after he was hired to make furniture for all five floors of NYC’s Museum of Arts and Design. “I’ve been running ever since and trying to catch up.”
Creating a sustainable product requires more than zero waste. “A truly sustainable product needs to be durable; it needs to be comfortable; it needs to be beautiful, and it needs to be expensive enough that people don’t want to just dispose of it and get another one.”
Yogic principles also shape the design of Landauer’s pieces. “I’ve been practicing yoga daily for over 20 years. It’s alignment-based yoga, so I am very aware of my body when I’m sitting on furniture. I’m also aware of other people’s posture. I’m aware of the curve in your lumbar spine, for example, or where your head needs to be. I’m making furniture that supports bodies in a comfortable posture.”
One example of his body-conscious design is the geometric chaise Landauer calls his zero-gravity piece, a lounging chair designed to reduce pressure on joints and muscles. “You can raise it up, so that your feet are elevated, and you have the blood flowing back to your heart,” says Landauer.
Shoppers can view his furniture online at www.fnfurniture.com or in person at the shop, by appointment.