q|co Design melds traditional craftsmanship with new technologies to create contemporary furniture and object designs built to last for generations in Denver, CO. Their designs are both sophisticated and playful, both unconventional and familiar. They are a nod to vibrant urban landscapes and informed by endless adventures behind mountain peaks.
A Q&A with Jason McCloskey of q|co
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in up state NY, in the Finger Lakes region. I traveled to Colorado a few times to ski as a kid and fell in love. After my time in grad school for music I started working for Outward Bound in Utah. During the off season from Outward Bound I lived in Durango and it sealed my love for Colorado. I left Durango to do an apprenticeship in furniture making in California. After going to school at the Rhode Island School of Design for my masters in furniture design, I got a job teaching in the Denver area, which is what brought me back.
At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I started the creative path when I was young, but as a musician. My undergrad was in music composition and I did a year of graduate work in the same discipline. All the while I was also tinkering with making things. When I was young I helped remodel my parents house. In my undergrad I built a couple of sea kayaks and took them on tours around the coast of Maine. After my first year of masters work in music I decided to take a year off. This is when I landed in Durango with a landlord that had a fully outfitted wood shop that he gave me access to. I fell in love with the process of making and never looked back at the music degree. That was 20 years ago.
Are you self taught? Did you learn from a mentor?
When I got my first furniture job I was self taught. I had only basic machine skills at the time. After working there for a short while, I found that I was laking the skills to make what I was after as a maker. I sought out an apprenticeship with a high-end furniture maker. I found a willing Scotsmen out in California, who specialized in English period furniture. Initially I wasn’t interested that style of work, but figured if I could make a Chippendale ball and claw chair or a Queen Anne bureau I could probably figure out how to make anything. After studying and making with him for three years I found a great appreciation for the proportions and elegance of the pieces from that time period. I was still more interested in making contemporary work, which lead me to go to grad school for design at the Rhode Island School of Design, which I graduated from 7 years ago.
Do you have a favorite piece you’ve made?
I think I have two, the wing chair and the you lounge. They are both complex bent lamination pieces, which use techniques that I have been developing since I started making. I have always loved bending wood and getting to stretch to the limits. The chairs are the culmination of the hand work, that I was focused on before grad school for design, and the digital skills I picked up while studying design.
What are three words you would use to best describe your work?
playfull, elegant, curious
Do you recall the first piece you made? How did it turn out?
The first piece I made, where I was focused on making a more refined piece of furniture, was a wardrobe. I was doing a lot of large format photography at the time and wanted to turn my bedroom in to a dark room, but hide the enlarger and other photo equipment. I never used it for that purpose. It ended up being an entertainment center instead. It was large, awkward and simple.
It's the weekend. What do you see yourself doing?
We are either in the mountains, on the river, or playing catch-up in the studio