Making Good Use of Found Objects

A Ballard designer turns found objects into fab furniture
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It’s no surprise that Michael Marian, owner and lead builder at Marian Built (Ballard, 5410 28th Ave. NW; 206.328.2102; marianbuilt.com), became a found-things furniture designer. He demonstrated building skills even as a toddler and after getting a welder on his 16th birthday, his purposeful path was set. “My grandparents instilled in me a sense of not wasting things and reusing stuff and building out of what you have,” he says, “rather than buying new stuff.”

The Marian Built aesthetic ranges from gritty urban industrial metal works to warm woods paired with repurposed vintage pieces. Each creation comes with an authentic weathered patina, and usually a story, since pieces are locally sourced and handpicked by Marian. For example, his Parts Shelving System ($2,850) was salvaged from an old lighting factory auction in SoDo.

He reclaimed nearly 1,500 pounds worth of steel parts, including punches and presses, cleaned, reglued, rescrewed and then refinished the hefty piece with an oil-based stain. Another labor-intensive revival was the Amelia Butcher Block Kitchen Island ($4,820), created out of a 1960s airport gas pump (hence the nod to Amelia Earhart), first spotted in a rotting field. It was stripped down, its panels rewelded and a drawer, towel bar and shelving added. “There’s no playbook, no instruction manual on how to build stuff out of the materials that we use,” says Marian. “It’s all prototype and one of a kind.”

Marian’s tips for wannabe salvagers? “My best advice: Craigslist in small towns or, if they have their own community website, try that. The best things I’ve ever found were in places I went looking for something else.” 

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