Chris Earl for Parachute: Behind the Design
Sean Robertson for Parachute
When we considered introducing furniture to our assortment, we immediately thought to collaborate with Chris Earl. His craftsmanship, attention to detail and sustainable practices align with our brand ethos. We put our full trust in Chris, and he went above and beyond to deliver a beautiful, timeless bed frame and custom side tables. Take a video tour of Chris’s Los Angeles studio and watch how the handmade wood bed frame came to be.
We heard you previously worked as a chef! How did your career evolve from cooking to furniture design?
I was studying studio art and started cooking on the side to pay the bills. I loved my time in the kitchen and continued cooking when I finished school. I moved to Chicago and began an apprenticeship with a head chef to hone my culinary skills. After moving back to California, I worked as a personal chef for a family in Newport Beach and began my next side project…furniture design! Within a few years, small commissioned tables and chairs grew into building furniture full time.
What interested you in designing and crafting pieces for the home, specifically?
My foray into furniture design was making dining tables. Of course, I always enjoyed cooking and value mealtime – there’s something very special about people gathering together at a table. So I started making dining tables first. To make dinner – and then set it on a table that you also made – for your friends and family to enjoy is beyond rewarding. And it got me hooked on designing more!
Describe your creative process. How/When does inspiration strike? How do you translate this vision or inspiration?
I tend to be pretty intuitive in how I design. I don’t designate set times where I sit down to sketch. Generally, I’ll be working on other pieces when an idea strikes, and I mull it over for a week or two before it starts to take shape. Once I have a strong sense of direction, I’ll sit down and make a pretty accurate sketch – a pencil drawing – of what I want to build. From there I’ll go into the shop and start mocking things up, building the physical piece and tweak it as I go. I’ll figure out, “For this joint, I need to change the position,” or “For that angle, this needs to be steeper.” At the end, I’ve got a working prototype.
What’s the vibe in your own home? With all of the pieces you’ve created, how do you decide which ones are right for your living space?
This home originally belonged to my grandparents – they bought the house in the 1940s. When we moved in, it needed a lot of renovations. We changed quite a bit, but tried to retain as much of the existing character as possible.
My aesthetic is completely minimal and clean. I love plants, but if it were up to me the house would be super sparse. My wife, Amber, is on the other end of the design spectrum. She brings in color and elements of warmth, which is so necessary! You want to come into a home where you feel welcomed, not one that feels sterile.
How did growing up in Papua New Guinea influence your design aesthetic?
Growing up in Papua New Guinea taught me that if you want something you need to build it yourself. It gave me a natural sense of resourcefulness and the ability to think outside the box in terms of repurposing and making things a little different. This mentality continues to play a role in my design process.