Photo by Tony Valainis
For Loran Bohall, death and taxes aren’t life’s only constants. There’s woodworking, too. As a child in Columbus, the fourth-generation furniture maker was surrounded by sawdust. “Everybody had a woodshop,” he says. “My aunts were woodcarvers, and my father built hammer dulcimers and did some luthier work.”
By the time he was a teenager, Bohall was already a part-time woodworker. Today, he runs Indy-based Bohall Design and Fabrication, which focuses on furniture for businesses. “It’s difficult for people to understand how much work goes into a piece of residential furniture,” he says. “I quickly realized if I was going to make a go of it, I needed to break into the commercial industry.”
Bohall’s pieces for offices and retail spaces sometimes feature live-edged lumber and other challenging elements. Many are large statement pieces. Bohall recalls forklifting a 10-foot-long, five-foot-wide conference table up to a third-story window for one client. “The wind caught the table, and it sat up on edge,” he says. “My heart froze. It could have dropped three stories. Luckily, one of my staff at the window got a hand on it and got it inside. But it was terrifying. A lot of these pieces are just so expensive even to produce.”
Custom pieces start at $1,500, but can easily reach five figures. Because his work has attracted interest from homeowners, Bohall recently began making a line of furniture for residential customers, too. “For somebody who doesn’t want to buy a $10,000 dining table, they can find a piece of furniture that we custom-make here,” he says.
No matter what he’s building, Bohall sources his wood sustainably from local lumber mills. Walnut, maple, ash, and oak are some of his standbys. Depending on the size and complexity of pieces, he mixes hand-building and machining. Whether it’s one of his enormous conference tables or a compact, midcentury desk, most of Bohall’s furniture has some distinctive element that people remember.
“I’ve been really lucky to have so much creative control,” he says.