TIP Double Planter Benches provide function and beauty for exterior and interior built environments.   Product Details

Product: TIP Double Planter Bench
Producer: Trade Institute of Pittsburgh
Designer: Bones and All

Project Overview

Monmade facilitated an innovative carpentry design partnership between the nonprofit organization Trade Institute of Pittsburgh (TIP) and regional producer Bones and All. Katie Schaible, Director of Monmade, identified Bones and All to design a viable new product for TIP carpentry students to produce during its vocational training program that offered the possibility to generate revenue to support its mission. The result is planter benches made from sustainable materials built by TIP students available for design and development projects.

The Trade Institute of Pittsburgh and Monmade, an initiative of Bridgeway Capital, are connected by each organization’s mission-driven focus to create economic opportunities in underserved areas. TIP is a tenant at Bridgeway Capital’s 7800 Susquehanna Street in Homewood—a once-industrial building that now serves as a hub for manufacturing, makers, small businesses, nonprofits, and job training. At its 7800 Susquehanna facility, TIP provides vocational training for people with significant barriers to employment. TIP’s 10-week tuition-free training program in masonry and carpentry, life skills, and social service support prepares students for work in a variety of trades or trade-related careers.


During the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh’s carpentry program, students are given instruction and practical application in measuring, cutting, and fitting lumber to standard building and design specifications.

Design Challenge

TIP sought an opportunity to earn supplemental revenue to help expand its carpentry curriculum while diversifying its students’ skill sets. Bridgeway Capital awarded TIP a grant to engage a furniture designer to aid them in creating a revenue-generating product. Monmade, with expertise in artisanal product development and procurement, including its extensive network of local producers, supported TIP’s Chief Operating Officer, Maggie Beldecos, enabling this thoughtful design and curriculum partnership. Aware of owner Zak Kruszynski’s desire to engage in projects with social impact, Monmade identified Bones and All to spearhead the product’s design.

“The bench project exposes our students to a different set of carpentry skills and a different set of tools and saws. Now students are using sustainable wood and gaining exposure to a side of construction that they wouldn’t typically see. Our students experienced making a high-craft product and everything that goes along with that.”

Maggie Beldecos, TIP

Collaborative Approach

Monmade advised on the types and specifications of products developers and architects look for when designing projects that engage with and tell the story of local communities. Developing a product for beginner carpentry students to fabricate that also meets the aesthetic and structural requirements of commercial design projects was challenging. Through collaboration and prototyping with TIP’s carpentry team and Monmade, Zak devised a distinctive double planter bench concept that achieves both goals.

“I think it was a great experience with TIP, as well as for our team,” said Zak. “Being a smaller project, it was a good experience to practice cognizance around timekeeping on the backend. We felt good coming out of the project.”

Another challenge was creating a bench for exterior environments capable of withstanding wet weather, especially Pittsburgh’s.

“Zak helped us work through that,” said Maggie. ”He offered his insights, providing us with two sets of drawings, one of wood and one of mixed material.”

Impactful Outcomes

Through this unique partnership, TIP has launched and sold its first viable product for the design market, available for order through our catalog.

Bones and All, in addition to their custom design and fabrication projects, has added commercial product design to their services. Learn more about how you can work with Bones and All by reaching out to the Director of Monmade, Katie Schaible.


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