Joel Scilley, founder of New Orleans-based Audiowood, artfully blends technology and organic forms in his novel audio designs.
The artist: Scilley grew up in Florida and after high school, headed for New York, where he received his undergraduate degree from Hobart & William Smith College. He then earned an MA from Carnegie Mellon and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh.
As part of his studies, he interned in carpentry, architecture, and urban planning.
In 1997, Scilley left academia and moved to Oakland, CA, to return to designing and making things as a renovation carpenter. As an experiment, Scilley made the first turntable for himself. In 2008, founded Audiowood.
The company: Audiowood has been based in New Orleans, where Scilley moved, in 2013. Although he has a small work area in his home, Scilley does most woodworking in a shared shop space nearby.
The art & materials: Mostly artfully designed high-performance audio equipment, including turntables, speakers, and multifunctional pieces in wood but also in concrete and mixed media.
What’s popular: The Barky Turntable ($1,750), which is constructed using a live-edge ash wood round. A newer, ebonized version of this turntable is called Black Barky.
Other favorites: Custom turntables in almost any style with a wide range of quality components ($1,000 to $6,000).
Fun, special or unusual requests: Once built a batch of turntables for Bushmills (the Irish whiskey maker) that were constructed using whiskey barrel lids shipped from Ireland.
Big break: Shortly after Scilley started building audio equipment under the name Audiowood, his Barky turntable received a huge amount of international press, which in turn led to a large order from Anthropologie and having one of his products featured on the cover of The New York Times Holiday Gift Guide.
- “Most Unique Work”, Contemporary Crafts, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, 2015 and 2018.
- “Finalist,” Etsy Global Design Competition, 2019.
- New Orleans Studio Residency, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, New Orleans, 2021. He recently completed the five-month residency.
- Named one of “8 Tech Designers to Watch,” Apartment Therapy, 2008.
- Tagged as “People to Watch,” New Orleans Magazine, 2015.
- Having Captain Kirk use one of his turntables in the film “Star Trek: Into Darkness.”
- Working with a variety of creative celebrities, from Adrian Grenier and Elijah Woods to J.J. Abrams.
What’s new: Small-scale models of New Orleans bars and houses that function as bluetooth equipped speakers (image below).
What’s next: A coffee table with a built-in, high-quality turntable (image below). Scilley recently built his first and hopes to do more furniture pieces that blend functions.
Where to buy: audiowood.com
Get social at:
- Instagram” @audiowood