Handmade Riot Creates Beautiful, Modern and Eco-Friendly Products for the Home

By: Taz Loomans

Nicole Whittington and James Waldron live in a small historic house in the Coronado Neighborhood of Central Phoenix. One day they needed shelves for their small house and they built these beautiful wood shelves shaped like a honey comb out of reclaimed wood. Their friends liked them so much, they asked if Nicole and James could build some for them as well. Pretty soon, there was so much demand for the honeycomb shelves, that Nicole and James decided to launch Handmade Riot, a company from which they sell handcrafted household items and furniture.

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James and Nicole have always loved to make things. James’s grandfather was a clockmaker who had his own wood shop. “I was always around it,” says James, “I’ve always loved building things.” Nicole says that Handmade Riot has allowed her to revert back to doing what she wanted to do as a kid. “Even when I tried to go on a more linear path,” she says, “it was always something I gravitated towards, which is making and being a maker.”

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While the honeycomb shelf is the flagship product of Handmade Riot, the crafty duo have come up with other creations for the small and modern home. “We like to create things that are functional but also bring a little bit of a bright spot to a home,” says Nicole. Though they keep their line of products limited for quality control, they’ve designed and handmade everything from a coffee table down to the coasters that go on the coffee table.

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The inspiration behind many of their products comes right from their own home, which is how the company began in the first place. They create products that would go well in their own small, midcentury modern home and have created quite a market for themselves this way. Geometric shapes, clean lines, and an honesty of materials are at the root of their desert modern aesthetic. Even the poppy accent colors they use are inspired by their personal preference in color, which is influenced by midcentury and contemporary modern design, such as turquoise, red-orange, mustard yellow and slate gray.

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Who’re Handmade Riot’s biggest customers? Surprisingly, though the design of their products is very much rooted in their Central Phoenix location, the majority of their clients come from all over the US. Using Etsy as a platform, the company has widened its reach, attracting moms who’re redoing their kid’s bedrooms, young professionals who are just starting out and live in small apartments, and college aged kids. Handmade Riot’s products come at a perfect price point to reach a variety of people, which is exactly what James and Nicole intended. “We want to provide something that is handcrafted but is approachable for most incomes,” says Nicole. A single honey comb shelf will cost you only $35, a set of three is $95 and a set of 5 is $150.

The simple lines and modern aesthetic are not the only things that make Handmade Riot products appealing to people. James and Nicole consciously keep their products eco-friendly and non-toxic. They use reclaimed materials whenever possible, either sourcing it from a local vendor who imports barn wood from the east coast or using found materials. “It’s pretty cool to work with old weathered wood, it has a lot of character in it,” says James. The duo also make sure to use only low-VOC, water-based, formaldehyde-free finishes on their products, which make them a perfect fit in buildings with green certifications as well as in toxin-free environments like children’s bedrooms.

James and Nicole will be celebrating their company’s incredible success and one year anniversary in a big way. On September 20 (Third Friday), Handmade Riot will have a show at the Palabra Art Collective on 702 N. 7th Street from 7pm to 10pm. The show will feature honeycomb shelves painted by local artists, including Breeze Marcus, Hello Mikey, Niki Rose Noriega, Sammy Black, Sarah Hurwitz, Spencer Hibert, and Tedd Roundy. This will be your chance to check out these two artisan’s fantastic products embellished by seven different artists.

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We love Handmade Riot’s unique, beautiful, and affordable handcrafted goods. Their colorful, tasteful and eco-friendly products go well in both small and large homes, and both historic and new environments. This homegrown Phoenix company is one to watch, as their products become more and more well known around the country and even internationally, and they continue to make gorgeous products and furniture for residential and commercial environments.

You can order Handmade Riot products from Etsy right here.

Photo Credit: All photos by Emily Burch and courtesy of Handmade Riot

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