The Custom Furniture Business: Creating Beautiful and Timeless Designs
Small businesses are the soul of America

More people are interested in buying locally made products than ever before. You can capitalize on many consumers’ return to local shopping by emphasizing that all components of your furniture are made in the United States, or in your town or area. The same applies to handmade goods. Individuals who are tired of mass-produced goods are often the same people who are interested in buying locally. Given this climate, it is a good time to start a handmade furniture business.

In Puerto Escondido, Brutalism and thatched roofs with a side of sand and surf

A view of Playa Punta Zicatela and its lighthouse, at left.

Love design? Skip Tulum

Puerto Escondido, a beach town in the southwestern Mexican state of Oaxaca, has long been a well-kept secret of the world’s surfing community. Most travel guides focus on the area’s immense waves and the laid-back vibes on offer in local bars and restaurants under thatch-roofed palapas.

Lately, though, it seems the secret is out: Puerto (as it’s known to locals) is welcoming a wider variety of tourists, among them design enthusiasts eager to explore the region’s burgeoning art and architecture scenes.

About a half-hour taxi ride out of town, renowned architect Alberto Kalach—the designer behind some of Mexico City’s most notable buildings, including Biblioteca Vasconcelos and the Kurimanzutto Gallery—recently finished building eight eco-villas in an ocean-front site flanked by a large, rocky cliff.

Though today the villas appear to have sprouted from the ground along with the greenery that envelops them (from afar, one can only make out their pitched wooden rooftops), not long ago the site was completely barren, stripped by aggressive agricultural practices.

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A post shared by Luis Urrutia...


A view of Playa Punta Zicatela and its lighthouse, at left.

Love design? Skip Tulum

Puerto Escondido, a beach town in the southwestern Mexican state of Oaxaca, has long been a well-kept secret of the world’s surfing community. Most travel guides focus on the area’s immense waves and the laid-back vibes on offer in local bars and restaurants under thatch-roofed palapas.

Lately, though, it seems the secret is out: Puerto (as it’s known to locals) is welcoming a wider variety of tourists, among them design enthusiasts eager to explore the region’s burgeoning art and architecture scenes.

About a half-hour taxi ride out of town, renowned architect Alberto Kalach—the designer behind some of Mexico City’s most notable buildings, including Biblioteca Vasconcelos and the Kurimanzutto Gallery—recently finished building eight eco-villas in an ocean-front site flanked by a large, rocky cliff.

Though today the villas appear to have sprouted from the ground along with the greenery that envelops them (from afar, one can only make out their pitched wooden rooftops), not long ago the site was completely barren, stripped by aggressive agricultural practices.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Luis Urrutia (@luisurrutia) on

Since 2012, Kalach has focused on reforesting the area, partnering with Luis Urrutia—an engineer who specializes in regenerative projects—to study the region’s endemic flora and bring life back to the site, which is now known as Punta Pájaros.

The design team’s holistic approach recalls the work of the late Mexican architect and amateur botanist Luis Barragán, who once declared “I don’t divide architecture, landscape, and gardening; to me they are one.” Once Punta Pájaros’s landscaping had taken form, Kalach designed the series of villas, each unique and independent from one another, with fully furnished kitchens, dining areas, living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, and with an ample terrace and small private pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Alberto Kalach isn’t the only architect who has worked in the region: A short walk away from Punta Pájaros, you’ll find a pristine slab of concrete punctured by two pools—one long and rectangular, the other a shallow triangle—leading to an immaculate concrete structure topped with an intricately constructed thatched palapa roof. This is Casa Wabi, an art foundation established in 2014 by Mexican contemporary artist Bosco Sodi, and designed by renowned Japanese architect and poet of light and concrete, Tadao Ando.

Tadao Ando gifted two spotted dogs to Bosco Sodi after construction wrapped.
 Asad Syrkett
Inside Casa Wabi.

Taking its name from the traditional Japanese concept of wabi-sabi—an approach to aesthetics that centers on the beauty found in transience and imperfection—Sodi’s non-profit foundation aims to promote social engagement through art, providing workshops, round tables, and exhibitions.

Because Casa Wabi prioritizes work between the communities and artists-in-residence , visitors to the space are only welcome on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 4 p.m., or Saturday mornings at 10 a.m.

 Asad Syrkett
A view to Casa Wabi’s pools and the ocean beyond. The foundation is open for one-hour tours on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and Saturday mornings.

Each tour lasts about an hour—and is worth every minute. Casa Wabi’s elegant building presents a marriage of contemporary culture and local traditions: at eye level, the sleek concrete structure rises in a scruffy landscape of cacti and shrubbery; above, a thatched roof carefully built by Oaxacan craftspeople. If you make your way there, say hello to Bonita and Chula, two black-spotted dogs that were gifts to the foundation from Tadao Ando himself.

Back in town, you’ll find that Puerto is divided into two main areas: the bustling Zicatela, where the ocean offers waves only a surfer could love, but where bars and restaurants abound (a tip for the nosy: Alberto Kalach recently finished his private residence in Zicatela, which is mostly visible from street level, so keep an eye out), and La Punta, a more laid-back area perfect for swimming and lounging. To swim in warm, crystalline waters, head over to Puerto Angelito and Carrizalillo, two coves where the waves are nearly nonexistent.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Alberto Kalach_TAX (@kalach_tax) on

Perhaps the most astonishing natural encounter available is the rare phenomenon called bioluminescence, caused by phosphorescent plankton that light up the waters at night, and can be observed at the nearby Manialtepec Lagoon.

If, during your trip, you find yourself in desperate need of a reliable Wi-Fi connection, head over to the cozy co-working space Selina, but be sure to also give yourself enough time to unplug! Puerto Escondido is quickly being developed into Mexico’s next “it” destination, and has proven to be much more than just a surfer’s paradise.

A view of Playa Punta Zicatela and its lighthouse, at left.

Love design? Skip Tulum

Puerto Escondido, a beach town in the southwestern Mexican state of Oaxaca, has long been a well-kept secret of the world’s surfing community. Most travel guides focus on the area’s immense waves and the laid-back vibes on offer in local bars and restaurants under thatch-roofed palapas.

Lately, though, it seems the secret is out: Puerto (as it’s known to locals) is welcoming a wider variety of tourists, among them design enthusiasts eager to explore the region’s burgeoning art and architecture scenes.

About a half-hour taxi ride out of town, renowned architect Alberto Kalach—the designer behind some of Mexico City’s most notable buildings, including Biblioteca Vasconcelos and the Kurimanzutto Gallery—recently finished building eight eco-villas in an ocean-front site flanked by a large, rocky cliff.

Though today the villas appear to have sprouted from the ground along with the greenery that envelops them (from afar, one can only make out their pitched wooden rooftops), not long ago the site was completely barren, stripped by aggressive agricultural practices.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Luis Urrutia (@luisurrutia) on

Since 2012, Kalach has focused on reforesting the area, partnering with Luis Urrutia—an engineer who specializes in regenerative projects—to study the region’s endemic flora and bring life back to the site, which is now known as Punta Pájaros.

The design team’s holistic approach recalls the work of the late Mexican architect and amateur botanist Luis Barragán, who once declared “I don’t divide architecture, landscape, and gardening; to me they are one.” Once Punta Pájaros’s landscaping had taken form, Kalach designed the series of villas, each unique and independent from one another, with fully furnished kitchens, dining areas, living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, and with an ample terrace and small private pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Alberto Kalach isn’t the only architect who has worked in the region: A short walk away from Punta Pájaros, you’ll find a pristine slab of concrete punctured by two pools—one long and rectangular, the other a shallow triangle—leading to an immaculate concrete structure topped with an intricately constructed thatched palapa roof. This is Casa Wabi, an art foundation established in 2014 by Mexican contemporary artist Bosco Sodi, and designed by renowned Japanese architect and poet of light and concrete, Tadao Ando.

Tadao Ando gifted two spotted dogs to Bosco Sodi after construction wrapped.
 Asad Syrkett
Inside Casa Wabi.

Taking its name from the traditional Japanese concept of wabi-sabi—an approach to aesthetics that centers on the beauty found in transience and imperfection—Sodi’s non-profit foundation aims to promote social engagement through art, providing workshops, round tables, and exhibitions.

Because Casa Wabi prioritizes work between the communities and artists-in-residence , visitors to the space are only welcome on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 4 p.m., or Saturday mornings at 10 a.m.

 Asad Syrkett
A view to Casa Wabi’s pools and the ocean beyond. The foundation is open for one-hour tours on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and Saturday mornings.

Each tour lasts about an hour—and is worth every minute. Casa Wabi’s elegant building presents a marriage of contemporary culture and local traditions: at eye level, the sleek concrete structure rises in a scruffy landscape of cacti and shrubbery; above, a thatched roof carefully built by Oaxacan craftspeople. If you make your way there, say hello to Bonita and Chula, two black-spotted dogs that were gifts to the foundation from Tadao Ando himself.

Back in town, you’ll find that Puerto is divided into two main areas: the bustling Zicatela, where the ocean offers waves only a surfer could love, but where bars and restaurants abound (a tip for the nosy: Alberto Kalach recently finished his private residence in Zicatela, which is mostly visible from street level, so keep an eye out), and La Punta, a more laid-back area perfect for swimming and lounging. To swim in warm, crystalline waters, head over to Puerto Angelito and Carrizalillo, two coves where the waves are nearly nonexistent.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Alberto Kalach_TAX (@kalach_tax) on

Perhaps the most astonishing natural encounter available is the rare phenomenon called bioluminescence, caused by phosphorescent plankton that light up the waters at night, and can be observed at the nearby Manialtepec Lagoon.

If, during your trip, you find yourself in desperate need of a reliable Wi-Fi connection, head over to the cozy co-working space Selina, but be sure to also give yourself enough time to unplug! Puerto Escondido is quickly being developed into Mexico’s next “it” destination, and has proven to be much more than just a surfer’s paradise.


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Give your business a name. Name your business something that indicates what you sell. This will come in handy later on, when you are marketing your business and want people to associate your business name with handmade furniture.
File a DBA, which stands for “doing business as,” at your local county clerk’s office. You may want to do a search to ensure that no other business in your town is operating under the same name. If you live in a large metropolitan area, a search is a necessity.
Create a line of furniture. You’ll need to have models of each piece of furniture that you intend to sell, so that customers can easily visualize what you have to offer. Add to your furniture line each year so that your stock stays fresh and on-trend.