Doing It with Sarah Reiss

In HOWDO, it’s all about finding space to create and collaborate.

Through intentional design, you have breakout areas to lounge and build on ideas; you have a conference room, a kitchen and a pool table for a little play. What was missing, though, was a more casual spot to sit for a coffee and a snack, one that didn’t seat 24, but instead six. In comes a simple table. 8’ x 4’ of beautifully designed and handcrafted reclaimed wood perfectly fitted to a custom steel base. It’s just what HOWDO needed, and for that, Sarah Reiss is to thank.

Sarah is a self-taught furniture designer, maker and artist, who took a hobby for friends and turned it into what R&R Design Works is today. Getting her start with bigger projects for Cane Rosso (yes, go see the tables at their newest location at The Star!), Lululemon and freelance work for other local Dallas businesses, including HOWDO.

So how did she do it? Well, a process that typically takes 4-6 weeks, HOWDO’s was stretched out a little, with other projects popping up and taking over the small studio Sarah has crafted behind her own home in North Dallas. But that didn’t stop her; flexibility is part of the job.

So, how does she do?

Step 1 | Sketch

Simple sketching is first. An important part of the process, Sarah works closely with her clients to understand where the final piece will live, whether that’s a family home, a new restaurant or an inspired meeting space.

Although her materials – reclaimed wood, stains and paints, and steel – are a common thread, each piece is individually designed and influenced by the space, whether that’s more rustic or more contemporary and modern.

Step 2 | Scour

Reclaimed wood is Sarah’s medium of choice. She scours Texas farms and warehouses for old pallets, old barns and homes for new pieces; anywhere she can get her hands on good quality, unique wood, she’ll be there.

She also has a good network throughout the state that helps her out so it’s a group effort. Then, with leftovers and save-for-later wood, it’s stocked in her studio, in her garage, anywhere a new find might fit. Saved for a future piece.

Step 3 | Fit it all together

Now, the big, and very meticulous, stuff starts. Sarah moves onto cutting and sizes each piece of wood. Some might be cut in half, sanded down to the same, consistent size, and then a pattern starts to form.

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Sarah lays out a rough pattern to play with, almost like a jigsaw puzzle – a giant 8’ x 4’ one in this case – and for her, it’s very kinesthetic. This part can take Sarah up a week to play with fitting pieces and sizing the right measurements because that’s how exact each piece of wood has to be to lay just right.

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It’s during this time the color and stains come into play. For HOWDO, Sarah played with different orange and red stains to bring a little bit of the vibe into the table. Then she added in some teals and greens to balance out the already white pieces.

 

Not only does Sarah handle cutting and fitting reclaimed wood, but she’s a welder too. Yep, that badass.

 

In her studio, Sarah works with steel to weld custom table frames and bases for her pieces. That included HOWDO’s. Check out her process

 

Step 5 | Epoxy, epoxy, epoxy

In the final stage of making a custom table, it’s applying epoxy, a strong, sturdy coating applied on top of the table to create a clean finish.

It’s a very time-consuming and careful part of the process. Before the first coat goes down, Sarah vacuums the entire studio, from top to bottom (including the ceiling!) because any bit of dust is noticeable in the final product.

From vacuuming and the first coat to the final third coat, it’s about a week. Another week of anticipation.

Step 6 | See happy faces!

By this time, the countdown is on. Delivery is not only a client’s favorite part, but it’s Sarah’s too. Seeing the satisfaction is what pushes her to keep going, project after project.

 

Staying inspired as a doer isn’t always easy, but Sarah has her process down. She knows how to do it, and she does what she loves. Her quirks and system have taken R&R Design Works to some of Dallas’ most iconic locations, and now HOWDO. Her dedication and passion for craft and creativity fits right into what the space stands for.

Now, grab your coffee with your team, take a seat at a stool, and let the orange, teals and natural wood design inspire your next big idea at HOWDO.

 
erik herskind