Photos by Hillary Ehlen
David Collins is the one-man-show behind Fargo Furniture Co., successfully turning his hobby into a well-received company. At Fargo Furniture Co., he creates quality custom furniture for businesses and homes. Pieces he creates vary from kitchen tables to cash wraps to bed sets to bathroom vanities and beyond. He has mastered the utilitarian art of creating pieces of furniture that are as useful as they are stylish, proving that art is more than just a piece that can hang on your wall.
When he’s not working his day job at ShareHouse Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Center or hanging out with his two children, Collins is in the garage. When you step into his three-car garage-turned-studio, you would not guess that the impressive set-up was born out of a small home-decor project in 2015. But sure enough, a car has not seen the inside of the garage in some time, as slabs of wood, cans of stains, bottles of epoxy and sawhorse tables fill the space.
In 2015, Collins had some ideas for wooden wall art that he wanted to make for his home. Upon executing those pieces, the urge to create pieces with wood continued. “I really liked doing that, so I started building bigger stuff and different things and then finally got into big tables and all that,” said Collins. What began as an itch to create turned into a business with a clientele and he began operating under the name DC3 Design Concepts. However, he soon renamed to Fargo Furniture Co., for clarity.
Pieces Collins creates vary from glossy and resin-topped to rustic and raw. “I enjoy slab wood, sanding it down and seeing all the grain that comes out of it and then putting resin on top of it, which really makes it shine,” he said. He noted that many customers are enjoying his river tables lately, where he uses colored resin to create winding rivers within the wood’s curves. “I think black [resin] has been the biggest seller. People love it, the black river really contrasts,” he added.
Quality work is of utmost importance to Collins. He works side by side with his clients each step of the process, creating a personal experience and ensuring they are satisfied. He finds that his clients are seeking out that “wow” piece, saying, “It’s pretty specific stuff that they can’t just find walking in a big furniture store.”
When customers contact Collins, they usually have an idea of what they want the final product to be. Together, they pick out what type of wood they want, which specific slab they will use, what base material and what finish. Every detail gets discussed, making almost a collaborative process between customer and maker.
Because of this attention to detail and quality, Collins uses only solid wood and metal or steel in his projects. This means no cheap particle board or plywood, ensuring the useable pieces of art will withstand the tests of time. He also primarily uses locally sourced materials and deploys local welders for the metalwork. Certain types and sizes of wood he imports in, but if he can find a material locally, that is what he will use.
When asked about what pieces of his have been his favorite to create, Collins said, “One of the last tables I built…I usually say that for every table I’ve built—now this is my favorite.” He one-ups his previous projects, finding a new “favorite” in each piece he completes. If he had to choose though, he said that he enjoys large-scale pieces, like kitchen tables or conference tables made from big slabs. These types of pieces allow the work to be the statement of the room, making guests really take notice.
Fargo Furniture Co. does more than just create incredible furniture pieces, they give back too. Throughout the year, Collins donates pieces to a variety of silent auctions and agencies like 4 Luv of Dog Rescue, The Boy Scouts and hospitals. Collins produces a lot of commissioned pieces for clients, so when he creates a piece on his own, donating the piece is a great way for him to practice his skills while also giving back. Plus, this ensures his house doesn’t become too overflown with furniture (his home already has as many wood-topped pieces one space can allow room for). In addition to the furniture donations, 10% of his profits go to addiction treatment agencies in the community.
Collins’ passion for the craft and ability to turn a hobby into a business goes to show that many of us may have an inner artist that we have yet to uncover. With pieces like his, the barriers between art and function are diminished. Because why shouldn’t our utilitarian pieces be beautiful too?
Fargo Furniture Co