Crafting a Solution

A Colorado furniture maker turned entrepreneur wants you to go green—by going blue.
January 2013

When woodworker Corbin Clay, now 30, moved to Colorado in 2008, he was struck by an observation: What’s with all the dead pine trees? 

Clay, who’d bypassed college in favor of an apprenticeship with an 80-year-old German master craftsman in Florida, soon acquired an Aurora workshop and began experimenting with beetle-kill pine—which he’d learned was the byproduct of a beetle infestation that threatened millions of acres of Colorado forests. Clay developed a reputation for designing stunning custom cabinets and furniture incorporating the relatively inexpensive hardwood (about a fifth of the price of walnut). Like all good entrepreneurs, he recognized an opportunity for convergence, and the Azure Furniture Company, named for beetle-kill pine’s signature bluish streaks, was born.

With simple lines and a near-clear finish, the furniture is Ikea-esque in style, but the beetle-kill pine’s unique markings impart a custom-made feel to each design. The modern collection of about 30 pieces retails online (coffee tables start at $379 and dining room tables run between $799 and $1,200). Clay hopes to eventually take the concept national through a franchise model. “We like,” Clay says, “to think of it as, ‘How many jobs can the beetles create?’ ”