Saturday, July 2

borough furnace

Borough Furnace is John Truex and Jason Connelly, 2 cousins from Tennessee who are in "pursuit of sustainable, small scale, American manufacturing." They are designing and making cast iron cookware (from 100% upcycled scrap iron, if that is important to you) in their backyard cupula furnace -dubbed Skilletron. Classic.

There is a little chutney fantasy about it sure... but there is also a primal element to the whole thing, and their designs are simply great looking. So far they have a skillet w/ hollow handle, a braising dish, a trivet and a brutally beautiful bottle opener. I hope the prices are not too far out of reach...

The guys utilised not a little web savvy, and the power of Kickstarter, and have reached their fundraising goal with a few days left. They will be setting up a facility in upstate New York (cue Skilletron 2), but you can still jump in on the first round of fundraising and secure yourself a pan, or one of the openers. Cheers.

Update 7/5/11. Heard back from John Truex via email and got a bit more of the backstory and his thoughts on the future.
10engines: Why did you decide to do this?
John Truex: Jason and I started talking about our company a couple of years ago. Jason was in the retail business and I was designing for other companies. Both of us were looking for more of a hands-on connection to the production process - a way to responsibly manage a product from idea through production through sales. I had some experience casting iron in sculpture undergrad, so the process seemed like a great fit, and skillets became a natural extension of the casting exploration.

We have been developing the company as an experiment in small scale, micro-industrial manufacturing. Taking a product to market is prohibitively expensive for U.S. designers trying to find industry partnerships. Because the foundries that remain in the U.S. have specialized in complex and expensive castings, they are not interested in new projects that are anywhere near our price range. American foundries that we talked to basically told us to go to India or China to get our designs produced.

So the main factors that led us to this point are: 1) outsourcing production to the cheapest labor market is counter to our goals and 2) we love metal casting and consider the physical process of production to be the fun part of the design-market timeline. I hope that this answers some of your questions.

10engines: what will the final price point be on these?
We haven't pinned down the retail price yet (that will depend on how much interest we get and how much we can refine the production by then). The kickstarter prices are basically our break-even prices to get up and running, but once the facilities are in place we hope to be competitive with Staub + Le Creuset.
Best of luck to these guys. J.