Design Upcycling

A Piece of Cleveland (APOC) – Upcycling Wood and Re-Making History

APOC – A Piece of Cleveland- is a design company that turns unwanted materials into furniture and other products.  The materials they use are from deconstructed buildings in the Cleveland area.  APOC partners with private owners and developers to professionally salvage Wood, glass, and metal from buildings that are being renovated or demolished.  These materials are then used to make new items that include tables, counters, cabinets, furniture, and other items.

“Upcycling” is a term for the process of repurposing old materials in new ways to increase their value.  APOC practices upcyling by using materials that would usually be thrown into a landfill, and give them a new purpose as furniture and other products. Behind APOC is the partnership and leadership of Chris Kious, the material recovery partner of the business and P.J. Doran, the designer/fabricator.

APOC uses environmentally-friendly stains, paints and finishes on all works, and also makes a “Re-birth certificate”  for pieces that explains the history of the materials of pieces which is often displayed on-site at businesses that have APOC pieces.

I heard P.J. Doran present at the Designers Accord Cleveland event earlier this Fall, and I was interested in learning more about APOC.  A couple of weeks ago, I went to two places that have APOC pieces – the Starbucks at Fairmount Blvd./Cedar Rd.,  and Nighttown on Cedar Rd.

At Starbucks, the counters and wooden tables were APOC pieces.  The tables ranged in size, and fit 2 to 10 people.  The tables looked like typical cafe tables, but the woodgrain and staining of the wood looked unique from other cafes.  Each table was subtly branded with the woodburned APOC logo – either under the table, or on the edge.

The Re-birth certificate on the wall at Starbucks listed the materials source as being from 2036 E. 71st St. and Stanard School.  The certificate states, “ The Standard School buildings sat empty for 25 years fell into such disrepair that it could not be saved.  In 2008, The City of Cleveland decided to deconstruct the structure and to recycle the historic buildings.  APOC was asked to assist in the coordination and recycling of these structures…The lot where Stanard school once stood will return to its agricultural roots, and will become a farm with youth programming, local produce, and become a attractive looking property.”

I went to Nighttown, just down the road on Cedar Rd., and talked to the Brendan Ring, owner of Nighttown,  about the APOC tables.  He showed me an experimental piece in the back, an outdoor table, that APOC is trying out and is in the corner of the patio, to see how it will weather.  The larger rooms at Nighttown have darker oak tables that have been there for a number of years.  The Moose room has some newer tables made from heart pine in the Moose room.

The heart pine tables have a unique look to them since they are made of the actual heartwood of the pine tree. Since pine trees used to be quite large when it was logged some hundred years ago, the pine trees were able to grow large enough to develop heartwood. Now that is not the case, as pine trees do not grow as big because they are harvested at an earlier age.

The Re-birth certificate stated, “Antique Heart Pine Tables for Nighttown, Material Source: Stanard School, 5360 Stanard Ave. Cleveland. “ The re-birth certificate had some facts about the school which included, “On June 3rd, 1964, Stanard School was hit by lighting and 350 students were evacuated from the building when the chimney fell.  Kind neighbors invited entire classes into their homes.”   The certificate also said that the school is reputed (but not confirmed) to be the site of the beginning of four-square.  I did some search on the web – and did not find any confirmation of this.

Ring told me about how great it is to work with APOC, and that there was a deconstruction project  by the City of Cleveland and APOC off of Euclid Avenue near Eddy Rd.  I drove over to the location and watched as a truck pulled off the site filled with stacks of wood.

If you want to see some of APOC pieces – you can check out images of pieces on their site, or check out the interactive map on their blog, which indicates locations of their work around Cleveland.  The map has been recently updated, and you can check out if a Piece of Cleveland is near you in Cleveland.  It might be at the coffee shop that you visit regularly.



APOC Sitings – Interactive Map



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