TULSA – With an interest in furniture design for more than 10 years, Cherokee Nation citizen and architect Cray Bauxmont-Flynn is realizing the idea of creating custom furniture with his new business Amatoya, a furniture design firm.
Bauxmont-Flynn is an architect by trade with the Edmonson Flynn Group Design & Architecture firm, where he is principal owner and chief operating officer.
With Amatoya, his vision is to have Native American culture and artistry promoted in the production of the furniture line by adding cultural elements to the designs and names of the pieces.
“I had this idea that I wanted to create a Native American furniture design company and take aspects of our cultural elements, be it things that Native American tribes used every day and kind of reincorporate it and retranslate to furniture pieces,” Bauxmont-Flynn said.
He said its taking components of tools, names and artifacts to incorporate into the furniture. The furniture pieces include sofas, chairs, tables and cabinets. Glass and metal elements will eventually be introduced into the line.
For example, the Hiawassee cabinet is a wooden storage cabinet with a ripple effect carved into the front to represent moving water from the Hiawassee River.
“Hiawassee being a waterway that was very important to the Cherokee Nation and the tribes within that region,” he said. “That was our highway, I guess, of communication with each other. Then incorporating that into the cabinet. The front of the cabinet is actually hand-carved graphics that kind of represent the waterways of the river.”
The Echota nesting table is a set of three small triangular tables. The name Echota comes from New Echota, which is a historically significant site in Georgia to Cherokee people and where the forced removal of Cherokee people started in the 1830s based on the Treaty of New Echota.
“Echota being a place of regard for the Cherokee Nation,” he said. “Again, how do you make a place that’s a tangible object? When you look at a map, how maps are usually starred or identified by a triangle or a dot. Incorporating that into a piece and then creating the seven star points into the piece, into the nesting tables that are triangles.”
The company name, Amatoya, also derives from Cherokee history and culture.
Amatoya mean ‘rainmaker’ in the Cherokee language and Bauxmont-Flynn said through oral family history he is descended from Amatoya Moytoy, a chief in the 1600s.
“From my understanding through verbal family history we’re related to him,” he said. “So I wanted to create that name because it has significant value, and when it rains things grow. And I look at this company and this furniture line to teach others about our culture and history.”
He said the company is also working with Native artisans and craftsmen to design and create furniture pieces. “One of the components is working with Native American artisans and craftsmen because they have such limited access in sources to present their pieces that they do commissions for. So we want to make sure that we incorporate them into our line and have an outlet to present their pieces.”
Because Amatoya is working with local artisans and manufacturers, no furniture will be massed produced.
“We’re made right here in northeast Oklahoma through various manufactures that are very family-oriented,” he said. “So we won’t have enormous amounts of product going out and being displayed. We’re kind of made-to-order, very customizable.”
Amatoya is launching in the fall with at least 15 pieces in showrooms in the Dallas and Oklahoma markets. Bauxmont-Flynn said he is working toward having at least 70 pieces in the furniture line.
“We’re limiting our outreach to just the south-central showrooms, to be displayed in various showrooms,” he said. “So you’re not going to see our name globally. So I think the significant value is we’re U.S. made, we’re made right here in northeast Oklahoma and that we’re using local manufacturers doing quality work.”
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