Sweet Dreams

Profile of Brent Torson, En Gedi Beds

Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Brent Torson spent his boyhood days dreaming of living in California where “the sky was blue and the sun always shined,” and designing “the fanciest cars he could imagine.” Now happily ensconced in sunny Santa Barbara, Torson’s fertile imagination has been transported by another kind of vehicle entirely – a new line of custom-made children’s furniture, En Gedi Beds by Torson Design.

Inspired in part by his three children – five-year-old Jaden, three-year-old Elliana and baby Lissette – Torson’s beds charm both the young and the young-at-heart.

“I’m going for that romantic era, I think that kind of journey, as opposed to doing a shiny spaceship. I’ve in fact talked to many of my wife’s friends, that have said ‘Yeah, I would sleep in that now if it was big enough,'” laughs Torson, the twinkle in his eye leaving no doubt about his own delight in new venture.

“I like wondering what’s something that hasn’t been done yet? So that’s what drives me, or what drove me even as a child was … trying to think of what’s next or what’s right around the bend,” says Torson, whose wife Leanne is also an accomplished artist whose paintings grace the walls of their Riviera cottage.

“Having kids I was just opened up to this new world of wow, there’s all these things that kids need and want and would love to have. And then I was like what would I have liked to have (as a kid) and then it just came about.”

Though his children, who are home schooled by Leanne, offer plenty of input and advice at the drawing board of his home design studio, Torson says, “Really the target market is also the parents. I want the parents to fall in love with these things. They are the ones that are going to buy them. And then they have kind of a timeless, romantic quality about them.”

The Coach Bed, the first in the En Gedi collection, conjures up Cinderella fairytale fantasies with its timeless design that Torson based on old European horse-drawn carriages.

Elliana is definitely a fan, Torson says. But then, what little girl wouldn’t want to fall asleep in such a magical setting to dream of her prince.

For adventures inspired by the high seas (and a lot of input from Jaden), there’s the Privateer Bed, a pirate ship style indoor playhouse, complete with two decks, sails, a crow’s nest, and even working Nerf ball cannons.

Torson’s skills as an architectural model builder (his “bread and butter” business) came into to play as he worked out different motifs for the beds.

“I think (both designs) have old world charm and that’s why I chose these two to begin with,” says Torson. They also reflect his romantic sensibilities, as does his life with Leanne, whom he met in an acting class at Santa Barbara City College in 1998 and married six months later.

While the designs are being marketed as beds that will draw upon the talents of local artists and craftspeople, Torson explains that they are really meant to provide complete living spaces for their young owners. Built-in dressers, bookshelves, toy storage, writing desks, lighting and even guest beds can be incorporated into the designs. Also on the drawing board are several new designs, including an indoor tree house, a Polynesian jungle hut and a super hero hideout. And in addition to the one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, Torson is an accomplished muralist who can literally set the scene for each fantasy adventure.

“The heart behind this business, my heart, is that it would employ local creative people,” says Torson.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine in March, 2006.

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