In 1983, when art, underground culture, and grit defined Manhattan, designers and craftsmen Jeff Behnke and Roland Zehetbauer took a risk, launching their first venture—Altura Furniture, a bespoke wood furnishings company. Nearly four decades later, the duo continues to breathe new life into classic forms, from dining tables to upholstered beds, with their transformative designs.
Though the company now operates out of a studio in Portland, Oregon, its contemporary collections retain an urban edge. Altura Furniture's distinguished tables, offered in an array of styles, sizes, top shapes, base types, and finishes, enable designers to create multi-use spaces without sacrificing form for function. "We're all about marrying design and craftsmanship within each piece," says Behnke, noting that the brand's Kemizo collection is a prime example. "Altura has been designing and building furniture for over 37 years, and Kemizo is the culmination of all that has been created and discovered over that time."
The Kemizo table takes on a form that is symmetrical in plan but slightly juxtaposed in elevation with a lightness of top and base. The profile and rounded corners soften the table's geometry, creating a contemporary aesthetic, while the addition of metal inlays draw the eye toward hand hewn details. "There is much thought and intent to the many offerings in the collection, especially the self-storing pivoting leaf feature of the dining tables," adds Behnke.
To create each piece, the design team strikes a balance between artisanal techniques and modern machines, but human hands are instrumental throughout. One builder is typically assigned per table, while a skilled team works collaboratively on larger production orders. Drawing on finely honed skills, each design gets its start from a simple sketch, demanding attention to detail the second pen meets paper—a vital step given that nearly half of the brand's orders include some form of customization, from a dimension change to a requested finish.
As demand grows for flexible furnishings in and out of the home, Altura Furniture's collection stands out for its expansive range of offerings, including 32 standard finishes with five metal finishes, and quality craftsmanship. Each piece is designed to suit modern and traditional spaces alike, with seemingly endless customization options. Up next, Altura Furniture is gearing up to launch a companion Kemizo case goods collection.