It’s safe to say that appreciation for craftsmanship and quality is making a swift & considerable comeback around the country. Artisans & Carpenters are taking us back to a simpler time when things were conceptualized, drafted, sourced, produced and finished by hand. Kyle Huntoon, of Hunt + Noyer, is doing precisely that.
After cutting loose from a career in engineering, Kyle decided to follow in his family’s footsteps. Hailing from a long line of woodworkers, four generations of them to be exact, he wanted to stay true to tradition while also bringing his personal affinity for Mid-Century Modern style to his work. He founded the company in 2013 and moved back to Detroit, Michigan shortly thereafter. Using his experience in engineering, he crafts furniture that’s built to last, both in function and timeless design. In his own words, “with respect and admiration, I look back to go forth; combining knowledge gained from the generations of designers who’ve come before me to create the highest quality furniture with beauty and utility at the forefront”. Read on below to find out more about what inspires and challenges him and what it’s like to be a maker in Detroit today.
Photography by Jesse David Green.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your work.
Leaving behind a career in engineering, I decided to follow in my family’s footsteps in the world of woodworking. In 2013, I founded Hunt & Noyer officially, creating and selling expertly-crafted wooden housewares and gifts. The company has since grown to include my own line of mid-century-inspired furniture. Since then I have brought my handcrafted, time-tested designs to Detroit— a place I am proud to call home.
You left your job as a civil engineer to move back to Michigan and found Hunt + Noyer almost five years ago. What have been the most surprising challenges and rewards in doing so?
The surprises come daily as a small business owner! Life is much more exciting with challenges that range the full spectrum of business ownership. I truly enjoy building relationships with employees, clients, and suppliers as I continue to grow my business. The network you create can be supportive in so many necessary ways in achieving your goals, and ultimately becoming a success story.
How does the furniture and woodworking industry now compare to previous generations in your family?
The furniture making industry now is quite competitive globally. In the past, the business came in strictly locally, but now especially through the west elm partnership, I am able to expose new clients to my work that live all over the country and beyond!
Where do you seek inspiration?
I am inspired, like many makers, by masters of the past. I was driven to design furniture after falling in love with great designs in both furniture and architecture. I enjoy riding my bike around the city of Detroit and scoping out small architectural details, and touring beautiful art deco spaces like the lobbies of the Guardian and Fisher buildings.
Tell us about your studio space.
I share my studio with other talented makers— a jewelry designer, sculptural welder, and guitar pedal designer. We have about 4,000 square feet in downtown Detroit just off Grand River Avenue. It’s great being in a space with a lot of creative energy, and awesome that we can just pop downtown for lunch or to clear our minds.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I start my day with a huge pot of coffee. I usually try to knock the growing to-do list of email replies before leaving the house, and get to my studio at 9am. Most days in the studio are a blend of client meetings, design discussions, and production work. I like to spend the evenings and Sundays getting creative and trying new ideas.
What is it like being a maker in America right now?
Being a maker in America right now is a very rewarding experience. People recognize and congratulate your drive to go against the grain and forge your own path. It’s that positive energy that keeps me going every day, carrying me through the hard times when my creativity and motivation may be waning.
What do you love most about Detroit?
The community of makers in Detroit is incredible. Since moving to Detroit in early 2013, my network has grown exponentially and with it I have gained many very good friends that I am so grateful to have met. Thank you Detroit!
Top 5 places you need to visit in Detroit?
1. The furniture collection on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts
2. Belle Isle Park Aquarium & Conservatory
3. The Fisher Building— tour by Pure Detroit
4. The Guardian Building — tour by Pure Detroit
5. Kayak Tour of the Canal Neighborhood by Detroit River Sports