There’s a new trend of makers in the furniture industry. While a stroll through the average home a few years ago would yield the obvious ‘that table is from IKEA, those cabinet knobs are from Lowe’s,’ “I think more people are more intrigued by a not so plain-Jane piece of furniture or hardware,” says Ian Maclean, owner of Hairpinlegs.com.
Maclean and his wife, Allie, are fabricating mid-century style legs, and as of recently, unique hardware, coveted by contractors to DIY’ers. It’s an industry Maclean grew up in as his family owned a commercial woodworking shop in Columbus for many years. As he began his tenure at the family business, focus shifted from hotels and banks to retail displays.
“That market took a pretty serious hit as the internet obviously became more prevalent,” he says.
The family sold the business in the early 2000s and Maclean pivoted to cabinetry and furniture work.
“One of the things I quickly noticed was finding competent metalworkers was a problem,” he says.
Many metalworkers were used to making parts for very different clientele than furniture or display makers. Armed with his own knowledge of the process and friends with a machine shop that were willing to help out, Maclean began taking on any and every metalworking project he could get.
Hairpinlegs.com has now been operating in some iteration for over a decade. Maclean took time to work for Rogue Fitness, playing a role in getting its manufacturing operations up and running, but for the past three years has focused his full-time energy on the legged-venture.
An early connection with a furniture restoration company in Cleveland steered Hairpinlegs.com’s designs towards mid-century modern. Maclean says it was a niche market that there wasn’t a lot of support for.
The legs are attracting designers and larger shops, to the DIY’er that wants to make their own table, with each accounting for about half of Hairpinlegs.com’s business.
Maclean says he’s recently seen a huge trend of smaller makers. Find a decent piece of wood, add in some nice handmade steel legs – one doesn’t have to be a master craftsman to put together a piece of long-lasting furniture that’s not like every other IKEA coffee table.
“I think that’s what the current demand is – the simplicity, the affordability,” Maclean says.
Hairpinlegs.com also works with a plethora of designers, with Maclean saying they can handle about anything sent their way. His background in retail display and retail display construction provides an expertise that’s not just about selling legs.
While the business’ designs can be found at many a Columbus hotspot – NorthStar, Sweet Carrot, Seventh Son – Hairpin legs are holding up furniture across the country as the e-commerce platform has built a nationwide reach. Hairpinlegs.com has sold primarily online since its inception, but a purchased production facility at 520 Dow Ave. is expanding the business into brick-and-mortar storefront.
It’s easy enough to ship legs and hardware across the country, but larger pieces present a challenge.
“I wanted to create something in Columbus where I could take care of that market,” Maclean says.
The storefront will display their online inventory, “As well as custom pieces, larger pieces that we don’t necessarily want to ship, and then also make it a resource for someone who wants to put together a piece of furniture,” Maclean explains.
The store will provide a professional space to meet with clients and work through custom-designed pieces.
The retail space is not the only something new for Hairpinlegs.com. Maclean is also moving into more hardware – cabinet pulls, cabinet knobs, etc. Because of the shop’s existing capabilities, “I can easily make a custom set of knobs and pulls that no one else is going to have,” Maclean says.
Regular hours for the storefront are expected to solidify over the next few months.
For more information, visit hairpinlegs.com.
All photos via Hairpinlegs.com.