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?’ ” azurefurniture.com