High-end furniture attracts national attention

From Local Sources

KeithFritzFFA piece of furniture made in Ferdinand was recently featured in the New York Times Style section and in the Washington Post.

The cabinet, or console, which has a deep emerald green color and brass trim, was made at Keith Fritz Fine Furniture in Ferdinand before being displayed in the Kips Bay Show House, which Fritz said is the top design show house in the U.S.

“Kips Bay showcases things that are often new and innovative,” Fritz said.

The cabinet is a result of the local company’s collaboration with Brown & Davis Interiors, a high-end interior design firm based in Miami Beach, Fla., with which Fritz also worked on furniture for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Keith Fritz Fine Furniture, which now operates out of the former Jasper Cabinet Company plant in Ferdinand, employs 18 people. Fritz worked with four or five people on the console.

“It’s a team effort,” Fritz said. “No one person can do it by himself.”

In addition to Fritz’s team of helpers, the console was also slightly aided by a $50,000 loan from Dubois Strong, the county’s economic development group. Fritz said the loan, which should be paid back in about three years, helped give him “the working capital to put into this project.” Fritz, who specializes in high-end residential furniture, said he’s proud to be able to represent Dubois County in that arena. He declined to share the price of the console but said he sells only to architects and interior designers, who then move the furniture to families interested in one-of-a-kind pieces. In addition to the Times and the Post, the console has also been featured on Architectural Digest’s website and a CBS television affiliate in New York City.

“I’m very proud to be preserving that tradition of ultra high-end, super-fine, super-exquisite residential furniture in our community,” Fritz said. “It’s very important that the tradition is carried on and preserved.”

Fritz said many companies have shied away from high-end residential furniture since China has started to dominate the industry. However, Fritz sees the market as a place where quality beats quantity and if you make great furniture, people will pay top dollar for it.

“It’s not just furniture. It’s art,” Fritz said. “And that’s what the very wealthy want. You can’t compete with China on price, but if you give clients art, that’s what they want and they’ll pay for it.”

That’s why Fritz said he runs his Ferdinand company like an art studio, not as a streamlined manufacturing. Fritz said he’s hoping to add a couple employees in the near future and that business is going well. He’s always on the lookout for exotic, rare woods and tries to use trees with unique characteristics to give his designs pop.

“I want to make art. You only live once,” Fritz said. “Why not make something that’s designed to be around forever? Not disposable. Let’s build some furniture that has soul. It has an energy. It’s unique.”