Danny Killion and Kate Hammill, co-owners of Weathered Wood in Downtown Troy, specialize in making functional furniture out of reclaimed wood and driftwood. They have been in business for four years. As one of The Garage’s private suite designers, they plan to add nature-inspired touches to the space. This interview was conducted with Danny at the Weathered Wood shop at 13 Second St. in Troy.
How did you get into your business?
Well, I used to work in construction and one day I went down along the Hudson River after work just to have some downtime. While I was there, I found an old piece of driftwood with a rock embedded in it. I thought that it was really cool and it inspired me to go along the rivers more often to see what else I could find. I was always really interested in art so I got involved in the art community in Albany and was doing a few driftwood sculptures for gallery openings and little things for friends. Then it just started to pick up momentum. We started selling through another store four years ago and a year later we opened our own store because we had a lot of demand.
How did you and Kate get into business together?
I met Kate along the way and she was also making handmade things. She actually pried her way into the business. One day she came into my studio and was like, “how do you do this?” “How do you do this?” and I was like: “here are some tools. Go over there and make your own things, because I’m over here making things.” That’s really how it happened!
What is usually your main influence when designing a piece?
I want a piece to be both practical and interesting. So, a table is a table…it’s a flat surface that you put stuff on. But the amount of character that’s in that table is up to you as an artist. We have to create functional things because that’s the business we’re in…but it also has to be interesting. The materials absolutely influence the design, so nature and wood are my biggest inspirations.
Did you have a design mentor?
No I didn’t—I was working a full-time construction job when we started this so I never really thought of it as a way to make a living. I took art classes when I was younger just for fun and enjoyed painting and sculpting but I didn’t see either as a way to make income. The only way we learned how to make it into an income was to have our pieces be practical and functional so as we figured that out, we naturally gravitated into the business. When I met Kate she had like five scrap books filled with taped in pictures that she had ripped out of home décor magazines (this was before the days of Pinterest). It was a hobby for her. Kate found herself living in her own house at a young age and she didn’t have any ideas about how to decorate so she’d go through home décor magazines and she started to develop a passion for creativity and design. When we met, it was kind of the perfect storm.
What excites you most about the process?
I think that the thing that excites me the most is seeing a project evolve from start to finish. The last conference table that I did was a massive seven-foot table. At the beginning of the project, I was sitting at a pizza place drawing sketches on my receipt while talking on the phone with my client. The thing that excites me the most is seeing a project completed from a little drawing on a receipt to an actual table in an office.
What do you think makes you unique from other designers?
Well, we’re not designers. We kind of just fell into it. Finding cool pieces of driftwood along the river is what got us to where we are now. To become designers we didn’t go to school for design. We were just into being creative and I think that’s what sets us apart from other people who went to school for it. I didn’t like my job. There was no creative aspect to my commercial construction job it was just super cookie cutter…and it left a hole in my soul that creativity needed to fill.
What does being part of the Downtown Troy community mean to you?
It means being part of a whole group of people who are like-minded and bringing energy and creativity to the area. It’s having a family of people that are doing the same thing—trying to make Troy a cool spot. When we worked at our last location in Troy, I was building some stuff with driftwood and I was running a chainsaw on the street. The mayor at the time, Lou, pulled up and got out of his car so I was a bit nervous. I asked him if it was a problem and he said, “No, I love it!” That’s just a testament to how much Troy embraces the wacky, crazy stuff that we’re up to and we’re really happy to be part of such a community.