The City Magazine Since 1975

Retro Chic

Retro Chic
April 2019

North Charleston’s Saint Joe Woodworks builds mid-century modern furniture

John Cook and Frank Zanin, along with their team, build custom cabinetry in their North Charleston workshop.

Two accountants and longtime friends decide to start making furniture together as a hobby...and just over three years later, they find themselves with three employees, a 3,000-square-foot woodworking facility, and a growing demand for their custom wood designs.

That’s the story behind Saint Joe Woodworks, the North Charleston-based furniture company that John Cook and Frank Zanin started back in 2015. Today, their team creates everything from high-end residential cabinetry to a set of “toadstool tables” for the S.C. Aquarium.

Although St. Joe builds furniture in many different styles, many of their pieces have a mid-century modern look—and that retro feel is reflected in their workshop, too. Along with high-tech tools, Zanin and Cook use equipment built in the 1950s. “They do require some tinkering,” says Cook, “but it’s hard to beat their quality.”

Eventually, Cook and Zanin would like to develop their own line of ready-to-buy stock pieces, but for now, they’re enjoying the challenge custom orders present. “We’re very particular about detail and quality,” Zanin says. “We realize we can’t quite get to ‘perfect,’ but we certainly get as close as we can.”


Photographs courtesy of St. Joe Woodworks