Furniture designer’s work highlighted at downtown gallery

Loran Bohall’s creativity represents more than a sleek, modern look. Ideally, he wants it to be an encompassing vibe to help others relax and unwind.

Look no further than the very design even of “Salon,” his exhibition of high-end furniture for design firms and others at 411 Gallery through May 20 at 411 Sixth St., also known as the multicolored Sixth Street Arts Alley in Columbus.

The designer has the space set up like a comfortable living room, and, perhaps as a salute to his throwback craftsmanship, he has even included a record player with some of his favorite vinyl selections, ranging from the Americana of John Prine to the Appalachian sounds of Pokey LaFarge.

Call it music in concert with movables.

As uber-humble as Bohall seems to be, he can be understandably forgiven for excluding the tunes of Bigfoot Yancey, the very active and visible musical group of which he himself is a part.

“I wanted to curate this (gallery) as a very usable space, and to give it a more accessible feeling,” said the Westport native and current Indianapolis resident now leading seven-year-old, five-person Bohall Design and Fabrication in Indy. “I wanted people to fully experience the totality of the pieces.”

That means people sitting in the chairs and running their hands along the table. Hands-on perhaps has never been so off the charts, even with his most expensive works stretching to a $29,000 price tag.

His tunes and his trade as a fourth-generation woodworker find a not-so-surprising intersection.

“For me, the biggest connection that I would make is the traditionalism of the music I’m drawn to and the traditionalism of woodworking and craftsmanship,” Bohall said. “That’s referring to the old-time ways of doing things and the old-timers who are the real treasure troves of knowledge and the teachers who help us understand what years of experience can bring us.

“Most of my (arts) background is from older musicians and from older craftsmen. And I am fortunate enough to have an older musician as a mother (Liz Bohall).”

Brooke Hawkins, executive director of the Columbus Area Arts Council that programs the gallery space, is a fan of both Bohall’s music and his furniture.

“What I love most about his work is that he pairs old-style craftsmanship with modern and contemporary styles,” Hawkins said. “You can see that he’s definitely responding to what his clients want and what is trending for home furniture. But he is still using that older craftsmanship and thoughtful materials and techniques.

“That’s what I see when I look at his work.”

Technically, he refers to his pieces as products of teamwork.

“I attribute a lot of our success to a really great and talented team of crafts people,” Bohall said. “When we started, I was confident that we could do well, because I really didn’t even fully know how deep things would get.

“But I was really, really driven while working solo in the beginning because I was certain of what I wanted to be doing. I was slowly able to collect a really talented team of fabricators that allow us to do things on a larger scale. We’ve also been lucky to find great clients in all this process.”

The firm completes work for 30 to 40 clients annually, ranging from well-heeled residential clients to large-scale design firms or restaurants. Bohall passes plenty of credit for guiding his firm through the day-to-day process to his partner, Lauren Day.

“I’m strategy and emotional support,” Day cracked.

About the exhibit

Who: Furniture maker Loran Bohall of Indianapolis in the exhibition “Salon.” Also included is “Rural Weaving: Energy in the Landscape” by Laura Foster Nicholson.

When: Through May 20.

Where: 411 Gallery at 411 Sixth St. in downtown Columbus.

Admission: Free.