In the Studio with SF Woodworker Florian Roeper

Woodworker Florian Roeper is nervous. He’s sewing leather sleeves for three of his resin-topped tables he has made using tricks and techniques picked up from an elderly saddle maker in Half Moon Bay.

Roeper works on one of the tables he's created in his Alameda studio.

The 24-inch-high tables are shaped like teardrops, the material has to fit the base like a second skin and he’s never done anything like this before—but that’s not the source of his anxiety. “Of course I’m worried!” he says, surveying the leather scraps littering the surface around the industrial sewing machine he’s purchased for this purpose. “This leather is damned expensive.”

Roeper's teardrop-shaped tables from the Candy Series feature layers of gold leaf, paint and epoxy.

Roeper opened his workshop—Studio Roeper—12 years ago after he graduated from California College of the Arts. He had hoped to study graphic design, but after a chance encounter with furniture making in an art survey class, he was hooked. “At first, I had thought about architecture, but I migrated to graphic design because it was more immediate,” he says. “But with graphic design, I realized I would be in front of the computer, well, forever. It seemed like furniture design was the perfect fit for me: I could have my hands directly on the materials and I could build pieces relatively quickly.”

When creating a new piece, Roeper starts small. He crafts tiny models, which help him compose colors, materials and form.

Another unexpected turn in a job interview inspired him to finally set up shop. “I’d worked with Al Garvey, who made fine custom doors, and I was casting around for another apprenticeship,” Roeper says. “The people at Berkeley Mills looked at my portfolio and suggested that my work was so unique, I should really go into business for myself. So I decided to do it.”

The woodworker uses a drill press to create table supports.

The Hollywood table features a glamorous bronze insert and X-shaped base.

Today Roeper’s pieces can be seen everywhere from the Four Seasons in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to high-end living rooms in Santa Cruz. His creations are notable for their diversity of materials: tables topped with zinc of varying patinas, wood that’s been burned and sealed, bronze inlays and copper leaf covered by a thick coat of epoxy. “I’m drawn to tables,” he says. “I don’t have to figure out how they function and, to me, their tops are like canvases.”

Another one of Roeper's pieces, "Divided Lands II."

Editor's Note: This piece was originally featured in the January 2011 issue of California Home + Design.

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