Mastering the Wood Grain
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Rupich’s work is complex but carries a handmade feel, which gives his pieces a unique quality that is quite striking. “You can't achieve these uniform details and complete randomness by just running a computer program on a CNC machine,” he says. “This very precise, yet organic quality is what I like to think sets my work apart.”

Besides being shown the basics of woodworking by his father as a child, Michael Rupich is completely self taught, mostly through a process of trial and error. “It's a tough way to learn, but you never forget something once you figure it out,” he says. “I am still learning every day, though, and any time I have the chance to talk the ear off an old-timer, I will jump on it.” Photo by: Esther Nisanova.

Rupich, who first became interested in woodworking at age seven, when he had to build his own skateboard ramps, is largely self-taught. His father showed him a few basics, but otherwise it has all been a process of trial and error. “It's a tough way to learn, but you never forget something once you figure it out,” he says. “I am still learning every day, though, and any time I have the chance to talk the ear off an old-timer, I will jump on it.”

“I look at everything outside the world of woodworking and furniture making for inspiration and try to apply it to what I am making,” says Michael Rupich. However, skateboarding, surfing and the the intersection of nature and the digital space are constant influences in his work. Photo by: Esther Nisanova.

All EndGrain pieces are custom-made and one-of-a-kind, simply because it would not be possible to produce them on a large scale. Some of his pieces involve cutting apart and carefully re-assembling the wood, piece by piece, in the exact order of the original grain. This highly time-consuming technique was born of his passion and high regard for process as an integral part of the work.

The Skyline Coffee Table, here shown in ash hardwood with glass, is a graphic interpretation of New York City, a place where Michael Rupich—whose studio is currently based in Fairfield, New Jersey—has always lived in and around.

Michael Rupich says that what he listens to while in the studio depends on what he may be working on at that particular moment, but Morphine, Operation Ivy, and Arcade Fire are on constant rotation. Photo by: Esther Nisanova.

Rupich, who often works with reclaimed wood, pays close attention to the material’s inherent organic qualities and quirks. “There are plenty of challenges working with salvaged and reclaimed lumber, but the benefits far outweigh those problems,” says Michael Rupich. “The wood is so beautiful and has so much character—each board has a story to it. I love being able to take something that is so old and worn and reuse it to create something modern and contemporary, it's a beautiful blend of past and present.”

Although woodworking has been an interest for as long as Michael Rupich can remember, the first time he picked up a saw was when, at seven years old, he started building his own skateboard ramps. “Skateboarding was definitely a huge influence and motivation for me, because I needed to build ramps in order to skate them,” he says. “That continued into my early teens and gave me a great understanding of basics like making things structurally sound and the uses of tools and machinery. In my later teens, I started moving away from the carpentry aspect and began doing more refined wood working.” Photo by: Esther Nisanova.

While many EndGrain pieces allude to pixels and the digital space, nature, especially round organic shapes, is also a main source of inspiration for Michael Rupich. “We like to say that all that comes out of this shop is rocks and blocks,” he says. “It's very therapeutic for me to be able to go from one style to the other and, as different as they are in execution, they both rely on looking at wood in a different way to create unique forms. One of these techniques is represented in a very natural way, the other in a very artificial way.”

“There are plenty of challenges working with salvaged and reclaimed lumber, but the benefits far outweigh those problems,” says Michael Rupich. “The wood is so beautiful and has so much character—each board has a story to it. I love being able to take something that is so old and worn and reuse it to create something modern and contemporary, it's a beautiful blend of past and present.” Photo by: Esther Nisanova.

The power of EndGrain’s pieces lie precisely in the tension and contrast created by those seemingly opposite ideas—living in perfect, symbiotic unity.

EndGrain’s Ripple Coffee Table, shown here in cherry hardwood and glass, is a graphic representation of a the surface movement created by a ripple of water. Made up of cut squares of wood individually assembled back together, it is a good representation of the tension between natural and structure that often exists in Rupich’s work.

Part of the PIXEL series, the Ripple 2.0 Coffee Table, shown in walnut with powder coated steel pulls, takes the same inspiration of the movement created by a ripple of water and brings it to a different, slightly darker, place by using a different kind of wood and pixelating the motif further.

How long it takes Rupich to make one of his one-of-a-kind pieces depends on the scope of the project and the amount of detail involved, but can range anywhere from 6 weeks to 9 months.

Made from Ipe, this is EndGrain’s contemporary take on the Adirondack chair, an American classic. With slightly exaggerated geometric shapes and an angular feel, the design language was informed by designer Michael Rupich’s background as a graphic designer.

Before dedicating all of his time to woodworking, Michael Rupich was a graphic designer, something he says has had “a huge influence” on his work, especially these wall art installations. “I feel it gives me a different perspective on everything I build, and I like to think of my furniture as being as much a graphic statement as serving a general purpose.”

The hand carved walnut "rocks" that form the base of this Rock Pile lamp are stacked and spin independently of one another, allowing the pile to change shape. “In contrast to the pixel style of design I often incorporate into pieces, these rocks are my way of being more freeform and not so meticulous,” says Michael Rupich.

EndGrain recently finished a complete interior installation for Willow Road, a new restaurant and bar housed within what was once the historic Nabisco Factory in Manhattan's Meatpacking District.

“I have been doing a lot more and more commercial projects, and can see the business growing in that direction, says Michael Rupich. “I will always build furniture, but getting into more architectural design with my style of woodworking is something that I am beginning to explore.”

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