What started as a hobby several years ago has grown into a small business for Brian Amaral, owner of Water Ski Adirondack Chairs in Kingston, R.I. As its name implies, the company offers customizable Adirondack-style seating designs crafted from vintage water skis. With business picking up, Amaral has added various ottomans, tables, bookcases, wine racks and shelves to his product line.
Amaral’s furniture creations put a twist on the idea of ski furniture, as ski-inspired Adirondack chairs have long been popular at mountain resorts and vacation spots. He grew up on Johnson’s Pond in Coventry, R.I., where he developed an affinity for the water and all things related to it, which explains the root of his design ideas. He later attended the University of Rhode Island, graduating with a master’s degree in ocean engineering, and is currently pursuing a second master’s degree there in oceanography.
While in college in 2008, he made his first water-ski chair as a Christmas gift, which led to more chair requests from family and friends. Two years later, he decided to start his business, building several pieces from scratch and exhibiting them at local craft shows such as Providence’s One Way Gallery and the Providence Fine Furnishings Show.
“Even though it’s a business, it’s more like a hobby because I don’t generate much income. I’m still a full-time college student. It’s a way to pay for my materials. But I think there’s potential for this to grow in the future. I want to finish my schooling in oceanography right now,” says Amaral.
In addition to the craft shows, Amaral has gained publicity from local news media and his website. He has received calls from across the U.S. and has sold one item to a client in Scotland. Many of his inquiries come from water-ski enthusiasts who even prefer to ship him their own water skis for custom projects. The pieces are built with oak, hardware and high-gloss finishes. They range from $600 to several thousand dollars each depending on the design and whether the material has been furnished by the customer.
“I think there’s a market for my product. The price point for the Adirondack chairs is pretty high because it’s a costly item to build. So by expanding that product line into benches and other items, I can offer more affordable pieces,” he says, adding that he’s currently redesigning his existing chair line with folding backs to make them easier to transport.
Contact: Water Ski Adirondack Chairs, P.O. Box 2003, Kingston, RI 02881. Tel: 401-285-1572. www.waterskiadirondackchairs.com
This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue.