The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Upper West Side Economist Moonlights as Furniture Designer

By Leslie Albrecht | December 23, 2011 6:58am
Tunisian tile on the doors of a cabinet designed by Eugene Sarver.
Tunisian tile on the doors of a cabinet designed by Eugene Sarver.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

UPPER WEST SIDE — Eugene Sarver likes his furniture the way he likes his economic policy — streamlined and efficient.

Sarver, an international economist who moonlights as a furniture designer, said that good design, like a good fiscal blueprint, can mean the difference between success and failure.

"Economics is about optimally allocating scarce resources," Sarver said, adding that when he designs furniture, "I'm optimally allocating space resources to make the best use of the space."

Sarver, who is in his 60s, is a part-time global marketing director at FX4casts, company that forecasts foreign currency values for multinational corporations and banks. But he uses his spare time to design furniture, accumulating upwards of 40 pieces in his West 97th Street apartment over the past few decades.

The foyer contains a "message center" — a stand where he can jot down phone messages — and a lighted cabinet that shows off mementos from travels abroad. His 1990 book, "The Eurocurrency Market Handbook" sits in a bookcase that he designed.

Sarver got into furniture design in his 20s, when he was studying at the University of North Carolina. A friend spotted his large pile of books and offered to build him a bookcase using Sarver's design. Sarver liked the process of creating the piece, so he kept at it. Next he tried another bookcase, then a mahogany stereo cabinet that he sold.

Over the years he estimates that he's designed about 55 pieces of furniture. He's given away some, and sometimes sells his work on Craigslist when he wants to make room his apartment for a new piece. Sarver draws his designs on paper with a pencil and ruler, then hires cabinetmakers to build the pieces. Depending on the complexity of the furniture, it takes roughly a month to build.

Some of the pieces showcase Sarver's travels to dozens of countries. The oak credenza he designed for his dining room is decorated with tiles he picked up in Tunisia; the "plant table" he created for his living room has replicas of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

He said his design skills are especially handy in New York City, where every inch of space counts.

"In New York, apartment space is scarce. You want pieces to exactly fit to make maximum use of the space."