"My family mostly wants me to be successful in an American Dream kind of way. They’re Old School. My grandfather grew up in an Italian family in Cincinnati and had an arranged marriage with my Italian grandmother. And my mom grew up in South America. So I think they still carry that immigrant mentality."
"The standard sofa"
"you don't fall far from the tree now." - bob moses
Last December on an extremely dark and rainy afternoon in Los Angeles, Nathalie, a good friend took me to the studio of furniture designer Michael Felix. Luckily, Michael's studio happens to be only a block away from where I live in downtown LA. The Arts District is a neighborhood that is quickly transforming with art galleries (Hauser and Wirth, Ibid, Museum as Retail Space) and small boutique stores, restaurants, and young designers. Michael recently moved into his studio space, which is subdivided with many other artists and designers in a beautiful decaying 1920's paint factory building. We talked for a few hours about the intention of Michael's works, the first year start-up of his line, and his family history, of being a 3rd generation upholstery designer. There are an incredible amount of furniture designers working and emerging in Los Angeles at the moment, but very few I know of that are 3rd generation. Michael's work is both a nod to the past in technique, material, and familiar forms, and a request for entry into the future. Eager to see where he takes this collection. Thanks Michael for the conversation. - David John
"Michael Felix is a handcrafted furniture company that designs and produces upholstered goods in Southern California. A 3rd generation upholstery designer, Michael started from the ground up as a sample-maker’s assistant in the furniture factory founded in 1959 by his grandfather. His in-depth understanding of classic upholstery techniques makes for a collection that is thoughtfully designed, structurally engineered and made for a lifetime of use. Each piece of furniture is made to order by hand in California, allowing for a maximum amount of customization of fabrics and finishes. Michael also designs custom furniture solutions for commercial and residential projects."
"the friends stool"
A converation with Michael Felix:
Describe your working background and how you came to launch your own furniture line?
After high school I was taking art classes and looking for a part time job. I was interested in design but didn’t have a specific focus so I decided to work at my dads upholstery company, learning from the ground up and apprenticing with the sample makers. It was a great way to immerse myself in the process and I also became really good friends with the craftsmen. After a couple years I became more involved and started designing for some of his clients. And eventually came to the point where I thought it would be fun to do my own thing.
When did you launch your own furniture line?
I launched my line about a year ago.
What is your specialty?
My specialty is upholstered goods because I have access to incredible craftsmen and production. I’m currently working on some wood items at the moment like shelving and side tables.
Is there a lot of pressure on you from your family since you're a third generation furniture designer and decided to branch out on your own?
My family mostly wants me to be successful in an American Dream kind of way. They’re Old School. My grandfather grew up in an Italian family in Cincinnati and had an arranged marriage with my Italian grandmother. And my mom grew up in South America. So I think they still carry that immigrant mentality.
What are some of the challenges you faced when you first started your own line?
A lot of challenges were small business style obstacles and the stress of doing something new. Believing in it but also not really knowing what it will be or how things will work.
Where is your furniture made? Everything is made in LA and the surrounding areas.
Since you come from a lineage of furniture designers, what is something one should consider when picking out a great sofa?
I’d say being comfortable would be the most important thing and of course the quality of the construction from sewing to the frame. The quality of the cover is important too. It’s what you’ll see all the time.
How much influence does your family have in what you design?
I ask them what they think of things because they have a lot of experience. But in the end I trust my gut and everything is my decision
visit Michael Felix's site here.
photography by Brandon Wickenkamp