The Birth of a Craftsman 20

How self-taught builder Alexander Giray is turning heads with his 
beautiful take on mid-modern style furniture.

From his shop in North Boulder, artist Alexander Giray has made the seamless transition from climbing guide to craftsman. Upon meeting Giray, creator of aptly named Alexander Giray Designs, it is clear to see he is a man who has found his passion; upon seeing his work, you’d assume he’d found that passion a lifetime ago, and that he’d been honing his skills ever since. In reality, Giray began building furniture just over a year ago, and in that short time, he has made a name for himself creating stunning pieces inspired by the timeless aesthetics of Mid-Century Danish and Scandinavian design.

With nothing but a few years as an architectural student under his belt-and the vast collection of designs, he’d been sketching since he was a kid. Giray turned to YouTube videos, a welding class and internet threads to learn to build the works of art he can now call his own.

Giray employs the graceful combination of walnut and stainless steel to create furniture that “pushes design boundaries,” and becomes, due to a production limit for each design, a numbered work of art.

Sitting down with Boulder Lifestyle, Giray gives an inside look at the inspiring evolution of Alexander Giray Designs.

KR: How did you first get your start building furniture?

AG: I had this tight space between the couch and wall, and I couldn’t find a table that fit, so I built my own. The fun from making one got me working on another, and so on. I have loved being a climbing guide for the past eight years, but this satisfied my creative side.

KR: How did you teach yourself 
to build?

AG: After my first piece I kept upping the ante, which is sort of my personality. I started with a welding lesson, but everything else, including the woodworking, is all YouTube and threads. To make up ground for my lack of experience, I need to continuously learn from any source that I can, then apply what I’ve learned to my new designs.

KR: How would you describe the style of your work?

AG: Due to my passion for mid-century Danish and Scandinavian designs, I can’t help but incorporate those design fundamentals into what I am making. But there is also a lot of me, and a lot depends on what the materials dictate. Overall, I would say that my pieces are my interpretation of an evolving continuation of mid-century modern furniture.

KR: Where do you find the inspiration for each new piece?

AG: Like most artists say, “it just comes to me.” Of course, each design starts with some fundamental requirements, depending on the type of furniture. Then I dig into my mental vault of designers that I admire before I let my creativity take over.

KR: Who are a few of the designers in your “mental vault”?

AG: Mainly any designer that created a piece that was out of the norm. Furniture that pushes design boundaries and is more than a functional object; something you want to look at every day. In my opinion, Adrian Pearsall, Gio Ponti, Arne Jacobson and Vladimir Kagan are all men that believed furniture should be more than what it is.

KR: Of all the pieces you’ve designed, which is your favorite?

AG: I like them all in the way you like all of your children. They inspired me to do better. However, lately, I’m infatuated with my August chair. İt signifies such a big leap in a direction that I was hesitant to go in.

KR: How do you see your work evolving moving forward?

AG: Wood is known for its warmth because of the curves you can give it. I would like to get to a point where I can mix my geometric style, which I developed in school, and organic lines like those of Vladimir Kagan or Adrian Pearsall, and to do it with stainless steel. Eventually with those skills, further down the road, I can design entirely without influence.

KR: What is the most rewarding part of what you do?

AG: The most rewarding part of it all for me is what I do after I’m done building each piece: I take it home and live with it for several days. I examine it; I soak up its personality and presence. If I have created a piece that I would not mind admiring every day, then I have done a good job.