Artists and craftsmen always find inspiration in their surroundings. For Peter Thomas Moosbrugger, inspiration was right under his feet—literally.
The Phoenix-based furniture maker is known for creating one-of-a-kind pieces crafted from wood, ranging from dining tables to built-in bookshelves. About 20 years ago, he was manufacturing reclaimed wooden floors.
“I fell in love with reclaimed wood and working with floors was my initial introduction to the material,” he explains. “But I wanted to exercise my creativity.”
Moosbrugger has always been fascinated by design and has been sketching since he was 5-years-old. He decided to make the leap to designing custom furniture under the name Peter Thomas Designs, and his first commissions came from the interior designers he had previously worked with.
“Most of the time, interior designers know what they want, and they’ll show me a reference picture as a starting point and we’ll take it from there,” he explains.
About 40% of the pieces Moosbrugger builds are with reclaimed wood that he sources from around the U.S., from old barns and churches to cotton mills dating back to the 1800s. When the wood arrives at his warehouse, it’s completely raw, and usually full of nail holes. Beams sourced from antique granaries often still bear the marks of the tools used to saw them by hand. It’s that raw material that provides the inspiration for Moosbrugger’s designs.
“People love it,” explains Moosbrugger’s daughter Madisen Meyers, who works alongside her father doing everything from business development to marketing. “There’s a sense of nostalgia and history with old wood.”
Moosbrugger continues to work closely with interior designers but also has commercial clients. He’s created tables, countertops, wall and ceiling treatments for companies ranging from Marriott hotels to restaurants and club houses like Paradise Valley Country Club, Mountain Shadows Resort and DC Ranch Country Club.
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His custom work inspired him to take a more ready-to-wear approach to his design, launching four Peter Thomas Designs collections last fall. The Cotton, Industrial, Beam and Parallel collections are crafted from reclaimed wood with industrial-style bases. The wood used in the Cotton line came from a beautifully preserved 1920s cotton warehouse in Tennessee. The tabletop is crafted from the reclaimed oak, while the base is metal.
“This organic collection speaks to our passion to blend historical beauty with modern elegance into timeless, artistic pieces,” explains Moosbrugger.
“When the visual warmth and beauty of solid wood is artistically sculpted around hard, cold metal, it becomes a visually stunning work of art,” says Moosbrugger.
Meyers grew up watching her father and the Peter Thomas brand and business evolve, and has a unique perspective on the entire design process of a custom piece. “It starts with seeing my dad start sketching after he’s been inspired by an element in nature and ends with the finished project. His style has evolved with trends in the industry, but still stays true to his original vision.”
Moosbrugger’s style gravitates towards clean, sculptural lines with a strong silhouette, while always showcasing the natural beauty of the wood.
Many of his pieces have an industrial look, which is offset by the warmth of the wood. Architecture is a major source of inspiration for the designer, as well as organic forms.
“I can be driving around town and see architectural inspiration,” Moosbrugger explains. “But right now I’m also working on a palo verde collection, which is inspired by the trees I see when I go hiking.”
Moosbrugger says he never gets tired of working with wood and the imperfections speak to him.
“As everything in our lives gets faster, the things that are old and solid really resonate with people. And in this era of fast, disposable everything, we’re creating heirloom pieces that will be in families for generations.”