By Gregory Daurer | May 30, 2016
Interior Design for Brewpubs
Though a non-brewer himself, Fast reads beer blogs "religiously" and feels simpatico with the craft brewing scene. His passion for that world led him away from building window displays, fixtures, and installations for Urban Outfitters in Cherry Creek and towards pursuing his present line of work. Fast says, "I decided that's what I was going to do, a few years ago: I was going to build taprooms.”
For various clients, Fast has executed tables, wall displays, bars, taster trays, flight paddles, tap handles, check presenters, and firkin hammers.
At Denver Beer Co., Fast built the outdoor tables in a similar size to the brewery's previous ones, incorporating sturdier teak wood and 11-gauge steel. Fast says the tables need to be able to "stand up to the elements." Plus, he adds, "We wanted them really heavy so people couldn't carry them away."
For WestFax Brewing Company, Fast's design work includes the tables and the bar, as well as, on one wall, a pyramid-like mountain scene made mostly out of pallet wood. Although laid-out flat on the wall's surface, the design has the illusion of popping-out three dimensionally. Fast says, "I've had more compliments on that than just about anything I've done."
Tristan Chan, the marketing manager at Ratio Beerworks, says that Fast does "tremendous work." One elongated table of Fast's at Ratio is bordered on top by locally sourced walnut, with a concrete inlay (matching the brewery's existing concrete bar) running through the middle of the table's surface.
Chan says of Fast, "I think his work really reflects our brand and our ethos. You can see that in the tables created here, the benches, and this iconic kind of wall display. It all brings the taproom experience together for us." And how would Chan describe the brewery's ethos, which he believes is a compatible fit with Fast's designs? Chan says Ratio brews "traditional styles, but all with a unique twist."
Fast uses a similar descriptor: “I always have a modern twist on my things.”
Fast's vibrant aesthetics are also embedded within the household and furniture items that he markets on Etsy and at local markets like the Denver Flea. There are mixed-wood, laminated cutting boards ("I just like the contrast between colors and grain differences," says Fast of his woodwork), lamps, clocks, coffee tables, coasters, children's furniture, and "Thor hammers."
Fast describes them as having wooden heads, and handles made from onetime racecar axles. He explains his sourcing of the latter material, which fits in with his sustainability mantra: "My father-in-law is a racecar mechanic, and so he lets me dig through his scrap pile."
"I like to try to take things -- like doorstops -- and make them beautiful," says Fast, who studied industrial design at the Art Institute of Colorado, and who received a 2015 "Best of Denver" award from Westword. "Just because it's functional doesn't mean it has to be ugly. You don't have to look at this ugly piece of rubber that's sitting by your front door all the time. It can actually be its own beautiful, little thing."
Challenges: Lining up new customers has been one of the biggest challenges. "Most of the times, it's cold-calling the owners and asking them if they want to sit down and talk," says Fast. "And most of the time I get totally ignored, which is fine. The sales part is definitely the hardest thing for me as a business owner, and I used to take it so personally and it just hurt my feelings. And I realized, quite a few years ago, that it isn't personal, and I need to get used to people saying no."
But now, with word of mouth increasing, business is moving quite a bit faster for Fast. "Things are rolling in faster than I can keep up with at this point. Which is nice -- at least the interest. They don't pull the trigger all the time. I have people coming out of the blue, just asking me for all kinds of random stuff. It's a good problem to have: that you have to say 'no' to projects or put them on a waiting list."
Opportunities: If he's able to hire some employees, it will give Fast the time to focus on the creative projects he enjoys best. "I really enjoy commercial spaces, actually," he says. "I think if I had to pick one thing to focus on that's what I'd do."
Plus, there are those tap handles he's just done for two Orlando, Florida-based breweries (which share, in a unique business plan, the same space): "I'm getting a little cross-country exposure."
Needs: Bringing others on board at Fast Industries. "I think the next step is hiring a couple of employees to do more of, for a lack of a better word, the 'grunt labor,'" says Fast. "And things like accounting and marketing -- things that I don't really know what I'm doing, and I don't enjoy doing."