The Hot Seat

An emerging furniture designer melds country roots and a modern aesthetic



Calvin Dahlstrom

ETHAN KAMINSKY

For Calvin Dahlstrom, what began as a creative outlet three years ago has evolved into a new career — and lifestyle.

 “I was burned out on my corporate job,” says the Maple Valley, Wash., native and man behind Dahlstrom Designs. “I came home one day, and there was a bunch of barn wood left over from a clearing across the street. I took the wood — not sure what I was going to build with it, at first — and made an Adirondack chair. People actually liked it. So I refined it a bunch, played with the angles, and finally made one I was happy with. It took off from there.”

A few months ago, an impromptu trip to Palm Springs to visit a good friend [local arachitect Chris Pardo] inspired Dahlstrom to alter his aesthetic — and follow his passion for furniture making fulltime. “Most people thought I was crazy, but Chris believed in what I was doing and said, ‘Bring some of your stuff down and try selling it. I’ve got a space you can use.’ So I went home, loaded up my garage in a suitcase, and came down here to set up shop.”

Striving to appeal to modern aesthetics, while also bringing a fresh concept to the local design scene, Dahlstrom constructed a rustic-meets-modern hybrid he calls “The Lounger.” Made from reclaimed barn wood he trucks in from Seattle (“or wherever I can find it”), the indoor/outdoor tilt-back chair features a clean, linear exterior and comfortable, cushioned inset that invites you to sink back and lounge. “I was worried it wasn’t going to fit in with Palm Springs at all,” Dahlstrom concedes. “But it’s been really well-received.” 

He now custom-designs The Lounger — which Pardo predicts will become an “iconic piece” — using different types of wood, including new Douglas fir, cedar, and redwood, that is stained or painted, as well as custom cushions in various fabrics and colors. Next he’ll create an indoor-only model with leather cushions.

The demand for his design inspired Dahlstrom to explore his talent further, experimenting with steel and other raw materials. “I really like the mix of wood, steel, and leather,” he says. “I think it compliments modern architecture, in a way that’s different from what you typically see.”

The storefront, adjacent to Dahlstrom’s workshop, showcases his latest work. Wood planks, marked with the trees’ inherent beauty, have been carved into tabletops upon steel legs. Blocks assembled from remnants of the Seattle Pier serve as accent tables (a few of these can be seen at Bar). A large American flag, up-cycled from salvaged wood and painted black, adorns a sidewall. Statement “waterfall chandeliers,” constructed from reclaimed chains and rusted metal spheres, light the space. Dahlstrom’s next chair design — a low seat with high arms made to “make you feel like you’re sitting in a truck with your arms stretched out the window” is in progress.

These innovations have earned Dahlstrom an expanding group of clients, residential and commercial. Much of his work lies in the construction of new establishments, including Arrive and Il Corso in Palm Desert.  

Dahlstrom Designs
1566 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs 92262;
425-890-8101;
dahlstromdesigns@gmail.com

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