"The guy I bought these bottles from has a serious collection of glass from the 1910s and '20s. But behind his booth, he had these bottles ‘in dug condition,’ and I loved that. Many are old elixir bottles from the early 1900s. I bought eight, including the big brown and white ones directly in front of me in the photo. They’ll definitely inform my designs. Hypothetically if I was designing a candle holder, I might look at 10 to 15 round objects and collage them together in my mind, drawing on just the lip of that brown bottle — the thickness and proportion of the top rim in relation to the neck."

Paul Loebach at the Brimfield Antique Fair

Once or twice a year, Brooklyn furniture designer Paul Loebach gets out his straw hat and bandana, ties on a pair of crappy old sneakers, drags out his huge canvas tote, and drives up to Massachussetts, where dealers from all over the Northeast gather every spring, summer, and fall for the Brimfield Antique Show. He spends three days there, snacking on lobster rolls and hand-cut french fries and mining the more affordable stands for quirky bits of inspiration he can take back to his studio and study: handmade crafts, bits of Americana, pieces that use unique construction methods — anything that shows evidence of the kind of resourcefulness he’s after in his latest work, modern furniture that draws on traditional American materials and manufacturing. “I’m really interested in people making use of the materials that were around them, and using primitive means to create something very impressive,” explains Loebach. To that end, Brimfield is a goldmine.

Most of the objects pictured here, two-thirds of which Loebach purchased, will seed future projects in ways he has yet to predict. Just don’t expect the translation to be literal. His upcoming sophomore line for the New York design store Matter, for example, will be based on old Adirondack furniture, but with a the typical Loebach twist. “I’m starting to work with a factory up in Pennsylvania to create a modern abstraction of a stick, machining its shape out of lumber using a CNC mill,” the designer says.