Producing truly unique furniture is no easy feat these days. It requires a fresh perspective and an exceptional amount of skill. That’s where Todd Hewitt comes in. The founder of Last Ditch Design is a passionate, self-taught designer who dreams up stunningly original pieces and brings them to life. We recently chatted with Hewitt to learn more about his company, his roots in the furniture world and his inspirations today.
What ignited your passion for furniture design?
While studying graphic design in college, I took a night job building lodgepole furniture and immediately fell in love. The gratification from taking a two-dimensional idea and bringing it to life as a physical product immediately had me hooked. My journey started in Wyoming and brought me to Seattle, which eventually led me to Henrybuilt. It was there that I really developed my craft, a strong eye for detail and an impeccable standard for quality. Everything was considered — no aspect too small. In 2013, I moved to Los Angeles to work for Environment Furniture, after which I spent a wonderful period with Lawson-Fenning. I gained a renewed appreciation for the joy and preservation of handcrafted, sustainable furniture.
Can you describe your approach to the creative process?
Like most designers, inspiration strikes me in the most random places. I’ll see an element of a form that I like then begin to conceptualize how I could incorporate it into a piece. I’m also drawn to asymmetry in my work as I find a bit of disruption to balance offers quite a bit of room for exploration in furniture design.
How would you describe Last Ditch Design’s style?
As a self-taught designer, I have developed my style over 27 years through practical observation and experimentation. I’ve always been driven to pursue an elevation of my craft. I explored stylistically in each phase of my career, beginning with my introduction to lodgepole furniture. That transitioned into my introduction to, and a period focused on, the Craftsman style of the Pacific Northwest. After that stage, I spent many years with Henrybuilt, where I developed a strong connection to the clean, minimal design and the richness of materials. My exploration culminated into a new fondness for midcentury and Scandinavian modern design from my time with Lawson-Fenning. Now, I’m much more inspired by a balance of minimalistic lines and functionality in my work, but a desire for imbalance and sculptural forms trails closely behind.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I’ll reference the furniture world endlessly for details, scale and function, but I often find myself looking for inspiration outside of that. I’m drawn to the geometric patterns of architecture as well as the organic nature of ceramics and jewelry. Clean lines and organic shapes are foundational elements in my work.
Do you have any favorite current design trends or influences?
Vintage Danish and Scandinavian pieces will forever be influential to my practice. I’m also finding a wonderful sense of inspiration via a range of ceramists now. Their ability to shape and sculpt beautiful, flowing forms leaves me to consider how I could manipulate the nature and scale of their work into a functional piece of furniture. I am in love with the graphic work of Heather Rosenman. Her objects are beautiful and, since I’m not able to add more furniture to my home due to space, I instead justify purchases of beautiful ceramics — although, having two cats makes that a worrisome venture in and of itself.
How have you seen the design industry shift in the past few years?
With the pandemic, we saw a huge resurgence of home goods sales. That does seem to be trending down now and it may come at a price for small U.S. makers as the industry has been flooded with cheaper fast furniture. These products aren’t intended to last over time and instead only suit a particular moment or need. My focus is on sustainable, heirloom design that’s built to last generations. I’d love for Last Ditch to be represented in the wave of vintage furniture for future collectors long after I am gone.
Looking to the future, what are you most excited about?
Honestly, after years of finding reasons not to pursue my own passions, I’ve reached a point where I’m proud of the work I’m creating. This collection is a representation of what inspires me and I certainly hope others also enjoy the thought and craft that goes into each piece. I’m a bit older than most starting a new endeavor, which is what inspired the name “Last Ditch,” but my career has prepared me with an extensive toolkit to reference. I’m excited about each and every opportunity that lies ahead on this journey.