Rob McGowan and Ben Olson started their custom furnishings business, Fin Art, almost by accident. Friends since middle school, McGowan and Olson grew up in Vail and moved to Denver after college, where they began building furniture out of necessity. “We couldn’t afford to buy any cool furniture,” McGowan says. “We figured: How hard could it be to build?” The duo scoured lumberyards and alleys, and frequented salvage yards in search of materials. Discarded items like busted conveyor belts, sections of old airplane wings, and tattered pieces of wood became the foundations for modern cabinets, desks, and dressers.
They’ve perfected their unusual design technique over the past five years, yet McGowan still struggles to describe their pieces: Modern industrial, repurposed meets modern, salvaged midcentury modern—whatever you call it, it works. The lifelong pals, both now 28, have graduated from tinkering in a garage to designing pieces in a legitimate studio in the Baker neighborhood. These days, their furniture is scattered in restaurants and stores around Denver—Linger, Sputnik, Zeitgeist, Fancy Tiger Clothing, Buffalo Exchange—as well as in various private homes. “Hopefully in a few years,” McGowan says, “we’ll have changed the look of Denver.”
—Image courtesy of James Cromwell Holden