From Wall Street to Woodworker – Woodworking Article

Wall Street experience helps custom woodworker grow business


By Ann Gurley Rogers
Added: August 11, 2009
Original Article Link from 

Ed Rode’s three decades as a Wall Street trader have helped in his new career as a custom furniture maker.

In 2005, Ed Rode was ready to risk leaving a three-decade-long career as a trader on Wall Street so that he could give his full attention to his passion — designing and making high-end art furniture. He says his background helped him in his new career, but in unexpected ways.

For instance, he says he got one of his early promotions because his boss learned of his reputation as a problem-solver. That skill — being able to identify and solve problems — is an essential character trait for a successful entrepreneur, Rode says. Working on Wall Street also taught him to relate effectively to other people, he adds, noting that having good inter-personal skills has been far more important to him in establishing a customer base and a team of colleagues than being able to understand balance sheets.

Working on Wall Street also forced Rode to learn to cultivate coping mechanisms for dealing with a highly-charged and chaotic environment. “There were times during the day when all of the commotion of trading would become a bit much,” he says. “I would take off my headphones and ask my clerks to time me out. I would step back, close my eyes and take about three deep breaths. Then I would be ready to go back at it again. This ability to re-establish a sense of calmness during stressful times has been very helpful to me as I have been setting up my new business.”

Re-Branding, with Professional Help
About six months ago, Rode decided that his business was ready for a new look. The name that he originally had selected for his company, “Mustardseed Woodworking,” had personal meaning for him. But he felt that he needed something different if he was going to catch the attention and confidence of professional interior designers. Changing the name to Rode Furniture accompanied a total re-branding for his company. His target date for completing this project was prior to the 2009 Annual Architectural Digest Home Design Show, held this spring, where he exhibits his work.

At the show, Rode debuted his new brand, plus new furniture created for the residential and corporate environment, including conference tables, coffee and cocktail tables, desks and lighting. The collection offers one-of-a-kind statement pieces inspired by the wood from which they are created.

Rode engaged the services of a graphic designer to implement the re-branding of his company and in the process established a relationship with him that he values highly.

“The graphic designer is a member of my team, and I expect to work with him for a long time,” he says. “For one thing, he is able to seamlessly develop and maintain all of the collateral materials that I need, freeing me to focus on furniture design.”

Rode also cultivated a relationship with an independent print professional who has been able to steer him in the right direction, helping him avoid costly mistakes.

Advertising Pays Off
Exhibiting at the Architectural Digest show turned out to be the beginning of a relationship with the magazine, as well. Because Rode was an exhibitor, he was able to buy an ad at a discounted rate, which proved to be a beneficial investment. He says he has received inquiries from all over the country, includingLos Angeles,Santa Barbara andPalm Beach. He even has been exchanging e-mails with a potential client inIndia.

“I feel as though the ad opened up a whole new market for me. This experience has driven home for me the importance of advertising,” he says.

Even though Rode succeeded in reaching beyond theNew Yorkmarket, he realizes thatNew Yorkremains his base. For his next marketing strategy, he is thinking about a cross-marketing approach, collaborating with art galleries in theNew Yorkarea. His vision is to place some of his furniture as accent pieces in the galleries in order to get examples of his furniture collection in front of people who collect original art. He feels they are likely to have an interest in high-end custom furniture as well — and could be another “avenue” for his work.



From Urban Jungle to Enchanted Forest Article










Entering the gallery at Rode Furniture inFairfieldis taking a step into the unexpected.  The industrial park setting gives no hint to the Zen retreat inside.  Incense, new-age music and soft lighting form a perfect backdrop for the organic gems that owner Ed Rode has created.  

            The wood is the star here – gleaming under the lights, all its whorls and patterns revealed with painstaking perfection.  Rode is the charming tour guide, eager to share the history and background of his pieces.  Tree names evocative of exotic locales roll off his tongue – Bubinga, Sapele, Kerri, and Jarrah.  Many of these woods are fromAustraliaandWestern Africa, but Rode also works with beautiful domestic woods. 

            He has an informal network of lumber dealers who scout outstanding pieces for him and he often travels to thePacific Northwesthimself.  Rode is particularly attracted to burls – knotty growths on tree trunks that often yield intricately patterned wood.  It is important to him that the burls be naturally harvested without felling the tree, if possible. 

            Although his workshop holds many pieces of promising lumber waiting to be transformed, Rode also has a number of finished pieces in his showrooms.  They are studies in contrasts, exciting yet serene, modern yet organic.  Many steps up the design ladder from the redwood tables of the ‘60s and ‘70s, his furniture is reminiscent of the works of George Nakashima, but with a contemporary Rode edge. 

            The work is all the more remarkable because until five years ago, Rode had never worked anyplace but Wall Street.  Growing up inBrooklyn, his first job at age 14 was as a messenger delivering stocks and bonds between various traders.  He worked his way up, eventually became a trader himself, and then one day decided he really needed to do something “fun.” 

            Having learned woodworking skills from his father as a youth and been an avid hobbyist all his life, Rode began studying in earnest and exercising his design skills.  Eventually he took his talent to the professional level, and turned it into a successful business.  He progressed from making small tables designed to comfortably accommodate a person seated on a zafu pillow to a high-end designer of “bespoke” or custom furniture, often designed in collaboration with its future owners.  Designers frequent his gallery for their customers, as well as for their homes. 

            Visitors will enjoy seeing Rode’s unique furniture.  The top of one table – fit for conference or dining rooms – is crafted from a single board of Bubinga.  Other glass topped tables sit on bases made from a hollow River Gum tree salvaged from a forest fire.  Each piece is distinctive and has a story.  

            Samples of Rode’s furniture can be viewed on his website, or showings can be arranged by appointment.  In the meantime, Rode has realized his goal of enjoying his work, saying “I like what I do and I may be the luckiest man I know.”

Rode Furniture
18 Passiac Avenue, Fairfield 973-906-6000




June 2011 | Suburban Essex Magazine | Author – Mary Stifenhaus | Click for Full Article Link


Interview with Ed Rode and Robert Ayers

November 2010 – Ed Rode, furniture designer and artisan, talks with Robert Ayers, art critic and journalist, about his collection. He explains that the “goal of all my furniture is to find some kind of comfortable point of contact between the organic and the contemporary: I like both of those styles of design, but not necessarily independent of one another, so I like blending them.”

Woodworking Article on Rode Furniture

Happy to announce we were featured in an Article on Woodworking  Network by Ann Gurley Rogers in August of 2009.

Take a Look:–inner-trees/2009-08-11/Article.aspx?oid=935690



Stunning custom furniture designs bring out pieces’ inner trees

By Ann Gurley Rogers

Added: August 11, 2009

Ed Rode says he likes his designs to ‘reveal the tree within the furniture.’


Ed Rode characterizes himself as a designer and builder of fine art furniture, but adds, “Functionality is my utmost goal. The function has to be melded with the design.”

The inspiration for many of his stunning designs comes from a lifelong habit of spending time in the forest, sketching. The end result is a personal design formula that “reveals the tree within the piece of furniture,” Rode says. Some pieces demonstrate a tree’s record of having endured hurricanes, droughts, rainy seasons or forest fires, with dramatic results. Such specimens often present the most design challenges, he adds, and test his woodworking skills.

The 5,000-square-foot facility housing Rode Furniture inLivingston,NJ, includes both work area and showroom. The showroom inventory serves two purposes. Sometimes a designer walks in, spots a particular piece and declares that it will be perfect in a particular space, and Rode is “elated.” But he also is gratified when a customer is inspired by one of his creations and has the vision to see an alternate form of that piece. 

“I love the collaborative process, and I encourage the good design ideas that homeowners as well as designers bring to the process,” he says.

Rode relates one experience that demonstrates the breadth of vision some people have. A potential customer saw Rode’s ad in the July 2009 issue of Architectural Digest and visited his Web site. He liked the tables that he saw there, but was in the market for a fireplace mantle. However, the quality and design of the tables satisfied him, and he decided to talk to Rode about designing the mantle.

Rode uses wood from all over the world. In theUnited States, his best sources are New England andCalifornia. “Last year, I put at least 1,000 miles on a rental car inCalifornialooking for unusual pieces,” he says. “Additionally, I work with a supplier inPennsylvaniawho travels the world looking for lumber. I often purchase wood from him that he finds in western Africa and southwestern Australia. He has fun, and he makes my life a lot simpler.”

Before starting his furniture making business, Rode had a successful career on Wall Street that spanned three decades. His custom furniture company is only four years old, but has seen remarkable development, partly due to his corporate training.


Rode says that he was inspired by the works of James Krenov and Sam Maloof. Although his formal woodworking career is just getting started, he notes that he has been making furniture all his life.

 “I can remember that when I was a kid and would fill out any kind of form or application that asked for hobbies,” he says, “I always filled in ‘woodworking.’”




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