Robby Golden, owner of Golden Coast Burls, has found a way to combine his passions for carpentry and environmentalism — he uses whole, felled logs to craft tables with surfaces that reveal a cross-section of a tree, like a diagram you’d find in a science textbook. While his creations can be found in homes and businesses, such as Foxen Winery, Golden’s mission reaches further than just making unique tables; eco-sustainability is his driving goal. To that end, for each table purchased, 10 trees are planted in deforested regions of the world through the nonprofit organization 8 Billion Trees.
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Golden’s commitment to sustainability also extends to his sourcing practices, as he only uses wood from trees already scheduled to be cut down for various reasons. For example, a family had a Bunya pine removed from their yard, Golden told me over the phone. The tree, which had covered their yard and was over 100 feet tall, had begun to drop 15-pound pinecones and the parents were afraid they would fall on their kids, so they cut it down. Golden took the felled tree, turned it into a dining table, and sold it back to the family.
In addition to felled trees, Golden uses found materials, like driftwood, that invoke the coastal spirit of Santa Barbara. And, despite the statewide lockdown, his business has actually seen an uptick in sales, mostly online. “I guess a lot of people are using the lockdown as an opportunity to do home redesigns,” he said.
As a teenager, Golden was interested in fighting climate change, so after high school, he left Los Angeles to study earth science and physical geography at UCSB. After graduating, he managed the construction of residential and industrial solar projects, as well as working in electric vehicle charging, until a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease forced him to stay home. While recovering, Golden took a dusty redwood burl that his grandfather, Robert, was using for a table in his living room and remade it into a thing of beauty. Golden gave the “new” table back to his grandfather for his 94th birthday. Delighted by his grandfather’s reaction, Golden decided to create Golden Coast Burls.
Golden Coast Burls is more than a business to Golden, but rather a legacy to his grandfather, who passed away the weekend before we spoke. “I do it for him,” Golden said.