create / 2015

Creating a Space for the Creative Class

Creating a Space for the Creative Class

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Off The Saw

Los Angeles is home to thousands of craft furniture makers that lack access to tools, resources, and educational opportunities to grow their businesses. These furniture makers grapple with questions about how to best design and build a product and get it to market. Off The Saw will create a year-long series of discussions to examine how craftsmanship can survive and thrive in our city and to create a toolkit for building LA's creative economy.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • Off The Saw is located in Downtown Los Angeles and we serve a population throughout LA County.

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Expand a pilot or a program
  • Develop a model and curriculum that can be scaled and used in other shops throughout LA, California, and the US.

How will your proposal improve the following “Create” metrics?

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Arts establishments per capita
  • Concentration of manufacturing activity in LA
  • Jobs per capita
  • Minority- and women-owned firms
  • Unemployment rates (and opportunities) for the formerly incarcerated (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to create.

Los Angeles is the creative capital of the state and the nation. More than 44% of all creative workers in California are located in our city and they contribute $80 billion to our economy directly. Creative occupations often require high levels of education and skills training in a particular discipline; in the case of craft furniture making, the occupation also requires the skill to run and grow a business. The furniture & decorative arts sector is expected to grow 11.5% over the next five years, but we need to give business owners in the craft furniture field the tools that they need to achieve this growth.

We propose to convene leading thinkers in the field for in-depth discussions about the obstacles to craft furniture making and ways to overcome them. Based on these conversations, we will create a small business toolkit for furniture makers. We will draw on experts from furniture production, product design, gallery sales, private collections, marketing, branding, business management, and the media. We will seek input from our community on topics of conversation, but initial ideas include product development, business management, media relations, social media, marketing strategies, client growth and management, sales strategies, and the role of craft in the 21st century. The thoughts and ideas that come out of these conversations will be accessible to our community through white papers, podcasts, and business support resources.

Our secondary goals are to: 1) Improve and expand workshop offerings for professional furniture makers and the general public to empower the community to create and to elevate the craft of furniture making. 2) Formalize and expand our pilot apprenticeship program to provide training and job placement in order to attract and retain creative talent.

Achieving these goals will empower individual makers with knowledge and resources, support the creative industry’s infrastructure, and ensure the sustainability and economic power of the crafts in Los Angeles.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

1) Survey the community to identify needs. 2) Based on survey results, form a committee to direct the work. 3) Seek regular input from the committee. 4) Use survey tools before and after each event. 5) Track number of downloads of the business toolkit. 6) Track press hits and share results with our community.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
  • Education/training
  • Network/relationship support