Jeffrey Barninger of Union Shop Studio

Jeffrey Barninger of Union Shop Studio
Jeffrey Barninger of Union Shop Studio

Inspired by the city and feeling most at home in a “vibrant, energetic place,” Jeffrey Barninger chose Charlotte, North Carolina to explore his concept of the studio.  Starting Union Shop Studio was a way to create a community of artists and artisans who not only collaborated together but also inspired one another.  

Barninger, who is 34 years old, has had 15 years of experience making furniture and is a true inspiration. Prior to going out on his own, he taught furniture making and woodworking at a non-profit training program in DC.  But, his goal was to always work for himself.  Originally from Marietta, Pennsylvania, Barninger attended college in Savannah, Georgia and moved to Washington, DC, but in 2014 he decided to move to the Queen’s city.  “Charlotte is a city with great potential and opportunity,” a place where the growing maker/artisan movement can grow and flourish.

His philosophy is simple. Barninger explores the relationship between items and their user. “Through time, use, and ritual the objects we own gain meaning and impact our lives in often overlooked ways,” says Barninger. “When designing a piece, I consider the function, aesthetic and ritual, and how that impacts the end user. I also believe that every part of a piece is important whether it is seen or unseen, and the same care and attention should be given to every detail.”

Union Shop Studio Desk
One of Union Shop Studio’s beautiful desks

Working in wood, metals, and plastics, the material used varies piece-to-piece and is based on “client input, aesthetics, and functionality.”  What starts with a conversation leads to an idea of what the client needs and the desired style.  From there, Barninger creates several conceptual drawings which in turn are reviewed by the client and the direction of the piece is then finalized.  The entire process usually takes a few weeks.

When working with wood, Barninger enjoys using walnut and cherry.  “I like to use domestically sourced and locally sustainable harvested woods.  The shorter distance materials need to be shipped greatly reduces their carbon footprint.”  He creates all his pieces using 18th century methods with a “modern aesthetic.” Although he has a small line of products to sell, the majority of Barninger’s work is commission based.  “It has been a challenge at times, but I am lucky to have a wife who supports me and believes in what I am doing.  She has always been a great inspiration to me.” For further info about Jeffrey Barninger and the UnionShop Studio visit