Furniture maker and ATLA co-founder Kenny Wine takes us through a day in his life
Inspired by the timeless beauty of modern design, but unimpressed by the “romanticization” of mass production, ATLA co-founder Kenny Wine spends his days designing and building stunningly unique pieces of furniture. Each piece is made-to-order, as Kenny works “to reconcile [his] love of modernism with [his] belief that good design should be responsibly produced and leave room for individual expression.” Kenny first honed his skills as a student at CU, where he got a job in a machine shop on campus before becoming a machinist apprentice at the CIRES Machine shop. As an apprentice, he spent his days designing, building and repairing all kinds of machines, even as he began designing and building furniture in his spare time. In 2016, Kenny began his first company, New West Design Lab, while still working at CU. By 2018, Kenny was ready to venture out on his own, and thus, ATLA was born. As Kenny explains, the name is a play on the story of Atlas: a man-made steel base holding up a natural hardwood top, for this is exactly what Kenny creates — stunning furniture that boasts hardwood tops and hand-welded steel bases. While ATLA tables and benches can currently be found in a number of storefronts in Denver — Modern Nomad and Guest House, to name a few — the majority of Kenny’s work is made to order, as each customer personalizes their piece by choosing from a range of leg patterns, wood varieties and steel finishes, and specifies the dimensions necessary for their space. Even as Kenny pours his all into each original piece, he remains laser-focused on the effect ATLA and his work have on the environment. As he notes, “We have plans to understand the true impact of our production on the environment, and to have a micro-understanding —down to the last paper towel — of what waste we are producing.” In his effort to mitigate his impact, ATLA recycles all salvageable scrap material and offsets 100% of their CO2 emissions by purchasing certified carbon offsets. Beyond mitigation, Kenny is taking concrete steps to make up for any toll ATLA may take by planting ten trees for every table he makes. Finding inspiration in simplicity, geometry, durability and timelessness, Kenny, through ATLA, is putting a truly unique twist on the modern aesthetic and making a positive impact in the process.
7:16 AM: Alarm goes off-hit snooze.
7:31 AM: Wake up.
7:45 AM: Head out the door to the shop, get coffee on the way.
8:05 AM: Get to shop, review past notes, timeline, prioritize and strategize.
8:30 AM: Review my assistant Meghan’s task list; add documents and make preparations for the day.
8:55 AM: Begin reviewing my first job of the day: Titan Vans Galley cabinet.
9:00 AM: Meghan gets to work. Review her task list and go over cut sheets and questions.
9:13 AM: Start computer numeric control (CNC) router machine, drain water out of airline, machine warm up.
9:18 AM: Save CNC program and make final checks.
9:27 AM: Load the CNC with materials and tooling.
9:31 AM: Start CNC program: RUN.galley.cabinet.
9:33 AM: Office work (wearing earplugs and noise-canceling headphones).
10:40 AM: Machine program ends: unload machine, vacuum table, reload machine.
10:52 AM: RUN.galley.cabinet.
10:55 AM: Begin finalizing design and cutting operations for ATLA furniture: Chair Parts.
11:25 AM: Jump around to various projects while waiting for the machine to finish; make sure all necessary designs are up to date and orders are placed. Check in on Meghan’s progress.
11:58 AM: Machine is finished: unload, clean, remove tools and change for next set up.
12:20 PM: Load walnut glue into the machine, load program, tool touch off.
12:35 PM: RUN.walnut.chair2.parts.
12:40 PM: Run to Lucky’s for lunch and shop snacks.
12:55 PM: Return from Lucky’s and eat lunch on the bench outside of the office.
1:33 PM: Unload machine. Re-run program: RUN.walnut.chair2.parts.
1:40 PM: Set up for welding parts.
1:55 PM: Weld.
2:37 PM: Unload machine. Re-run program: RUN.walnut.chair2.parts.
2:49 PM: Weld.
3:42 PM: Unload machine. Re-run program: RUN.walnut.chair2.parts.
3:50 PM: Finish welding, clean up and organize welding area.
4:10 PM: Clean up and review final tasks with Meghan.
4:38 PM: Unload machine. Final machine clean up.
5:20 PM: Meghan leaves. Organize and complete office work.
6:00 PM: Shop neighbors come by to collaborate and hang out.
7:10 PM: Back to some unfinished design work in preparation for tomorrow’s production.
7:50 PM: Close up shop, head home.
8:03 PM: Cook dinner: eggs with spinach and mushrooms.
8:30 PM: Shower, relax and browse the internet.
9:23 PM: Roommate gets home- — catch up and discuss various subjects and projects.
10:51 PM: Head to bed.