Icon Modern is Modernizing Custom Contract Furniture & Architectural Elements

Icon Modern has learned how to make custom products more accessible to designers by offering more versatile, sustainable materials and capabilities.

Icon Modern works with designers to create unique design solutions that reflect the “vibe” of each company. Featured here: urban oak tabletops with custom painted steel drum bases. Design: Partners by Design, Photo: Tom Harris Photography

What defines a classic design element? The team at Icon Modern takes a creative look at what from the past can inform what is new for the present with their custom furniture and architectural elements. Their innovative use of sustainable materials and incorporation of repurposed objects is re-defining the aesthetics for today’s well designed and purposeful spaces.

We asked the team at Icon Modern to describe their business model and how they approach their product development.

Icon Modern is modernizing custom contract furniture & architectural elements by combining traditional custom fabrication with today’s technology, design services and expansive material options. By simplifying the process, designers can more easily procure custom products while allowing for a more creative, free environment at the design level.

How do your products work with today’s drivers of workplace design?

The flexibility of a custom contract furniture solution is well-suited for today’s changing role of the workplace. Icon Modern is not confined to standard products or options like most traditional manufacturers. That makes us well-positioned to be a partner to designers as they explore how the next generation of spaces will function. We can start with a blank slate or provide thought-starters to make their vision come to life.

Custom solutions have the ability to embrace traditional pieces like tables and reception desks, but then continue that same design language across other categories like space dividers, planters, and even sanitizing stations, to name just a few. And all of these can be completely customized to each office’s needs.

An example of Icon Modern’s creative application of materials to create a steel framed space divider with polycarbonate infill panels. Design: Eastlake Studio, Photo: Kendall McCaugherty, Hall + Merrick Photographers

Building on the concept of the activity-based workplace – how do your products support these types of spaces?

Agile- and activity-based workplaces emphasize choice and autonomy for employees, while also designing for well-being and collaboration. And we know that each company will approach this differently. So as a custom solutions provider, we can fabricate very specific pieces that celebrate each client’s functional needs and design language.

Dividing Break-Out / Shared Areas

Our custom space dividers offer a creative way to separate different areas. We approach these as an artistic opportunity vs. standard plain dividers. Because everything is custom, we can incorporate many different features like acoustic panels, whiteboards, shelving or even brand colors and signage. We also can incorporate technology into unexpected places (like hiding a sub-woofer in a coffee table) or fabricate hand sanitizing stations that blend into the overall design.

Another example of Icon Modern’s creative solution for defining separate work areas within a larger open space. Design: Charlie Greene Studio, Photo: Chelsea Ross

Wellness / Quiet / Relaxation / Outdoor Areas

Our biophilic offerings (planters, plant walls or trellises, etc.) not only help bring nature indoors, but they can also act as acoustic noise reduction pieces, creating a relaxing or quiet environment when employees need an escape or break. Our upcoming launch of sustainable outdoor furniture aligns well with office spaces looking to the outdoors to support safety and overall employee well-being.

As offices include more outdoor settings, Icon Modern can create furniture that works outside as well as inside!

Collaboration / Small / Large Meeting Rooms

Our origins are in sustainable urban wood tables and they serve as the wow factor in both small and large meeting rooms, as well as collaboration areas. We divert trees that would otherwise go to landfill and handcraft them into beautiful custom tables. Sustainability serves as the foundation of our company and is weaved into everything we do.

An example of Icon Modern’s use of sustainable walnut with a live edge detail. The custom brass shelving is also fabricated by the Icon Modern. Design: Interior Architects, Photo: Tom Harris Photography

Can you tell a story or give an example of how this product or service will help our readers design and implement great workplace solutions?

Working with Icon Modern allows for total design freedom and a commonality of finishes across multiple product categories. We see the highest satisfaction from our clients when we help tie several spaces within an office together through our custom solutions. We help tell a company’s story through things like branding & signage, reception desks, space dividers, planters, tables and found objects.

Custom reception desk featuring urban oak, solid surface and hot rolled steel. Behind it: a branded wall fabricated with oak slats and over 400 back-lit acrylic rods. A hot rolled steel panel wall was also fabricated in another section of the reception area to compliment the reception desk & overall design. Design: OKW Architects

One project that comes to mind is a brand strategy agency. We partnered with the interior design firm to bring the reception area to life. The mixed-material reception desk consisted of oak wood, solid surface and hot rolled steel. We then fabricated other elements in the reception area with the same materials such as the branded wall behind it, installing oak slats with unique acrylic back-lit rods. We also fabricated steel panels for an accent wall. It really showcases how we can create a consistent brand story and design aesthetic for a workplace.

Where do you get the inspiration for your designs?

Our company was founded on the idea that custom furniture can both tell a story and support a mission. We saw thousands of trees destined for landfill and made it our mission to give those trees a second life as handcrafted furniture that lasts a lifetime. Each tree has a story to tell and our projects reflect that.

Because each tree is unique, each custom project reflects its own unique story and characteristics. This custom walnut table allows the natural beauty of the wood to shine. Design: Charlie Greene Studio.

And we continue that storytelling through our diversified portfolio of custom projects, collaborating closely with designers to bring each unique idea to life. The biggest compliment we get is when the favorite piece in a newly designed space is an Icon Modern installation. And we believe that’s because each piece emanates a creative, unique story. 

What innovations in use of materials or fabrication are utilized in the manufacture of your products?

As mentioned, our wood is all sourced locally from fallen trees that would otherwise end up landfill. We believe in supporting authentic sustainability in furniture fabrication. We are hyper-conscious of how our choice of materials speaks to our goals for not only custom design, but good stewardship of the earth’s resources. 

Innovative solutions: Oak tabletop with acoustic panel infill. Design: Charlie Greene Studio
Custom coffee table with oak slats, CNC’d top and metal mesh infill frame to house a sub-woofer. Photo: Ross Floyd Photography

However, as our custom capabilities have grown, designers can come to us with very unique requests, and we engineer an innovative solution. For example, to improve the acoustics in a conference room, rather than just sticking to traditional acoustic panels, we fabricated a round conference table with an acoustic panel infill. Another project required us to figure out how to house a sub-woofer in a coffee table without compromising the sound coming from the speaker. As we like to say, we love a good design challenge!

A year from now what would be the most exciting thing you could think of that you would find out about how the product has been accepted, specified, and installed in projects?

That designers and their clients view custom contract furniture as a powerful design tool and can be used regularly to help them achieve all of their workplace design goals without hesitation.

Are you currently accepting new projects?

Yes, we are always happy to engage with new (and returning) clients. Our outdoor furniture will be launching soon and available at the beginning of April.

What do you think our readers will love about Icon Modern?

There are three key things that we think your readers will find valuable when considering our capabilities for creativity and customization for their projects:

  • Our materials and capabilities offer endless, creative possibilities.
  • We make custom simple.
  • And we are committed to local, sustainable manufacturing.

Are there any other unique features that would interest our readers?

Found objects are another way we support our commitment to sustainability (and it’s also super fun for us!). We love working with designers and brands to incorporate unique stories through salvaged, historical or upcycled items. Their creative imaginations really take off when they learn about our capabilities in found objects.

For example, we took car hoods from old cars and made them into tables for GM. On another project, we refurbished an old Ferris Wheel chair as seating for a company in NYC. A heavy machinery manufacturer sent us tractor parts and we made them into table bases and wall art. With less time spent at the office moving forward, companies are looking for creative ways to reinforce the employee experience through branded design and storytelling.

Incorporating “found” objects into the design is one of our favorite challenges. This community table base was fabricated from a recycled scissor lift. Design: Eastlake Studio, Photography: Kendall McCaugherty, Hall + Merrick Photographers

Are you able to share any pricing information?

Because every piece is completely customized, our pricing varies widely. But one of Icon Modern’s core values is a total commitment to exceptional client service, so we go above and beyond to work within designated budgets. We are committed to price transparency. For more detailed information about our products, readers can check out our resources here, or give us a call or email us:

312 469 0788[email protected]

Where can our readers see examples of your products?

Our showroom in Chicago is now open (by appointment). We are located in West Town 346 N Justine St #100, Chicago IL 60607.

Learn more about Icon Modern:

Connect with Icon Modern:

Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest


This article was written in partnership with Icon Modern.

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