The company's five collections of furniture are all made in the Ocean State.
Jonathan Glatt and Sara Ossana were graduate students at the Rhode Island School of Design when they met in 2002. Glatt was studying jewelry and metalsmithing, while Ossana was majoring in interior architecture.
By happenstance, they both decided to enroll in a furniture welding class during the winter session, even though the skill was not required in their major fields of study.
But because of their respective love of historic furniture, they kindled a friendship that endures today as business partners at O&G Studio in Warren, Rhode Island.
The pair are especially fond of the classic wooden Windsor chair that dates to the 18th century, but their mission was not to reproduce historic chairs of days gone by. Rather, they wanted the authentic piece of furniture to evolve and be manufactured with the same hand-crafted detail implemented in the 1700s.
So, instead of concentrating on jewelry and interior architecture after graduation, Glatt and Ossana indulged their passions and opened O&G Studio in 2009. It commenced with just the two of them handmaking every piece of furniture that was sold to select customers.
Rapid growth quickly ensued, doubling orders year after year. Today they have a showroom next to their 20,000-square-foot studio and employ an additional 18 woodworking artisans to keep the classic pieces American-made.
“We both really had a love for antiques, consignment shops, auctions and things like that, and saw a rich history and tradition of making it in the United States that really wasn’t celebrated at the time,” Ossana said. “It is a little more so now because I think people are waking up to the fact to celebrate Made in America and manufacturing. We just felt like there needed to be a voice, someone to kind of carry the torch and continue. Our needs happened to be Windsor chairs or furniture with a more contemporary interpretation of the classics.”
Their furniture line is bought and sold throughout the United States, but it has the look of old-fashioned, New England heirloom pieces.
“I think we have a lot of New England design DNA in them, but the interpretation of what we add is really about our personal interests and likes which are much more wide-ranging,” Glatt said. “The idea of the Windsor, which is a very New England piece, that kind of became a canvas for us to project all our other influences on.
“The furniture is very much updated. It sort of takes cues from those early styles but it is an evolution of what that early style was. It is really updated versions of the old pieces.”
Ossana and Glatt started production with a sole product — the Windsor chair. Today, after nearly 10 years in business, they have five collections of furniture, and are manufacturing more than 120 pieces per month. Besides a variety of chairs, O&G artisans also hand craft settees, benches, tables, stools, desks, mirrors and lighting.
The O&G team procures its wood through several suppliers in the Northeast, Pennsylvania and Canada. Not just any wood makes the grade.
“We pick the location and get them basically from the quality of the tree from those locations,” Glatt said. “Different climates produce wood of different quality. Our suppliers we’ve worked with long enough that they understand what we are looking for and they go straight to the mills and have it mill cut and dried the way it works for us. That allows us to really push the envelope design-wise making pieces that are really beautiful and delicate, but are actually a lot stronger than you might think at first look. That material allows us to do the type of design we do.”
O&G offers 19 different color choices and all the stains are made in-house, which is a proprietary part of the business. The stains provide a durable finish and allow the character and grain of the wood to shine through so that no two chairs will look exactly alike.
This may explain why the bulk of O&G's business comes from referrals from interior designers and architects.
You may be able to purchase a faux Windsor chair made by machines in a manufacturing plant in some foreign country, but it will never match the quality and timelessness of an O&G masterpiece.
“The unique thing about the Windsor chair is that they are all about the seat,” Glatt said. “Most chairs, the seat is added last. Windsor chairs start with a hand-carved seat and once we carve our seat, we turn it to the undercarriage part and add parts and start sanding.
“When you make a Windsor chair, if you don’t make a seat, you don’t have a chair. You just have a pile of parts. So, everything, the legs, the back-posts and spindle all stick into the seat of the chair. That’s one way you can identify them.”
O&G products are featured in a variety of furniture stores for a first-hand customer look, but when purchasing you will most likely have to have it made-to-order. With handcrafted specialty Made in America items, it would be impossible for retail outlets to stock the many varieties and colors from O&G.
Consumers can also visit O&G online to shop. A phone call or email will connect you with Ossana or Glatt to discuss details of your made-to-order purchase.
And while O&G was initially known for its Windsor chairs, it is hitting the jackpot these days with its line of settees, which are long benches with backs created in the Windsor chair style. O&G's settees can be built from four-feet long up to 12 feet, and O&G claims that no other company does settees in so many different lengths.
“They are really unique and are kind of the showcase of our design, what we can build and how good we’ve gotten at what we do,” Glatt said. “I think those are the pieces that top the list for me.”
Perhaps it is no coincidence that O&G Studio is in Warren, R.I., which is located at the top of Narraganset Bay. Ossana is from Arizona and Glatt was raised in New Jersey — but they both remain in Rhode Island.
“Warren began as a little trading town,” Glatt said. “It’s just a little kind of 18th century village on the bay.”
Are you beginning to see a connection here? Rhode Island is known for some of the most iconic and most highly regarded early American design from the Ocean State’s furniture industry several centuries ago.
“The big part about being here in Rhode Island is a contributing factor to have gotten easier to find great people and quality of life, how we run the shop,” Glatt said. “Where we are and how we work as a team is a big part of it. It helps because you spend more time at work than at other things so that’s all really important that everything is in balance.”
Added Ossana: “It’s all about relationships today. They have to depend on you for quality and deliver up to their client’s expectations. The business part is hard, but we love what we do so that makes it much easier.”