GETTING TO KNOW ERA66
by Chris Tiessen
era66 is the creation of life and business partners Kip and Alexa (Lux) Perry – two talented, focused, and innovative craftsfolk whose growing company is one of Guelph’s most amazing treasures. These business owners share common passions of accomplished creativity, a sense of autonomy, and a love for creating custom furniture with modern functionality – coined #midcenturymodern. TOQUE recently sat down with Kip and Lux in their expansive workshop in Guelph’s ‘The Ward’ neighbourhood to talk shop.
Here’s what they had to say:
How old were each of you when you built your first piece of furniture?
Lux: I was 20 – it was actually the first commission pieces we sold as era66. [Laughs.] The client was under the impression that I’d built hundreds already, though!
Kip: 19 – it was a set of drawers for Lux.
How did you fall into this profession?
Kip: Cabinetry is a family business – my parents own a furniture company in town. I wasn’t interested in getting involved with the family business, but Lux really encouraged me to get into it through our own designs. Which now makes me a third-generation cabinet-maker.
How do you define era66?
Lux: Custom. Modern. Eclectic. And affordable too. It’s what’s been called mid century modern furniture – all designed and hand-crafted by us.
How many years has era66 been in business?
Lux: Four years – we started the business when we were twenty years old.
What are your plans for the future of your business?
Lux: We see era66 as a national, even global, brand in the not-too-distant future – as a movement that emphasizes the creation of financially-accessible, brilliantly-designed products by us and other designers who would collaborate with us under the era66 umbrella.
What makes you most excited about your work?
Lux: Seeing pieces come together in the workshop, and architectural spaces coming together as clients incorporate our pieces into them.
What’s the best part of your work day?
Kip: It’s the freedom that comes from working for ourselves – knowing that we’re our own bosses.
Lux: Telling Dwayne [Lux and Kip’s shop dog] that he’s coming to work with us. For Dwayne, ‘work’ is interchangeable with ‘walk’ – he goes crazy running and dancing around the house ‘til we head out the door.
And the most mundane part?
Lux: Filing taxes … in fact, anything that has to do with finances.
Kip: Sanding. [Laughter ensues.] We’re always trying to offload sanding onto whoever else is around the shop. It’s unavoidable. And forever awful.
What’s the most challenging part of running era66?
Lux: Definitely balancing manufacturing with marketing. Each takes time from the other, yet both are integral for present and future success.
What differentiates era66 from other furniture makers?
Lux: We’ve never emphasized maximizing profit, but instead try our hardest to keep our furniture affordable for everyday folks. One of our biggest selling points is that our product is custom, hand-crafted, and at a reasonable price point.
What do you do each day after work?
Lux: We rip off our clothes…
Kip: …and vegetate – usually in front of the TV.
Who are your inspirations?
Lux: I’m digging Ilse Crawford of IKEA, who stresses approaching design from an emotional perspective over aesthetics.
Kip: My dad, who’s successfully run a furniture business in Guelph for the past several decades.
Do you collaborate with any local businesses?
Lux: Homebody Ceramics by Heather Prouse – check her out.
Kip: And we’ve done several shoots with locals Rug & Weave.
Your favourite local restaurants?
Lux: The Airpark Café. Nothing compares.
Kip: Lucky Belly.
You’re true ‘Ward’ residents – living and working in ‘The Ward’. What do you like about this storied Guelph neighbourhood?
Lux: It’s a classic stereotypical neighbourhood, with archetypal neighbours. They’re friendly, gossipy. They will do anything for you and want to know everything about you. It’s amazing.
Kip: True. Both on our street, and in our workplace.