April 9, 2007

Delano’s Clay Rammage wins national design contest

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

Clay Rammage of Delano could spend a lot of time sitting around – literally.

At his home on Maplewood Drive, he has many chairs that he has reupholstered and refurbished over the past few years.

His hobby of taking dilapidated pieces of furniture some may see fit for the dumpster, and turning them into pieces fit for a king, led him to receive national recognition for a chair he designed himself.

Rammage won the first-ever Create a Classic design challenge, when a chair he designed was displayed in Las Vegas, and received the highest number of votes for the top honor.

“I can’t believe this happened to me,” Rammage said. “I’ve never seen any of my designs actually made to scale so this is very emotional for me.”

He began designing and sketching ideas about a year and a half ago, and said he has always loved and been fascinated by furniture.

About 20 years ago, Rammage took an 11-week upholstery class in his home state of Nebraska that initially got him started on his way to becoming an award-winning designer.

“It was one night a week for 11 weeks,” Rammage said. “That got me started. I’ve been doing it for family and friends for many years.”

Rammage and his wife, Cindy, moved to Delano in 2003. For Cindy (Shoutz), it was a homecoming, as she grew up in Delano.

Prior to coming to Delano, the couple lived in Nebraska and in Chicago. Rammage’s full-time job is working as an accountant for an insurance company, based in Chicago.

He presently telecommutes, and said he works with a sister company to that agency that has an office in Brooklyn Park. He has worked at the company for the past 13 years. He and Cindy have one daughter, Cassie, who is 12 years old and a student at Delano Middle School.

His inspiration for his award-winning design came from watching old movies from the 1930s and 1940s which displayed pieces from the Art Deco era.

Rammage submitted two sketches to the contest by July 31 of last year, and by the first part of September, he found out he had been selected as one of three finalists by a committee of designers, architects, and magazine editors.

From there, the prototype was produced that was displayed for the Las Vegas show, which took place the last week of January. The Rammages went to Las Vegas for three days to participate in the show.

“That was our first time,” Rammage said about going to Las Vegas. “It was a unique experience for us. It’s not someplace that we would naturally go for vacation, but it was fun to go see stuff.”

Not being a big gambler, he said with a laugh that he tried gambling $4 – and lost $4.

The furniture show took place at the World Market Complex, which is located in the heart of the city. California-based Selamat Designs sponsored the design competition.

“The voting was extremely tight throughout the week, but in the end, Clay’s chair claimed victory and we couldn’t be more pleased,” said Selamat Designs President Thatcher Davis. “Many of the buyers in attendance were already asking when they could place orders, and we anticipate a great demand.”

Rammage said the two people he competed with were professional designers, and he was the amateur of the bunch. This was his first time entering a design contest.

“I’m still in shock,” he said.

Even with an award-winning design under his belt, Rammage said the design and upholstery work is just a hobby right now. He did start his own part-time upholstery business a little over a year ago called 3C’s Upholstery.

Rammage goes to auctions or garage sales and buys dilapidated old pieces to turn into works of art, and restore life to them.

He said his restoration projects take anywhere from two to about 10 hours, not counting the woodwork parts of the project.

“Wood takes longer to dry,” he said. “There’s a lot of factors involved.”

In the winter months, Rammage works in his basement, and in the summer, he gets outside in the garage. When he works in the garage, another hobby of his sits close by – a restored 1941 Packard car that he enters in some shows, and puts miles on in the summer months.

Rammage said when he is at auctions or garage sales, he looks for pieces that will allow him to try different things, and expand his horizons.

For more information about Rammage’s designs and upholstery work, call (763) 972-0002.

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