Meet the Makers: Andre Sandifer

Furniture designer Andre Sandifer has been working as a Michele Schara Artist and Designer in Residence with us at the Brightmoor Maker Space since January 2020.

Andre Sandifer, left, working with BMS’ Marcus Lewis

Andre, can you tell us a little about your background…how did you go from being a college football player to a furniture designer?

I graduated from Ferris State University where I studied Facilities Management and Architectural Technology, I also received an Athletic Scholarship to play football.  During my time at Ferris I went from being a jock in the fall to thinking about how you would organize furniture in an office plan. 

We met you a couple of years back and then reconnected. What prompted your interest in working at the Maker Space?

I was in the process of rethinking my current Design practice, moving away from direct to consumers to thinking about design and development.  I was thinking about design as an exploration of ideas and for me Brightmoor makerspace was a great place to think about exploring ideas within the context of academics and making.

Can you describe some of what you feel makes the Maker Space a special place?

I have also been fascinated by the idea of learning through the process of making.  Brightmoor makerspace embodies this notion of designing and making as it relates to everyday living.  

You have been an incredible mentor. I wanted to ask about the Ishinomaki Lab collaboration here. What have you as a designer experienced working from another designer’s drawings and processes?

As a designer when you  get to see how other designers think and execute their designs, it can be a great opportunity to learn new methods of designing through a different lens. 

The table you have designed and constructed is incredible–I know we have talked about its origins (both conceptually and materially) can you share a little bit of that with folks here?

The client wanted to reused material from their 1914’s demolished kitchen to make a dining table for a family of six.  The challenge for this project was that I had a limited amount of material and the material was from several different wood species, so I had to design something that spoke about family as well as incorporated different wood species. 

The design was based on the language of family, I was moved by the idea of family, the beauty of family but also the complexity of family.  She had asked me to design a round table for their home. She’s married with four kids so I calculated: between each child is nine months, so each section has nine dowels that begin to close the circle. The kids provided the structure. The brass ring securing the legs became the marriage that bonded the structure together. The top became the parents, the providers. As a parent, whatever things you’re going through, you pass down to your kids. The weight of the parents registers on the kids.

As we peer into the (hopefully) near future, are you willing to give us a sneak peek for your next project at the Maker Space?

For sure, the next project will be thinking about the idea of diverse living and working environments as it relates to the everyday.

(Shortly after this interview, Andre published a beautiful essay with Age of Humility. You can read that text here.)