Simple, Straight & Sturdy
For more than a century, Old Hickory’s chairs have graced summer cabins, camps and retreats all over America
Photos courtesy of Old Hickory Furniture
Old Hickory persists in popularity because the pieces are comfortable, long-lasting and have a rugged, readily recognizable mountain vibe. People in the Rockies identify with the brand. Folks from the Adirondacks also lay claim to the look. “Where I grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains, we thought the chairs were made right there,” says Jeremiah Young, the newly appointed creative director for Old Hickory Furniture Company. In fact, the chairs are handcrafted in Indiana—as they have been for the past 120 years.
The Gathering lamp was designed to use random ends of wood left over from making chair legs.
“There’s almost nothing more beautiful than bundles of wood … stacks of wood or cords of wood,” says Young, whose grandfather was a carpenter and furniture maker. “I still use his carpenters ruler.”
One of Old Hickory’s earliest commissions was to make chairs for the dining room and rockers for the veranda of the newly built Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. The chairs (made in 1904) are still in use today. Other prestigious commissions followed—Jenny Lake Lodge in the Grand Tetons, Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park, Crater Lake Lodge and the presidential retreat at Camp David.
Lolo folding chairs are timeless. “The durability of hickory and the way the sling carries your weight makes this chair sturdy and comfortable,” says Young. Classic fabrics like buffalo check and Pendleton plaids add to the chairs’ charm.
Although it is a heritage company with a rich archive, Old Hickory has always been forward thinking, as evidenced by collaborations with noted designers like midcentury legend Russel Wright. Young envisions future collaborations with great old American brands like Pendleton Woolen Mills and also with young and hip voices like Forsyth, specialists in luxury hide. “We want to push the language of materials,” he says, pointing to the Butte chair with its luxurious California sheepskin cushions.
The Old Hickory look is at home across the U.S.
The Jeremiah Young-designed secretary desk has a compact foot print—perfect for a small room or cabin.
Not afraid to mix quintessential Old Hickory with other materials like leather, fabric and even lightweight concrete, Young says that the new pieces will be named after places in Montana. He recalls moving to the state with his family when he was 17 years old and falling head-over-heels in love with the American West. The family returned to Tennessee; he stayed.
Old Hickory’s booth at a trade show features a glamping tent.
In addition to being creative director for Old Hickory, Young is owner and creative director of Montana-based Kibler & Kirch, a high-end interior design firm. His extensive experience allows him to seamlessly integrate rugged Old Hickory pieces into contemporary mountain homes. “Sometimes just one piece can bring ‘soul’ into an otherwise sleek setting,” he says.
Old Hickory remains a pioneer in making environmentally friendly furniture. When hickory saplings are cut, they sprout right back and don’t deplete the forest.
Organically inspired, the Great Falls chair—designed for relaxing—gently cradles the body. “It just feels right,” says Young, who is naming many of the new pieces after iconic Montana landmarks.
Of his new designs, he is especially proud of the Great Falls chair—made for relaxing. “Your body just flows into it, allowing your shoulders to relax into the arms,” he says. He designed the Gathering lamp from random lengths of hickory left over from making chair legs. Young saw the beauty in this about-to-be-discarded wood. “I gathered it up and bundled it together,” he says. “It was almost like gathering firewood.” To make the lamps, the wood is bound with rawhide and topped with a drum-shaped rawhide shade.
A twiggy and whimsical Woodburst mirror reflects light and warmth into a rustic or a modern room.
“Old Hickory is the epitome of style and comfort … and is flagrantly American,” Young says. “It is honest furniture to be shared with future generations.”
As seen in the August 2019 issue