Dan and Alex Cordell, of Minneapolis-based Solid Manufacturing Co., believe in the power of goods built with the intention to tell a story. To them, their story is that of goods made affordably, ethically, and purposefully in America. Their goal is to bring manufacturing back to the small business owner and hopefully prove the merit of doing so to their customers. They believe in the power of hand-crafted products bridging the otherwise pervasive gap between the maker and their community. They aim to “always give an authentic, honest experience, to provide quality goods that will continue to improve with time.” The thought and personal care given to each of their products is obvious in their process and the quality of their finished product. Dan and Alex feel deeply connected to their community in Minneapolis, and hope to inspire the shift back to local design and production. We got a chance to chat with both of them about their lives inside and outside of work, and what inspires them to create. Read more and see their studio space below!
Photography by Jenny Li.
Please tell us a little about yourselves and your work.
In 2012, we founded Solid Manufacturing Co, a home and leather-goods company with one unifying theme: handcrafted products that are made to last. Our collection includes a range of small leather goods, home accessories, and our signature dipped stools, all designed and manufactured in our Minneapolis studio.
What is your background in home goods? How did you get involved in the industry?
Dan and I have been working in the wood shop together since 2010. Long before Solid, our marriage and our newest addition, our four-month-old daughter, Elliott, we spent the majority of our time designing and building together. I received my bachelor’s degree in furniture design at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. During my academic career, Dan and I met and began building together. Dan is a tinkerer at heart and grew up building in his dad’s wood shop just south of Minneapolis.
Where do you seek inspiration for your designs?
Our work is inspired by classic, modern design. We tend to steer clear of trends as they come and go so quickly. At our core, we are inspired by functionality, minimalism, and design for small spaces. We hope to always give our customers an authentic, honest experience with quality handmade products that will continue to improve with time.
Tell us about your studio space.
Our studio space is a small wood shop near a rail yard in Northeast Minneapolis. It is where all of our manufacturing is done. Minneapolis is filled with great old buildings repurposed to be artist studios and we’re lucky to be located in one of them.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
One of the most exciting and challenging elements of what we do is planning our days. It’s a delicate dance, as every week we are working on something new. We welcomed our first baby last fall, so our day starts early with lots of coffee and time spent with our daughter, Elliott. We spend our morning going over the tasks that go into the day. A detailed plan is the only way we’re able to get everything done. We run all the errands and make our way to the shop by mid-morning. We spend the day tackling projects, whether it be furniture, home or leather goods.
What, in your experience, have been the biggest challenges in starting and sustaining your own business?
The biggest challenge has been doing it all. Being a small business owner means the work doesn’t stop just because the work day is over.
What is your current favorite product you are selling and why?
Our Found Ladder launched in our SS17 collection and is a favorite. Our furniture and home goods are inspired by small space living, multi-use, and practical functionality. Our Found Ladder has accomplished all of those things while maintaining a minimal and modern profile. It is perfect for any space, whether it be for towels in the bathroom, magazines or newspapers in the living room or blankets in the bedroom. Its simplicity and stripped down purity of purpose make for beautiful, vertical storage.
What is it like being a maker in America right now?
Being a maker in America today is incredibly exciting. We are inspired by the makers in our community and those nationwide who are taking risks, throwing caution to the wind and pursuing their dreams.
What do you love most about your community in Minneapolis?
In Minneapolis, we work together. We believe in the power of community and we support each other. Maybe it’s our long winters that inspire a society of makers, inventors, designers and status-quo challengers, but being a part of a community that works to lift each other up is quite a gift.
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