Furniture from Top Model Brian Shimansky

His face might be more familiar, but customers recognize the quality in his wood and aluminium furniture designs.
6 March, 2017
His face might be more familiar, but customers recognize the quality in his wood and aluminium furniture designs.
Despite his numerous magazine profiles and his other fashion and entertainment industry pursuits, what Shimansky truly loves is making hand-crafted furniture that mixes wood and metals.

Long before he became a model and walked the runways in Milan, Shimansky took a woodworking class at James Caldwell High School in his hometown of West Caldwell, New Jersey in the United States. He built on those skills and updated them to launch his own furniture line, which is designed around the balance and energy principles of Feng Shui. At the same time he seeks to reclaim materials, and recycle and repurpose the woods and metals that he uses to build.
Consider the "V Mag", an exceptional piece commissioned by and designed to honor the fashion and culture magazine. The coffee table, handcrafted and finished in a glossy black walnut, is set off by aluminium legs to support it. Meanwhile, the Timon, in the shape of a solid triangle in sycamore with an aluminium base, might serve as a stool or an accent table.

"I love building stuff so when an idea pops into my head, I go for it," said Shimansky, who said it's the beauty of wood and the journey of roughcut lumber that attracts him.

That first application of oil to a carefully chosen wood – for a commissioned work, or one he has dreamed of himself – is a deeply sensory and satisfying experience from his perspective.

Members at his boat club were tearing up an old dock when he decided to build patio tables and benches from the old wood. He bartered with the boat club to use the beach as his workshop, and his projects took off from there.
The 30-year-old Shimansky says he is inspired by John Lautner, Jean-Michel Gathy, and George Nakashima in his designs. Yet he didn't necessarily set out to make furniture – or even to be a model.

He was supposed to put his finance and economics degree to use in Manhattan, where he already had a job lined up after his 2008 college graduation. He told his friends he had to use the bathroom before heading into a John Mayer concert in New Jersey, and on his way back a talent scout pulled him aside.
It's a moment that changed his life, and although he plans for the day his modeling will slow down and he can focus on furniture, right now he continues to pursue both. Shimansky works in the shop about three or four days a week, he said, and he anticipates creating boutique pieces for retail in the future. For the moment, though, he keeps his furniture business small, selective, intimate and centered around the artistic.

That leaves plenty of time for the Murray, a low two-tiered table in ambrosia maple and steel that looks almost tiger-striped in its woodgrain. Or for the Vivian, a maple and aluminium table on castors that boost its utility as well as its beauty, and the Hollow, a coffee table made of paulownia wood, with tubular aluminium legs that arc in semicircles beneath the surface.
For Shimansky, whose modeling life is based on the immediate creation of image and impression, it's the permanence of the wood and metals that he loves – and hopes to continue building a future on.
Banner image: V Man