Made At theCO with Zac Pankey

For this month’s feature of Made at theCO, we turn to a body of work rather than a specific project. Since this past August intern and artist Zac Pankey has made theCO’s makerspace his home, building not only ambitious projects for the collaborative community here (which includes a fully outfitted screen-printing studio) but also a number of pieces for his personal line of furniture.

With a desire to enrich the home with functional forms inspired by contemporary architecture and graphic design, Pankey has spent the better half of his undergraduate time at Union University studying sculpture and finding his own balance that any functional artist seeks. “It usually starts with necessity and sometimes inspiration. If it comes from a place of necessity, I will measure the space and begin sketching what will become the final piece. If it comes from inspiration, I will design the piece around a shape or idea I find particularly compelling or interesting. Both processes then enter the digital phase where I determine the precise dimensions of a piece.” Once the digital interpretation is captured, a building process that involves everything from welding steel supports together to applying wood sealant commences in theCO’s shop.

Pankey’s furniture follows a smart, modern design that implements clean lines and geometric shapes using contrasting mediums mediums–wood and steel–primarily to create simple, polished pieces that are still unquestionably pointed at functionality. Regardless of the décor he remains true to his artistic direction of simplicity, something that is very much congruent with his lifestyle as well. “I think the most significant influence on the aesthetic of my work is a personal desire for precision and simplicity. The calculated spirit of simplifying one’s life to the essentials is compelling.”

Like many others at theCO, Pankey has taken a strong personal interest to the small business platform and adjusted his approach to an entrepreneurial tune. At the beginning of this year he re-branded his line of furniture under the name Wheelhouse Trade Company and has extended his reach into new markets outside of Jackson, a moved that has been catalyzed by an increasing web presence (you can learn more about his story and latest pieces at their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages) that showcases his custom-made furniture and communicates the true value of having it in your everyday spaces. “It’s worth it. Having handmade work in and around your home is incredibly enriching. This is especially true when it was specifically designed to fit your home, your lifestyle, and your family.”


Written by Joseph Smith.

Photos courtesy of Hannah Russell.