Tandem Made is Nate and Erin Moren. They craft beautiful custom furniture pieces, small home objects and accessories, as well as sculpture, jewelry, and other beautiful and useful pieces of art in their Northeast Minneapolis studio. The husband and wife team are makers first and foremost – we talked to Erin Moren about the aesthetic, process, and Minnesota roots of Tandem Made.
Nate Moren grew up in Eden Prairie, Erin is from New Hope. Tandem Made embodies everything good about shopping local, shopping small: their pieces are high quality, one of a kind, and beautiful. What isn’t small is their range. From the rustic-modern sliding barn doors and ultra sleek wine room installations in their portfolio, to the Dotted Lines accent bowl and Richlite bottle opener on their webshop, the variety of their useful objects is vast. It’s especially impressive when you take into consideration the cohesiveness of the aesthetic and feeling throughout all of Tandem Made’s work.
They met in the woodshop at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. “We always knew we wanted to work together,” Erin said. Nate already had a degree in cabinet making when they met. After graduating from MCAD, they got married. They spent some time in Chicago, while Erin attended Columbia University, but the plan was always to come back to Minnesota. They worked in a shared workshop for a while, up until three years ago, when they moved into their own design/build studio. One thing Erin kept returning to is the relationships they’ve built here. Tandem Made has partnerships built in trust with their go-to vendors. Youngblood Lumber and Discount Steel, both in Minneapolis, are mainstays. They’ve used them since they were at MCAD. They also had local support in building the brand – their website was developed by Tyler Stefanich and their logo was designed by Justin McKinley, both MCAD alumni.
Every facet of the duo works in tandem. They work in the studio together designing and creating. Erin is organized, and good with timelines. Nate is a problem-solver, and is strong when troubleshooting tools and materials. The custom projects fully intertwine the client in the process, too. Tandem Made starts with the design needs of the client before moving onto budgets and timelines. They share material samples and meet in the client’s space to see and feel where the object will live. The materials themselves both contrast and complete each other within a single piece. By enveloping them in the process start to finish, the custom piece client experiences the joy that Erin and Nate feel when a project comes to fruition.
Tandem Made is all about their materials. Erin Moren taught an experimental materials course at MCAD. They execute artful mixing of wood and metal, and they use innovative materials like Richlite (a sustainable paper composite that is used for anything from aerospace manufacturing to skateboard ramps) as well as other unique woods. Alongside their mainstay vendors, Erin cites Logs to Lumber Co., in Inver Grove Heights, who does live edge wood. Collaboration is inherent to their process of an object coming to life. Tandem Made noted Wood From the Hood, a wood supplier in Minneapolis, that reclaims local urban trees that have been removed. “So, if you have a tree in your front yard that has to get cut down, they’ll take it down for you,” Erin said, “and we can make you a dining room table out of it.”
The aesthetic of Tandem Made is another aspect that Erin and Nate grew into together. It is clean, simple, functional. Their mid-century modern feel is influenced by the couple’s time spent in Copenhagen; the Scandinavian feel is evident in the thoughtful design, efficient simplicity, and appreciation of beauty in everyday objects. Naturally, Erin was also inspired by her grandparents’ house growing up – “It was a mix of old and new.”
Tandem Made is growing. Expanding into smaller home goods is an exciting move for the company. Their web store pieces like the Tandem photo Frame, the Tandem Coaster Set, and the Rooftop Candle Holder are shockingly accessible in price given the elevated style. For most of us, it is the small, daily objects in our lives that we become sentimentally attached to. It’s the necklaces and knives of our ancestors that are now in museums. The attachment of beautiful, crafted design with pragmatic execution is inherent to Tandem Made’s maker sensibility. It also answers a question that can be hard to ask: how can we buy thoughtfully? How can we acquire with intention? To get something that is useful and that speaks to you – and that was built with some soul – is the place to start. “We put time and hard work into our custom pieces because we know our clients did too.” They want your objects to feel at home in their new homes.
Midwestern work ethic is an idea that we kept coming back to – and that Erin laughed about when we brought it up. “Nate once had a boss who said, ‘I love people from Minnesota. They work so hard.’” And it’s true. Tandem Made is always expanding, and they’re always waiting for the next client with their own voice to collaborate with and create something entirely unique, something with its own life. Thanks in no small part to those Minnesota roots, Erin said “Tandem Made is always questioning. We’re always making things better.”
For Tandem Made, it’s the marriage between the aesthetic and emotion of their client with the aesthetic and emotion of their own, as artists. Tandem Made has reached that sweet spot as artists where they create for others and they create for themselves. From the woodshop in college to their line of branded goods, the Tandem Made story is nothing short of inspiring to any creative. The husband and wife thrive with constantly evolving ideas. Ideas oscillate and grow like a child. They are working, always: and in a job, based in creation, it can’t be any other way. “We are always doing the work,” Erin says, “It’s our life.”