Making It – Petrified Design

A Spanish architect named Santiago Calatrava designs buildings inspired by some of nature’s most precious phenomenons, such as a bird taking flight or ocean waves crashing against the shore. Many consider his architecture to be giant works of art – sculptures instead of mere buildings.

In their current shop in northwest Austin, the duo has created their own tools to aid in the manufacture of their designs.

A semester spent studying Santiago’s work, among other architects, in Seville, Spain was one of the many experiences that inspired local furniture designer Gable Bostic. Gable makes up half of the team behind Austin-based custom furniture company Petrified Design. He and friend Tyson Pendergrass design and hand-make beautiful, simplistic furniture that emphasizes the unique relationship between wood and metal.

THE FIRST CHAIR GABLE AND TYSON BUILT REQUIRED AN ENTIRE DAY TO PRODUCE.

THE FIRST CHAIR GABLE AND TYSON BUILT REQUIRED AN ENTIRE DAY TO PRODUCE.

The story behind Petrified Design begins at Texas Tech University in Lubbock where Tyson studied marketing and Gable studied architecture. When Gable started dating the roommate of Tyson’s wife, the two realized they shared a passion for making which soon evolved into a business.

Upon graduation, Gable and Tyson moved to Burnet, where they worked at Reveille Peak Ranch – a 1,300 acre plot of land that hosts a private lake and several mountain bike and running trails.

“We just built pretty much whatever our boss could dream of,” Tyson says.

“And at night we would work on our own stuff,” Gable adds.

For a year, Gable and Tyson lived the small-town life. Although it wasn’t particularly exciting, the two say that the lack of nightlife in the tiny town contributed to their success; allowing them the chance
to focus on honing their craft. And thus, the beginnings
of a product line began to emerge.

THIS MODULAR STEEL CHAMBER CREATED BY GABLE AND TYSON CAN GUIDE A METAL ROD TO BE BENT AT THE PRECISE ANGLES NEEDED FOR A COMMON BASE USED IN THEIR PRODUCT LINE.

THIS MODULAR STEEL CHAMBER CREATED BY GABLE AND TYSON CAN GUIDE A METAL ROD TO BE BENT AT THE PRECISE ANGLES NEEDED FOR A COMMON BASE USED IN THEIR PRODUCT LINE.

Gable and Tyson’s work at the ranch dwindled to just a few days a week, and with the help of Austin-based home goods store Mockingbird Domestics, they were able to leave the ranch to commit to their craft full-time. Those two turning points – getting into a retail store and quitting their jobs in Burnet – would become major milestones in Petrified Design’s success story. Gable and Tyson moved to Austin two years ago and have been growing the business ever since.

In their current shop in northwest Austin, accompanied by their dogs Sam Jo, Murphy and Shep, the duo has created their own tools to aid in the manufacture of their designs. A modular steel chamber with pegs is used to guide a metal rod to be bent at the precise angles needed for a metal frame base used in their new occasional tables. “We’ll be hiring our first intern soon,” Gable mentions – subtly expressing his confidence that the system developed can allow others to help with production. Another milestone that will help them to focus on designing new product. “Creating functional pieces that everyone can use and have is pretty cool,” Tyson
says. “Everyone that buys something from us has a piece
of us in their home.”

"MY DAD TAUGHT ME HOW TO WELD WHEN I WAS EIGHT OR NINE. I WAS PROBABLY TOO YOUNG TO WELD." - GABE BOSTIC

“MY DAD TAUGHT ME HOW TO WELD WHEN I WAS EIGHT OR NINE. I WAS PROBABLY TOO YOUNG TO WELD.” – GABE BOSTIC

Petrified Design will host a studio tour for the first time this year during WEST, an annual spinoff to the popular E.A.S.T. (East Austin Studio Tour) that highlights artists in West Austin. Gable and Tyson will showcase several new designs during WEST, as well as their established pieces.

“We’ll have some of our old pieces, but with a new burst of color that we haven’t shown yet,” Tyson says.

They plan to have the shop actively functioning throughout the event so that guests can see the process behind the furniture-making as it’s happening.

Getting into Austin-based home goods store Mockingbird Domestics helped Gable and Tyson leave their jobs to commit to their craft full-time.

Getting into Austin-based home goods store Mockingbird Domestics helped Gable and Tyson leave their jobs to commit to their craft full-time.

Next on the horizon for Gable and Tyson is their own showroom, which will likely become a reality in the next few months.

“I think people will like seeing the product and knowing it was made by the people they’re talking to in the same building or next door,” Tyson says.

It’s artists like these two — and like Santiago Calatrava — that infuse natural beauty into everyday items. Like those of the inspirational architect he learned about in school, Gable’s designs are more than just practical structures: they’re pieces of art as well.

THE FINISHED BASE FOR AN OCCASIONAL TABLE IN THEIR NEW PRODUCT LINE.

BOTH GABLE'S AND TYSON'S FATHERS WERE SELF-EMPLOYED MEN WHO MADE A LIVING WORKING WITH THEIR HANDS.

A METAL BRAKE IS USED TO BEND LARGE SHEETS OF METAL FOR A NEW LINE OF CHAIRS AND LAMPS.

THE NEW CHAIRS BY PETRIFIED DESIGN DEMONSTRATE AN EVOLUTIONARY STEP FORWARD IN DESIGN AND METALWORK.

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Petrified Design

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Writing by Brooke Blanton


This article originally published in The Balance Issue of Citygram Austin Magazine [May/June 2014].
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