Fret Fur­ni­ture

Hand­crafted and cus­tom­iz­a­ble, these mod­ern fur­nish­ings have a lyri­cal beauty.

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FRET FUR­NI­TURE’S NAME COMES WITH AN IN­TER­EST­ING STORY. “A lo­cal Philadel­phia de­signer stopped by to pick up a ta­ble we had built for one of her clients,” says Brian Boland, owner/de­signer be­hind the Philadel­phia, Penn­syl­va­nia com­pany that started in 2016.

“As we were show­ing her the Mon­tana din­ing ta­ble, she qui­etly men­tioned that the brass in­lay re­minded her of frets and marker dots on stringed in­stru­ments. As a gui­tarist all my life, the word ‘fret’ res­onated with me.”

Even though Fret Fur­ni­ture is the re­al­iza­tion of Brian’s de­sire to have his own line of fur­ni­ture, this is far from his first foray into fur­ni­ture mak­ing. “For the past 25 years, I have been build­ing for ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers, cre­at­ing and build­ing many styles of fur­ni­ture,” he says.


With a back­ground as a gui­tarist, Brian’s life was for­ever changed when “one day I dis­cov­ered au­then­tic pe­riod fur­ni­ture through some fam­ily mem­bers,” he says. Once he saw the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, he was hooked.

“I sought out an ap­pren­tice­ship and was lucky to find a Welsh wood­worker, Robert Allen Fell­wock. I spent many years learn­ing and build­ing pe­riod re­pro­duc­tion work for projects that in­cluded The Win­terthur Mu­seum, In­de­pen­dence Hall, and Colo­nial Wil­liams­burg,” Brian says. Through­out this time, Brian at­tended Philadel­phia Col­lege of Arts at night and took de­sign classes at Drexel Univer­sity.


To Brian, what makes Fret Fur­ni­ture unique is three­fold: Their fur­nish­ings can be en­tirely cus­tom­ized, each piece is built one at a time, and the com­pany uses over 90% solid wood.

“We start with raw, un-milled lum­ber and then build ev­ery­thing in-house. Hard­ware aside, none of our com­po­nents are out­sourced, which is un­usual in today’s mar­ket,” Brian says. “We sup­port lo­cal sup­pli­ers and are truly proud of the way we do busi­ness.”


Ac­cord­ing to Brian, the most im­por­tant les­son he has learned is to build and main­tain re­la­tion­ships—he has cus­tomers who have been re­turn­ing for 20 years. “A close sec­ond is the im­por­tance of find­ing mo­ti­vated, tal­ented crafts­peo­ple to work in our shop.”

Brian keeps his cre­ativ­ity flow­ing by avoid­ing the in­ter­net, where he thinks there is too much noise, and in­stead lets mu­se­ums and na­ture in­spire his sketches. “Once I am re­laxed, let­ting na­ture take over, the ideas start to bub­ble up,” he says. Fret Fur­ni­ture’s process in­cludes sketches, mod­els, and the pro­duc­tion of in­di­vid­ual el­e­ments—all be­fore a full-scale pro­to­type is made.

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