Necessity, or perhaps convenience, was the
mother of invention for Jason Lutz, founder of
Vermont Cedar Chair Co. in Hardwick, Vermont.
After graduating with a degree in mechanical
engineering from Ohio State University in 2008,
he returned to his mother’s Vermont property,
which had been mistakenly clear-cut by loggers
hired only to thin out the woodland. Faced with
lots of unwanted, too-skinny cedar branches,
Lutz fashioned some of them into a rustic, earthy
chair. He’s been producing and selling variations,
including the Vermont Rocker (below at left) and
the Vermont Adirondack, ever since. Other
outdoor pieces such as benches, ottomans, and
side tables (below at right) soon followed.
Especially innovative are the chairs’ suspension
seats. A simple over-under weave of strong Manila
rope ties the branches side by side to allow
flexibility. It embraces the weight of the body,
much like a hammock. “You can sit in it for hours,”
Since sustainability is the backbone of the
business, the white cedar trees, 4 inches or less
in diameter, are harvested by hand from forests
within a 30-mile radius of the company’s factory.
(Removing these younger trees promotes the
growth of more mature trees.)
“A lot of people like the bark-on version,” says
Lutz of the cedar chairs, “but some people need
something a little more refined, more traditional.”
So he introduced the Acadia line, made with milled
cedar, as well as the Bamboo line, made in Vietnam
using that country’s vast bamboo resources.
Prices range from $150 to $400. Vermont
Cedar Chair Co., 154 V T- 15 West, Hardwick, V T;
do this type of work in isolation,” he says. “It takes
a community.” Prices range from $35 for small
pieces to $300 to $1,300 for most tables and
benches. More elaborate pieces are priced
higher. Inspired Stones, 152 Commonwealth
Avenue, West Concord, MA; inspiredstones.