One of the best things about being asked to be a part of the Sunset Reimagined Home last spring wasthe artists and designers’ works that I had the honor of featuring. I was particularly hunting for that one piece that would have the biggest impact in the home office: the desk! I wanted it to be a piece of mastery, something that would make people’s jaws hit the floor {and be something I wish were in my own home!} Thankfully, I found the shop that would provide me with just that: Monroe Workshop.

Monroe Workshop is a design shop based out of Los Angeles, run by head designer Matt Monroe. They specialize in made-to-order, beautifully hand crafted furniture. The wood work that goes into each piece is unmatched as far as I’m concerned. The wood is the silkiest, most velvety surface you’ll ever touch and the deep, rich, organic grooves of the grains are beyond amazing.

Matt and his wife Jen invited us into their LA studio for a behind the scenes look at the process and exclusive sneak peeks at their new designs. We also had the pleasure of seeing three Monroe Workshop pieces in a client’s beautiful home! Of course, we also had to pick Matt’s brain on his sources of inspiration and business advice {the shop was just launched last year – crazy success!}. I’m quite confident you’re going to be as inspired as we were!


First, for those of you who weren’t able to see it in person, we’d like to introduce you to the the Independence Desk above that I used in the  Sunset Office! It currently sits in the studio’s showroom amongst some amazing pieces, including the wall of fans sculpture Matt sledded to the Continental Divide in 2008. So seriously good.

The Amarillo Slab Dining Table is just as fabulous. The brass-plated bug like legs are quite the glamorous touch.


Wood work is kind of a lost art. Tell us a little bit of how you got into it and the start of Monroe Workshop.

This company feels like a natural progression for me. I always liked building things as a kid. During high school I started working in construction and after college I worked for a high end furniture company (BDDW) in New York for several years. Eventually, I went on to study sculpture in graduate school and got my MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art. I find carpentry very satisfying and making fine art creatively challenging. Hand making fine furniture allows me to enjoy both. 


Your pieces are so unique and thoughtfully crafted. Where do you find your inspiration? 

I’m inspired by midcentury modern classics and the Arts and Crafts movement. I love the work of California woodworker Sam Maloof. A lot of high end furniture is formal and serious and I try to create pieces that are more fun to interact with, so people are more comfortable using them in everyday life. I’m also influenced by the neon world we live in and like to pop in an unexpected color.


Starting your own business is a challenging process. It’s about a lot of decision making and risk taking. Did you have a sink or swim moment? 

I did custom work building other people’s designs for several years and for me to go out on my own with a furniture line was a big leap. Having the rocking chair featured in Dwell was a nice, validating moment.

After taking that leap, what has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about running your own business? 

Everyone probably says this, but it’s harder than I expected. It’s really tough balancing the creative work of designing and building each piece with running and developing the business. I keep ruining my laptop by getting too much sawdust in the keyboard.


Your beautiful wife Jen helps you run the business. What’s it like working with your life partner? How do you keep the balance? 

I wish I had Jen full time but she’s a film producer with a busy career that she loves. She’s been a huge part of starting the business and I couldn’t have done it without her support and creative input. It’s a whole family affair – our kids love coming to the shop and have been (safely) playing with tools since they were babies!

With all of your success and looking back, what advice would you give your 25 year old self? 

Sleep now, while you still can! With starting a business and two kids under 3, no one gets much sleep around here.


So what’s next for Monroe Workshop?? They’re constantly coming up with new inventory and are working on pieces to sell at a range of different price points. Matt gave us a sneak at the current designs he’s working on!

One of Matt’s simply spectacular designs is this solid walnut dining chair with a beautifully sculpted seat and equally gorgeous joinery work. It’s absolutely stunning. I’m also incredibly excited about the blue trimmed slab tabletop. It’s the first piece in their “Fake Slab” line. Instead of being made from a single found slab, an incredibly rare thing, they have engineered a way to make plywood have the same sculpted edges and organic look at a lower price point! Genius. I can’t wait to see the final piece!


Isn’t all of this work incredible??

I want to thank Matt and Jen so much for inviting us into their world.I am so honored to have had the opportunity to feature their designs! You have to check out their entire site here.

original photography for apartment 34 by Kat Harris // images 3-5, 7-10, 16 via Monroe Workshop // photography by Laure Joliet

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Wow—this craftsmanship is beautiful. I absolutely love this style. My boyfriend would love this shop—sending this too him right away!

  2. I am having a friend make a table from walnut and i am looking to do brass legs. Kinda like you brass plated insect legs. Or something similar. Not sure if you can sell me some or point me in a good direction. We live in napa. Happy to provide wine in return too.