Handmade Wood Products Made from Reclaimed French (White Oak) Wine Barrels
Guest Post by Camilla Pistilli of Stil Novo Design
Our Company is called Stil Novo Design; we are a family business focused on the creation of eco-friendly home décor, ‘green’ gift ideas, custom made furniture and original specialty pieces. All of our products are made with reclaimed white oak that we recycle from French wine barrels. It’s a material that hasn’t stopped impressing us for its beauty, charm and distinctiveness.
Our beginning was quite fortuitous; while visiting a local winery in the north of California, we noticed a bunch of unused barrels, piled up in a corner and ready to be discarded. We asked a few questions and learned about the chemical properties of oak itself and how it plays a significant role in winemaking, affecting the color, flavor, and texture of the wine.
Over time many of the oak properties get “leached” out of the barrel and after 3 to 5 vintages the barrel is ready to be discarded.
My husband is an experienced and passionate woodworker, so he could immediately recognize and appreciate the quality of the selected oak the French barrels are made of, and felt that we could turn that unfortunate waste into a ‘green’ idea.
The more we worked with this wood, the more we could notice and appreciate the uniqueness of each barrel, the different grain, quality and character that every stave presents; for us every dent, discoloration and mark is a very valued and honored sign of age that we have a lot of respect for.
It makes us quite happy that we are able to give this wonderful material a new life in our customers’ hands.
Every piece we make is the direct product of a ‘family effort’, from the conceptualization of the idea to its realization; we all have to ‘endorse’ it or it doesn’t make it to the catalog and we all take pride in putting our name on it.
Even our 10 years old twin girls often participate in the whole process, giving suggestions or sharing their personal preferences.
My beloved husband of 18 years is an accomplished woodworker/furniture maker; he possesses endless creativity, amazing abilities and meticulous skills that allow him to take on tricky challenges and to turn them into achievements.
I take care of orders, customer service, packaging and shipping. I hand paint our decorated items, which I enjoy doing a lot and create all of the listings. I also do the necessary ‘foot-work’, networking and marketing, in order to get Stil Novo Design noticed and appreciated. Last, but certainly not least, I am the one who does all the ‘nagging’ about every little detail, deadline and such, a very essential role in any family business!!!!
Being a family business, our first and true source of motivation for us is to be and to work with each other, appreciating the commitment, the care and effort invested by each of us and sharing the joy of every achievement; I think that it’s somehow reflected in the harmony and warmth that all of our pieces seem to convey.
The recycled material that we use also offers endless inspiration; the natural arch of the wine barrel staves ‘spurs’ us to play with shapes and designs in a very imaginative way, while the singular grain of the French white oak bestows a quite unique quality on every piece we make. We believe that there is a lot left to explore, learn and discover.
Our business has become for us another way to exchange our views, taste and choices with each other and to spend time together, sharing every moment of the creative process; We have a lot of fun doing it and we consider ourselves lucky to be able to make it into such a special family experience.
When either of us comes up with an idea, having an architectural background, my husband easily sketches it on paper, we discuss it further and define the details; after that he makes a prototype and we decide if the design needs more options or adjustments, and if it gets ‘promoted’ it’s added to our inventory.
Also, often our customers offer suggestions or request a custom piece that gives us the opportunity to explore our creative potential even further.
When the high season puts us under pressure we are often forced to involve some of our friends (and our girls!!) in any possible way: making labels, polishing the pieces, wrapping, boxing etc… and our home turns into a busy ‘beehive’. It’s a lot of work, very challenging and unpredictable, but we still find it exceptionally rewarding and stimulating.
Our inventory is available at our fabulous Etsy store at http://www.stilnovodesign.etsy.com
(We have opened other on-line stores, but I have to admit that Etsy’s is the one I love the most!)
We’d love to expand our ‘FaceBook family’, to join our fan page visit http://www.facebook.com/StilNovoDesign
The door prize today is: a Handmade Greeting card from. You will have until October 26th to comment on this post to enter to win the Door Prize!
Look out for a feature on Stil Novo Design next week, where you will have a chance to take a look at some of their products!