After just a few minutes talking to Ted Esselstyn about wood, his enthusiasm had worn off on me. I found myself petting the smooth boards of Tulip, Sugar Maple and Beech in the workshop of City Bench, the furniture company that Ted owns with his brother, Zeb. Their concept, to create useful and beautiful objects from trees destined for the landfill, is a lesson in sustainability. Through relationships with the cities of New Haven, Hartford, and Bridgeport and local institutions, they salvage downed, damaged or diseased trees, kiln dry them and fill their Higganum showroom with hand-crafted dining and coffee tables, benches and stools, headboards and bookshelves. Each piece has a story: one table is fashioned from a Sugar Maple from the Wadsworth Estate designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. Another comes from the Olmstead-designed Beardsley Park in Bridgeport. Worm staining, bug infestations, fungus and knots in the wood inform the design process and excite Ted; he celebrates these imperfections and incorporates them into the piece. The brothers are happy to do custom work, or you can shop from the showroom. Call for an appointment (860.716.8111) and then head to Higganum to see these works of sustainable art for yourself. Find out more: www.city-bench.com.