Walking into the shop, your senses take over with the smell of freshly sanded lumber, the sound of woodworking and the sight of customized craftsmanship waiting to be taken home. Benevolent Design Co. builds handmade reclaimed wood furniture meant to last a lifetime. As unique as the tree it was salvaged from, no one creation is the same.
Owner Patrick Ryan is big-hearted and exudes every form of the word benevolent. You will see this in every detail of his thoughtfully designed and handcrafted furniture. “We create high-quality furniture that can be passed down from generation to generation.”
We spent time with Patrick rewinding the clock to hear how Benevolent Design Co. (BDco.) began as well as moving forward how it hopes to continue providing the community with unique furniture to be enjoyed for years to come.
How It All Began
Patrick has been hands-on since he was young. At 6 years old, his dad handed him a paintbrush to help him refresh the walls of their den. Patrick laughs, “He asked me to go around the baseboards and to carefully paint within the lines. I did it perfectly straight and my dad never picked up a paintbrush again.” This led to more home projects such as laying tile and repairing light fixtures. Naturally dexterous, Patrick continued to hone his handy-man skill set with bathroom remodeling and fence contracting.
As he got older, he found his way into the surfing industry for nearly 12 years as a sales representative for brands such as Reef, Rusty and Skull Candy. “I was building the massive wall displays for these brands and was winning contests across the country,” Patrick explains. It is inevitable; the knack to create things with his hands couldn’t escape him.
He continues, “A friend of mine came to me one day and said he needed a kitchen table. Right after that, I ran into Josh Canada (the two grew up together and attended James Madison University), who mentioned he was opening a brewery.” Their conversation grew into the idea of Patrick building tables for Josh’s brewery, Back Bay Brewing Co. which later expanded with a sister brand, Farmhouse Brewing Co. Patrick thought, “This is an opportunity. I can go after this.”
As he embarked on his entrepreneurial pursuit, he excelled with the knowledge and experiences gained from his previous jobs. Patrick says, “I got an education and learned valuable philosophies from the brands and reps in the surf industry.” He continues, “From a marketing perspective, I learned the more spots [our furniture] can be in around town the better. It is really how I’ve gotten from the garage shed I started in to where we are now.”
The workshop is located in the ViBe Creative District at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront in a building that was originally where WRV Surf Shop shaped their surfboards.
The Benevolent Design Co. Experience
From coffee tables and barstools to cutting boards and mirrors, every piece the BDco. team creates is custom-designed to represent you and your space and to stand the test of time. “If you think about your house… it is a direct reflection of who you are. [Our furniture] helps people create unique spaces and make their home or business stand out.” With a moment of pause, Patrick says, “That is the thing I really like to give people.” These pieces will become a part of your story and a cornerstone for memories with family and friends.
In the Design
The inspiration behind BDco.’s designs is stripping things back to the core and keeping the look minimalistic. “You could call it a Steve Jobs-esque way of thinking but I like to eliminate all the buttons and minimize things. The wood is so pretty; I do not need to add ornate details or overdesign,” Patrick explains. When starting a project, he always asks himself how they can make each piece timeless.
The History Behind the Grain
Patrick sources quality lumber himself from old barns in nearby cities such as Creeds and Suffolk, which is where the materials came from for the tables and chairs at Back Bay Brewing Co. and Esoteric restaurant. Here is where the storytelling begins. When you bring home a BDco. table or sit on a BDco. barstool at a local restaurant, you can imagine the life these materials had before and know it was made handmade with care right down the road. “I am so proud to be able to tell people exactly where the wood came from that was built into their furniture,” Patrick says.
BDco. only uses reclaimed wood for its pieces as giving back to our Earth is rooted in everything they make. Patrick lights up when he shares how there are so many natural resources in our surroundings for us to salvage and reuse without having to cut down trees and invade our forests.
New Line from New York
Earlier this year, he traveled to Manhattan, New York to pick up truck loads of Eastern Pine. This will soon become a collection called 66 Clinton Street, named after the location of the warehouse it originated from. Keep your eyes on their Instagram and subscribe to their e-newsletter to be the first to know about the release.
Proudest Moment & Biggest Obstacle
Patrick’s proudest moments come to him when he sees a customer’s expression as they see their furniture for the first time. “Every single time a customer comes in and picks up a table, there is a look of excitement that comes across their face,” he shares. These are the subtle and joyful reminders that what BDco. does is special and so appreciated.
The toughest obstacle he encounters is his mind. “We all have a fear of not being good enough and this applies to the business side of the world too,” Patrick says. He is in tune with his thoughts and feelings and articulates them in such a way that resonates with so many people.
Advice for Aspiring Business Owners
“I used to say jump straight in, but I wouldn’t say that anymore,” Patrick says with a smile. He continues with a story, “I heard a guy talking about how there are three eight-hour periods in a day. Stick with your 9-5 job. You have 16 remaining hours in the day to hustle. From there, build your hustle up to where it meets your day job, but don’t quit your day job.”
He elaborates and mentions it is important for your business idea to focus on a need or solve a problem. “You need to understand [your business] is not about you and it is not about the product; It is all about solving your clients’ needs.”
How to Experience All That Benevolent Design Co. Has to Offer
Explore their website to see their beautiful work. If you are interested in placing a custom order, submit your information on the request form to get in touch with the team and begin collaborating on a design.