Rudi Repenning Gives New Life To Reclaimed Wood

ART + CULTURE | BY | April 25, 2018
In his Miami studio, furniture designer Rudi Repenning shows a seat from his latest series in Dade County Pine.
In his Miami studio, furniture designer Rudi Repenning shows a seat from his latest series in Dade County Pine.
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Scandinavian sleekness goes to the tropics in the furniture designs of Miami-based Rudi Repenning. Inspired by the rich textures of reclaimed local wood, the Swedish-born designer blends neat, geometric lines with exposed, weathered surfaces. “I like to show the impressions of time on these boards–the nail holes, the chipped paint, the kind of marks that collect over the years,” says Repenning. We spoke with the designer about cultivating inspiration in the studio, and always greeting the sunrise in style.

How do you get your creative juices flowing?

The best way to start a creative flow is to stand in front of my pile of wood. When I go into my shop, I head straight to my large stack, and start looking at each individual board. That immediately starts the process of designing.

What does your morning routine consist of?

I try to start my day softly. I need a good cup of cafe con leche, nice and strong. Then I sit down in my nice Eames lounge chair and watch the sun rise over the skyline of Miami. That puts me in a good mood for the day.

What was one particular piece that you were surprised by the outcome.

Definitely the Bird’s Nest table. I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to do. I started to add piece by piece, placing where I felt it was needed. I was surprised and pleased with how it looked pretty much how I wanted, without knowing in advance what that was.

One trend I hope never goes out of style is…

The clean lines of post-modern furniture, particularly in its use of wood. Natural wood brings a warmth that no other material can bring. I hope it never goes out of style.

Tell us about your all-time favorite piece in your home.

My latest chair, made in Dade County pine with tongue-and-groove joints, and added to the seat at an angle. I love using the wood in a more surprising, unorthodox way. That is what I feel comes closest to what I love doing design-wise.

Ultimate dream home:

I love the style of tropical living, so it has to have an outdoor back garden and a large back porch. My favorite homes are in Key West; they seem so unassuming when you drive pass them, but go inside and the whole place opens up to the most gorgeous gardens.

Tell us your favorite family tradition and what makes it so special.

I love doing the big smorgasbord when I go home for Christmas with my family. The Swedish version is fantastic, with all kinds of jellies, pates and meatballs, served with a special type of bread sold only during the season. It’s perfect for a crystal clear, sunny day, surrounded by three feet of snow. I never try to recreate the spread in South Florida, because it would never be the same. I like to keep it for when I go back home.

The best piece of advice I ever received was…

It may be cliche, but it would be to follow your passion, if you’re able to. Whether you can pursue it full time or part time, never let go of your passion, because that is what will sustain you in the long run.

PHOTOS: MARY BETH KOETH

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