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Artisan Spotlight: Elemental Arthouse

Mitch Akin and Zack Love craft industrial, functional art that transforms spaces.

Written By:  Emily Davidson Nemoy

Photographers:  Laura Purtee

With wares ranging from tables and bar tops to handrails and signage, craftsmen Mitch Akin and Zack Love, of Elemental Arthouse, create custom, high-quality goods by drawing on their years of trade experience.

Akin, who majored in music and minored in business, is experienced in media-based arts, while Love is a third-generation master welder. Burnt out on the music industry and typical welding gigs, the guys joined forces to establish their own business. Laboring in a variety of mediums (including reclaimed wood, steel, copper, and neon), the pair works closely with buyers to drive concepts into creations. With their wide-ranging backgrounds, they’re able to speak the language of designers and engineers—a skill that has helped their business grow exponentially.

“We started with custom steel fabrication,” Akin says. “What set us apart was that we did it in a clean, artistic manner, with exclusive finishes that are unique to us.”

Elemental Arthouse signage can be seen nationwide and, of course, at Nashville businesses, including Local Taco, Giardino Gourmet Salads, NCA, and SYPCOFFEE. In addition to their high-quality signage and illuminated marquee letters, the Elemental Arthouse guys dabble in neon, citing retro Las Vegas signage as a major design influence. “We’d like to tap into that market more,” Akin says. “We think we could do it at a more accelerated level than what we’ve seen.”

Elemental Arthouse custom furnishings can be seen in public and corporate spaces, including Fat Bottom Brewery. “A while back, we developed an aged copper-patina style of metal finish,” Akin says. Using chemicals and a unique sealing process, the guys create and preserve a controlled rust pattern that has a tie-dyed, marble-like effect. Fat Bottom commissioned the look for its bar top at its new space in The Nations.

The pair also created a unique, grout-looking design for dining tables, utilizing metal bands as spacers between vintage planks of lumber. They also receive requests for custom, reclaimed-wood barn doors, as well as one-of-a-kind railings. A recent project, in collaboration with a local designer, involved using vintage beads from the ’70s to create an abacus handrail for a restaurant interior.

“We got started by doing stuff for individuals, but now design firms have started finding us,” Akin says, adding that structural and architectural engineering continues to inspire them.

Located in The Nations, Elemental Arthouse’s facility is filled with pieces that might add punch to a home or business—the artists’ unusual finishes, attention to detail, and quality craftsmanship are good for both interior and outdoor spaces. The team takes custom orders, or you can shop their wares through Etsy.

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