Photo by Stephen Wahl
The concept of something being "generational" is very important to Curtis Micklish. The owner of the namesake design and wood home-wares studio says he was taught to create things that would stand the test of time both stylistically and in durability.
"It all started with my dad who was a carpenter," says Micklish, a lifetime local who lives and works in Mount Helix. "I feel like a lot of the people who get into this kind of work, it's something that's often passed down."
Micklish used to own a building contracting company, but says he began to feel burned out on the industry. His passion had always been in modern design, so he started constructing pieces to furnish his house. He ended up quitting his day job in 2011 to pursue it full-time. He struggled for more than a year, but the advent of handmade e-commerce website Etsy helped get him gain that marketable edge. It was around this time that he was creating organizational pieces like "The Butler," a walnut and birch piece designed to hang on the wall that includes a sliding slot meant to hold a person's glasses or phone. Along with other functional pieces like the "Armadilla," Micklish says he was able to "make it more of business than a hobby," and after getting a lot of blogger love, publications like Dwell, Wired and GQ were featuring his products.
"You put so much time into these things and most of the time nothing happens, but it just clicked with 'The Butler,'" says Micklish, who went from making five to 50 a week.
Micklish now wants to take things a step further with Forge Development, an urban infill development company he and two friends started that he says will focus on "creating unique residential and mixed-use spaces in San Diego." He's also been working with companies as varied as Suja Juice and clothing brand Stüssy. Still, he says he hasn't lost sight of his original vision.
"Whatever I design, I want it to be the most efficient from the beginning and something that I know will be around in 20 years," Micklish says. "I don't build stuff that's only going to look good for a couple years. That's something my dad taught me: whether it's a house or a piece of furniture, you know it'll be something that someone else will own eventually and it will still look good."