Where Wood Meets Steel

It all started with a custom clothing rack. 

Ryan Dirksen, a chef by trade, had a woodworking hobby, a table saw, and a welder. He wanted to take on more ambitious projects, so when he spotted a Craigslist ad for a custom rack posted by Loft 22 (which had operated in downtown Denver on Larimer Square), he responded. That first steel rack led to another commission piece, this one a complete build-out for A Line Boutique in Greenwood Village. Among Dirksen’s creations for A Line, a large-scale arbor silhouette with arms of bent steel fabricated to resemble branches and roots, that included wood sourced from a crabapple tree from behind the original Denver home of Marina Chotzinoff, his wife.

Walnut-topped table with rolled steel legs. [Photo: Where Wood Meets Steel]
“The best thing about cutting open a tree is that every one in different. You never know what you’re going to get.” — Ryan Dirksen

Fast-forward 10 years and the couple—Chotzinoff has a Web design background—have grown their artistic talent and love of wood into a full-time business, Where Wood Meets Steel (WWMS).

The Twig table is part of WWMS's semi-custom line. [Photo: Where Wood Meets Steel]


Local Siberian Elm and rolled steel chair. [Photo: Miller Photographics]


Dirksen meets with clients, maintains relationships with vendors, and manages the day-to-day operations while Chotzinoff creates designs for many of the company’s bespoke pieces in addition to overseeing marketing and operational activities. Their warehouse space at 49th Avenue and Washington Street includes a staff of three: a metal fabricator and two woodworkers/designers to help turn wood slabs into beautiful custom furnishings.

[Photo: Julia Vandenoever]

[Photo: Julia Vandenoever]

The slabs above are for use in the warehouse and also available for sale. [Photo: Julia Vandenoever]


Most of WWMS woods are locally salvaged and repurposed hardwoods like maple, elm, and black walnut, which are milled on site. The reclaimed hardwoods (many felled due to disease or age) are paired with certified American-made steel, a recycled material itself. Sustainable practices appeal to WWMS’s client base of designers, architects, businesses, homeowners, and most recently the Children’s Museum of Denver (WWMS built, among other things, the welcome desk, gift shop counter, and outdoor tree posts for its new expansion project).

[Photo: Julia Vandenoever]

Leftovers from past projects. [
Photo: Julia Vandenoever]

Inspired by architecture and bridges, WWMS’s portfolio is also influenced by Dirksen and Chotzinoff’s love of clean, simple lines and, of course, wood. “Ryan sees things in the wood that speak to him” says Chotzinoff. Together husband and wife create pieces that tell that story. wwms.net

Into the Woods with Theresa Haberkorn
The (Apartment) Doctor is In

Categories: Furniture & Accessories