Into the Wood
Aaron Pahmier—idealist, entrepreneur—makes his mark with Green Sawn furniture
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In a world of mass-produced everything, Aaron Pahmier, owner of Green Sawn, a sustainable furniture and woodworking shop, is the type of guy you just want to hug for his utopian take on commerce. “Maybe I’m an idealist, but I like the idea of working with customers the way it was done a long time ago, when you’d go to the shoemaker and he’d make your shoes, and the baker would make your bread,” says the 26-year-old Indiana-born artisanal-baker-turned-furniture-maker, who, despite his nostalgic inclinations, is far from a grumpy old man.
Pahmier’s one-of-a-kind coffee table (above) and console (right) are made from red oak flooring reclaimed from a Chicago residential teardown; small faceted-wood rocks by Kindling (below) are $16 each at Post 27.
Pahmier moved here from Eugene, Oregon, in 2006 and assisted a master carpenter before striking out on his own with Green Sawn about a year and a half ago (the decision came to him during a soul-searching trip to France). He makes everything from custom cabinets to countertops to coffee tables out of reclaimed lumber; his rustic-modern designs are sold through eco-minded shops Post 27 (post27store.com) and Green Home Chicago (ghcdesigncenter.com).
Pahmier’s Northwest Side space is across the hall from the studio of Bladon Conner, whose unique repurposed and photo-covered furniture has been featured in our pages (he has recently started making his own pieces from wood and metal). The building, at 2612 W. Nelson St., is a mini version of 319 N. Albany Ave., a more established hub of furniture makers in Garfield Park. (Pahmier’s sister, a 29-year-old designer who partners with her brother in a wood accessories business called Kindling, also works in the Nelson space.) There’s definitely a collaborative spirit at play here. Trained as an architect, Conner came to furniture making from a more conceptual place and has taken lessons in cabinetry from Pahmier, who in turn has gleaned fundamentals of design from his neighbor.
Photograph: (Pahmier) James P. Morse