It’s Only Natural attracts a unique crowd. Maybe our obscure location weeds out the boring people, or maybe we’re just lucky. Who knows. Whatever the reason, ION tends to be filled with interesting people, and it’s what makes the restaurant so special.
From the downright weird to the outright amazing, you IONites are an interesting bunch. Today’s post introduces you to one of our favorite friends of ION: Ted Esselstyn of City Bench.
Ted , or as I call him behind is back, the “tree whisperer,” makes one-of-a-kind furniture from fallen trees. City Bench started just about two years ago, with the original mission being “to connect people to objects in meaningful, even soulful ways.” They like their peanut butter extra crunchy. Ted and Zeb Esselstyn, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, are the green forces behind this mission.
Ted has been an artist for years, creating memorable pieces for children’s museums, nature centers, public libraries, hospitals, and other places where whimsical art is appreciated. Zeb has an eclectic background in the fields of art, journalism, advertising, and music, among other things. Based on his work history, I imagine Zeb to be like the cat who turns around in circles three times before deciding on the perfect place to settle down. Luckily, he chose wisely, because City Bench is pretty amazing.
The idea to create furniture from fallen trees came to Ted while he was working on a trash museum in CT. Feeling inspired to incorporate sustainability and preservation into his work, Ted began creating furniture from locally sourced urban street trees. Practicality and aesthetic beauty are only part of the appeal, as each tree has a story to tell, offering a connection to the community from which it came. Ted and Zeb work in collaboration with local artists, and their customers range from homeowners to theaters to universities.
City Bench’s work is unique, artistic, and meaningful. It’s Only Natural proudly displays (and uses) several City Bench tables, so stop by and see them in person! Or visit City Bench’s website and Facebook to see pictures of their amazing work, and give them a shout if you see something you like. They also just opened a showroom in Higganum at the Scovil Forge, with hours by appointment, and they’ll be opening another in July in New Haven’s 9th Square on lower Crown Street.
Aside from the greatness I’ve already mentioned, there’s two more things we cannot overlook about City Bench. One, they’ve finally answered the age old question “if a tree falls in the woods and nobody’s around, does it make a sound?” Answer is yes, they tell stories. Secondly, they found a way to make a living doing what they love, and that’s an enormous accomplishment. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- let’s all quit our jobs today and open niche start-ups.