Meet Philip Tuan, President of From the Source, a creator of sustainably sourced hardwood furniture and accessories located at 20 East 20th Street.
1. Tell us more about From the Source, its mission, and your factory in Indonesia.
Established in 2000, From the Source began as a small vertical company with the goal of producing high-quality timeless pieces made with unique hardwoods. Our mission was always to highlight the hand craftsmanship of the natural sustainable materials we had access to. We have always believed in quality over quantity and the importance of bringing expertly crafted products to our customers. Our collection features quality hardwoods in a variety of uncommon sizes and stunning grains.
Over the past two decades, we have been able to secure partnerships with villagers and forestry officials in Indonesia. We are getting not only sustainably sourced hardwoods but also unique pieces of history.
Sustainability is our focal point along with the design of high-quality low manufacture products that promote a chic and responsible lifestyle.
2. Describe your role as President. What aspect of the job excites you the most?
As the President of From the Source, my role is to provide overall leadership and strategic direction to our design team, as well as building and maintaining strong relationships with clients, and to ensure that our sustainability goals are always being met. Furthermore, my job has been to create and manage a vertical operation that is transparent and thrives because of clear communication.
I would have to say the aspect of the position that excites me the most would have to be seeing our designs be brought to life. From the birth of a concept through development to the day it arrives…there is nothing more beautiful.
3. This month we honor Earth Day, the annual April 22nd celebration that recognizes the importance of environmental conservation. What sustainable furniture items that you offer are trending among customers and what are your personal favorites?
To us, Earth Day is every day. Our focus is always on sustainable conscious design. Through our inventive use of upcycled materials we create collections that stand the test of time. Some of our favorite collections are definitely the Lancar and Grasshopper Rubber collections, which feature repurposed materials.
The Lancar collection is an example of how recycled oil drums can be used to create functional pieces, such as cabinetry. The beauty of the Lancar collection comes down to surface texture. You can see all of the details that appear due to the hand hammering process used by our craftsmen, which date back to their previous industrial lives.
The Grasshopper Rubber collection features repurposed rubber stripped from old discarded tires and is meticulously handcrafted by artisans. From individually washing, slicing, and weaving each rubber strap to securing the brass tacks in place to create a beautifully woven seat, the Grasshopper collection has been a favorite of our customers for years.
4. You studied graphic design, printing, and photography. What inspired you to choose a career in producing handcrafted furniture?
I know my background seems very diverse, but when you look at it, my passion has always been based around art and the creation of something unique.
I love furniture making. From the craftsmanship and materials, to the history and tradition; it is an art that requires skill, patience, and attention to detail. When you create something that is both aesthetically beautiful and functional, the joy it can bring to someone is limitless.
5. For those aspiring to work in the sustainable furniture industry, what professional advice can you share?
The best advice I could give would probably be to stay focused on your mission above everything else. Do your research and stay dedicated to your cause. Learn as much as you can about sustainability and eco-balance, green practices when it comes to production, and surround yourself with a network of other suppliers and partners that share your passion.
6. When you’re taking a break from your business in the neighborhood, how do you like to spend your time in Flatiron and NoMad? What do you love most about these vibrant communities?
I absolutely love the Flatiron neighborhood and the energy of the community is why I chose to bring our showroom here. This neighborhood is full of creatives and they are the most interesting people to talk to. One of my favorite pastimes would have to be just walking around, meeting our neighbors, and learning about their businesses and favorite local spots. Some of my neighborhood favorites would have to be Devoción, Cosme, SONA, Gramercy Tavern, Bar Verōnika, and of course, Eataly.
7. Finally, choose three words to describe Flatiron and NoMad.