Somewhere between traditional stonework and modern sculpture, Dave and Andy Cole have cultivated a successful niche in the masonry business. The father-and-son team specializes in crafting decorative concrete tables, benches and chairs that complement rustic decor so beautifully they become a natural extension of any room.
Andy has a degree in landscape architecture, but his training began more than 20 years ago, watching his dad on job sites long before his formal education commenced. "I started woodworking around age 10 without any formal training," he says. "I watched videos, read magazines and disassembled furniture whenever I could [to] copy what I was seeing."
His first professional project was no small feat. The composite concrete, wood and metal trough table was inspired by a limestone relic in the Italian gardens of Villa Lante. Like the original, a shallow groove in the table is the piece de resistance. The "runnel" can hold everything from flowers to water to sand, and — with some tinkering — a small pump will pulse water to the surface to create a waterfall effect.
Another inspired piece is the Cole & Sons vanity washstand. In a twist of classical design, the concept mimics a traditional pitcher and bowl. Atop the washstand, a simple glass basin and arched faucet exemplify 19th-century practicality at its finest — a melange of simplicity and function. "The washstand combines a glass bowl for a sink basin and a ’cascading’-type fixture, [which] was meant to mimic the sensation of water being poured from a pitcher," says Andy. "The concrete top is hand-polished and distressed to look as if it were hundreds of years old."
Growing up in a log home, Andy connected early on with the outdoors. The mountain setting of his youth is reflected in his work today, but an even deeper source of inspiration stems from a genuine appreciation for natural materials. "A common misconception about building materials is that they are cold and dead, when in fact they are very much alive," he says. "The concrete curing process never stops; no one knows how hard concrete really gets because it never stops getting harder. Wood will move and try to twist over the years. Planning ahead for that makes a project as attractive 10 years down the road as it was the day you brought it home."
An eclectic mix of organic materials lends each Cole & Sons design its adaptability and appeal. Concrete, wood, stone and glass are layered and fused in tailor-made furniture rich with Old-World artistry and charm. Each piece is conceptualized in a series of drawings. Once the dimensions are roughed out, Andy and Dave polish the sketches until they have a solid depiction of the completed project. From there, the two will build a prototype or three-dimensional model to guide production.
Collaborating with homeowners is not only good business practice for Dave and Andy; it’s a requirement for all commissioned projects. Every piece they create is based on necessity, so custom works begin with a central Q-and-A: what purpose the furniture will serve, where it will be displayed and how it will be maintained. Prices vary widely and are determined by scale, materials and complexity. Small stools and water sculptures start at $400, while a dining room set ranges from $8,000 to $10,000.