My name is Robert William LaRow, and I’m the founder and lead designer at Moderncre8ve, a midcentury modern furniture company based in Cleveland, Ohio.
I grew up in Vermont in a family of woodworkers and carpenters, and I learned early on: if you need something, make it yourself. My journey with building things started as a child, making tree houses with my older brother. I went on to have a career as a music producer, working out of New York City and Los Angeles for 15 years. When I reached a point where I was no longer creatively satisfied with the music I was making, I turned to woodworking on the weekends as an outlet for my creativity. Around that time, I started dreaming about setting up a home workshop and changing careers so I could spend more time with my young twin daughters and newborn baby.
As I continued experimenting with furniture designs, my excitement grew — until one day, I suffered a debilitating injury on a table saw, severing many of the nerves in my dominant hand and leaving several fingers that were essential to making music completely numb. Once my hand had mostly healed, I took it as a sign to retire from music production. With that, my family and I relocated to Cleveland and purchased a 7,000-square-foot home that was devoid of all furniture. I took it upon myself to design and build everything we needed: dining tables, coffee tables, dressers, shelving, lamps and credenzas. My first few pieces for Etsy emerged from this period, and suddenly Moderncre8ve was born.
I worked out of my garage until my home became a virtual warehouse, with up to 10 dining tables in it at once. At that point, my wife gently nudged me to move my operation, so in November 2014, I opened a workshop in downtown Cleveland and hired Chad Brockett as an employee. His craftsmanship and organizational skills helped grow the company and streamline our operation, and he’s since become a co-owner of the business.
My favorite part of what I do is designing new pieces. I believe that it’s important to have a moment in the development of each piece when you fall in love with it, and I don’t consider any of my work to be complete until I have that moment. Throughout the process, Chad is the sounding board for my ideas: he hones in on the final design so that it can be duplicated, and he helps filter which ideas become finished products. We source all the wood and materials ourselves, often working with local sawyers, metal suppliers, and Amish lumber mills. I believe the love and pride we put into our craft really shows in the final pieces. Customers can always tell when there is true love and passion in the work.
I love working with customers who are as passionate about furniture — and how it’s made — as I am. Once, I worked with someone who had been searching for a dining table for six years before finding us. I sent him photos of the wood as I was building his table — including the tree it came from — and he ended up framing the pictures and displaying them in his home. When people are passionate about the story and process, it transforms a table from just another piece of furniture to a form of self-expression. Our long-term goal for Moderncre8ve is to stay focused on quality and customer service. We believe that keeping our values and our “small batch” philosophy will help grow our following of happy and loyal customers in the years to come.
All photographs by Moderncr8ve.