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Published on December 4th, 2008 | by Guest Contributor


GTR: Fresh and Functional Eco Furniture with Cisco Brothers

Cisco Brothers

GreenTalk Radio host Sean Daily talk with Cisco Pinedo, owner of Cisco Brothers Corporation, a furniture manufacturer in Los Angeles, California, who is producing an entirely clean and healthy line of sustainable furniture in fresh designs.

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Sean Daily: Hi and welcome to Green Talk, a podcast series from  Green Talk
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Sean Daily: Hey everybody, this is Sean Daily, welcome to Green Talk
Radio from and PersonalLifeMedia and today we’re
going to be talking about sustainable living and specifically in
regards to furniture and my guest to talk with me about that is a
furniture designer and the owner and founder of a furniture, a
sustainable furniture company, and his name is Cisco Pinedo, he is  the
Founder and Principal of Cisco Brothers.  And, Cisco welcome to the

Cisco Pinedo: Thank you Sean.

Sean Daily: Hey so, I understand you got a — you have a pretty
interesting story you — your family immigrated from Mexico to the
United States to the LA area in mid 70s, I think when you were 13 and
you got into upholstery manufacturing and then really, you know became
a — today you’re considered a leading designer of a furniture.  Tell
us about that story and how you got into — well, first of all the
journey of getting to — into the industry and then also into making
and turning into sustainable design.

Cisco Pinedo: Well, you know when I came to — into the State, I
actually landed in South Central, which is the — the people that is
I’m familiar with — with LA is kind of a southwest of that town.  And,
you know I was 13 years old and kind of a trying to learn the language
and I try to adapt the new culture.  And, I bumped into this little
upholstery shop that’s needed somebody to kind of a work after school,
kind of carrying furniture apart, so the craftsmen can put it back
together.  And, you know so I did that for little age, I was 14, into
kind of a, you know into high school.  And, that was kind of my
introduction to the industry and one of the things that I think and
made such a big impact, it was and get me so interested and focused on
furniture was that you know, I was — it was really a challenging for
me to when I came in and trying to learn the language and working in
the little shop that was — it was very, it was like — it’s very
rewarding to be able to do something that I can see the result much
better than I was seeing result and my — and my learning is — an
English so it was — it was a good — it was a good way to keep things
focused and you know the neighborhood was a little bit of tough
neighborhood, so it was —

Sean Daily: South Central does have that reputation as to being —

Cisco Pinedo: And for — and for shortly they have a reputation to
be top and I think, you know it is — it is a challenging for the town
but nevertheless the people that is — in that neighborhood is
wonderful people but when you’re a teenager you are dealing with a
court of a tough neighborhood because you know, the — you know parents
and grandparents and adults by men really you know committing crimes
and it was very, very small percentage —

Sean Daily: Um-hm.

Cisco Pinedo: It’s really the use that — that you know trying to
figure it out and you know they come from a low incomes and families
and they just — you know a lot of free time and kids just don’t have
focus the energy in the street and unfortunately you know the society
gets — and the media gets to really put it out there and you know
that’s what we know about South Central but, you know it’s a great
place, a lot of wonderful people lives here.

Sean Daily: Well I’m curious sir, so from your roots there in South
Central, Los Angeles and the works that you were doing then to bring us
forward of that what happened after that just sort of bring you into,
you know, oh I guess really the question I have is what year did — I’m
always curious about this as when sustainability and green living and
green building got first on you rate our screen, do you remember that
— that moment?

Cisco Pinedo: Yeah, I mean we — I’ve been — when we — when I — a
couple of years after I founded the company, you know I stated Cisco
Brothers in 1990.  So, about probably 90s we somewhere in there I
really thought it, kind of what, just kind of start asking myself, you
know where is — all this wood coming from and that was kind of more of
my thinking, you know I grew up in a very-very small village, I mean
I’m not even you know quite — not quite a village it’s more like in
the Sierras, and so —

Sean Daily: It was in Hellisco in Mexico right?

Cisco Pinedo: Hellisco, Mexico.

Sean Daily: Um-hm.

Cisco Pinedo: So I’m very familiar with nature and you know I grew
up in nature and that was — that’s all I knew.  So therefore, you know
I start asking myself about — about where were the trees coming from.
So, what we did is that we put a little program together that on every
piece of furnitures that we made, we will plant a tree.  And that was,
you know with — back in the early 90s.  And, can I just — you know
can I left it alone and that was kind of in a way that was a way that
we felt like we were contributing to — to nature and — and you know
probably about five years ago, well the industry was getting a little
bit, you know, not consolidating but really almost you know immigrating
into Asia and a lot of the manufacturing was going away.  I just sort
of asking myself, you know what was Cisco Brothers really you know,
place within the industry because my — I made that you know conscious
decision not to go overseas.  So, we started you know kind of a soul
searching and saying, you know what really is it’s our role and what —
why is it that you know that — how can we bring something to the
customer that they fear like you know we really what story we want to
tell, why should they be buying product that it is more expensive that
if you buy from overseas.  So in that, you know in that journey of
culture chain I just started analyzing everything that we do and you
know I just felt like everything that we were doing was, you know we
were paying and living the way it just we were offering people medical,
you know insurance and we were — we had you know, 41K Plan for them,
so we were just looking like you know, we’re doing all the right things
and then I just went into and said well, what kind of ingredients are
we — are we really, please look at into the ingredients, what is it
they were using, you know just because it’s available and that’s what
they tell us that we should buy because of what suppliers tell you what
is good.  We should start, you know analyzing is really good and I
started looking into that and then I realized that you know, they —
there is a lot of ingredients that were used in a furniture where, you
know petroleum based.  So, that you know, if one of those things you
kind of know but it ids since you don’t ask then you don’t — you
don’t read the point imprint.  And by the time I got to that point I
just realized you know I want to change the way our industry — I think
there is a good, you know people should know that there is other
choices, so there is natural materials out there and — and you know I
just remember I went back into when I was carrying furniture apart,
remembering that a lot of these furnitures that I tore apart was from
you know, 19th Centuries, you know and, and I realized that, you know
there was a lot of — the contents and the ingredients in those piece
of furniture or it was horse hair, it was you know cotton, you know
rubber, it was — it was hole nature ingredient.  So, I just went and
— and started researching the natural ingredients and so I started
looking for a companies that, you know they had some of this materials
and that I want to make sure that they were not adding any chemicals.
So, it was like a process, finally and —

Sean Daily: I’m curious if you don’t want me stopping there, how you
figured that out and I just got off the — of an interview podcast
interview with guest, who Mario Assadi of Greener Printer in Berkeley
and he actually is going so far as to taking a video camera to the
distributor he’s using and filming their operations with their consent
of course and putting on their website so, I’m always fascinated by the
process by which manufacturers sort of verified you know, their vendors
may — how’s that process happened for you?

Cisco Pinedo: Well, the process, it was pretty, you know pretty
straightforward I just, I just kind of went back and say you know, when
— OK where is the cotton coming from?  And we did a little research
and we’ve found out that there was a lot of cotton grown in California
that it was organically grown and but they were not, they were not for
— they were not processing any cotton for furniture.  All they were
doing was processing you know a cotton for to make textiles.  So, we
have to convince — we have to go and convince to know, the supplier
tell them you know there is, there is an opportunity and we will like,
you know be, you know to use their cotton and furniture.  And it took a
little bit of a word to — for them to see that there was an
opportunity.  But, you know to meet the classic, one of the shipping
points that I felt like and it happened to my company is really when I
went to — to my lumber supplier because, you know we used a lot of
lumber and when I look deep into the lumber that we were using, even
though the lumber they — we are using it was so, you know grown in the
State and in some fashion, you know it’s so-privately owned.  So, they
are planting new trees to, you know to keep with demand but when I
really look deep into it, we found out that there was — there was this
organization called FSC, FSC.

Sean Daily: Yeah, Forest Stewardship Council, um-hm.

Cisco Pinedo: That’s right.  And, we realized that that was the one
organization that really were doing their work, they were really going
through the process of making sure that they were auditing companies
that they were, you know that they were looking in detail that if they
were doing responsively work from planting a tree all the way to a
company like ours that is actually making the furniture and selling the
furniture.  So, there was chain of custody that it was pretty
transparent for people and consumers to see.  So, I went to my supplier
and I said to him, you know here’s an opportunity I think you should
get certified, I mean you know, we’re buying a lot of wood from you and
he cannot then understand it and you know we kind of explain a little
bit more and if he just didn’t believe in what we were trying to
accomplish, he just — he just thought we were just, you know like just
— this was not real and we came like six months and then eventually I
just when to them and said you know you have 90 days, if you don’t get
certified within 90 days I’m going somewhere else.

Sean Daily: Good for you.

Cisco Pinedo: And — and I went and you know, then the 90 days came
and he said, you know I haven’t gone through it and all of a sudden he
lost me as a customer and I was his largest account.

Sean Daily: Wow!

Cisco Pinedo: And, I went and found someone who was certified and
all of a sudden it was, you know they had overnight, they had this huge
account.  And to me that is really you know what, what companies and —
and you know, and as a consumers, you know we are the biggest consumer
in the planet.  Then we have a power to go and, and you know and
demand, you know the people that we buy this from, you know doesn’t
really matter where it could be furniture globing and —

Sean Daily: Yeah, I know it’s great.

Cisco Pinedo: — I then — and put that and say you know what, I
want to know who made it, I want to know how was it made, you know and
we should say the people that you know ours — we have this culture
that you know we want it now and we want it cheap and I’m hoping that
you know we bring in — we are changing a little bit of that culture
and now, just for asking, you know what was it made with and who made
it, you know…?

Sean Daily: Yeah, right — instead of we want it now, we want it
cheap, how about you know, we want it soon, we want it reasonably
praise but most of all we want a sustainably manufactured.

Cisco Pinedo: Absolutely.

Sean Daily: And with respect and a sustainable lifestyle for the
indigenous people on whatever area you might be, you know manufacturing
and processing this.

Cisco Pinedo: So, you know so that that to me was really the most
telling and — and I saw the impact and I just, you know so I started
with the word and I just started switching every other ingredient, you
know now for the first time, we’re going to introduce in April, every
leather and every fabric, they will introduce into the market as all
natural and certified that we no longer will introduce textiles,
conventional textile.  And so, you know, it’s been these steps that
were just challenging our vendors and — and also, you know, making
sure that the end consumer knows that they have a choice now that they
can buy something that is petroleum, you know free — a lease you know
the ingredients even though we still use petroleum for transportation
that are lease the ingredients that they have inside their home is
petroleum free.

Sean Daily: And well, Cisco, we’re going to take a break right here
for a quick work from my commercial sponsor and then we will be right
back talking about sustainable design of furniture, in this case we
just did a recent one or another is just sustainable design, so in this
case we’re talking about furniture design and we’ll be right back with
Cisco Pinedo of Cisco Brothers, thanks everyone.

Male: Carlisle Wide Plank Floors:  We believe in a responsible use
and reuse of all our natural resources to discover the beauty of our
reclaimed antique wood flooring and give this treasure wood the second
life they deserve.  Visit Carlisle and

Sean Daily: OK everybody and we are back talking with Cisco Pinedo
of Cisco Brothers, we’re talking about sustainable furniture and
furniture design and I’m curious I just wanted to talk a little bit
about what do you — what do you see as a role of designers in sort of
creating a greener more sustainable future in general I mean not just
for the regards of furniture design but in general?

Cisco Pinedo: Well, you know I — I choose — I choose I was part of
a panel a few weeks ago and one of the things that that I was
explaining to all these designers and they — they were all into a
designer.  And one thing that I was telling them is that you know they
are the biggest and someone like there’s the perfect of people to go
and deliver the news, to go and tell their new client and say by the
way you know that now you can have your whole impair of your home not
only that there is environmental materials but now you can, there is
there is ingredients that I used in furniture that are good for you
that are healthy that you have a healthy choice.  And, you know I can
see that their, their eyes were lighting because at the end of the day
you know when someone goes and hires the designer, they become the
authority in many ways you know the consumer or the client, they have
an ideal, you know lifestyle that they live in and they have an idea
behind sensibility and the designer job is to — to deliver you know
everything out.  So, when a designer now has the choice that can go o
and tell this client by the way, would you be interested and having
your home all, you know nature — with only using environmental
friendly materials and making sure that your place is going to be, you
know a healthy environment.  There is not going to be up gashing and
this in your inside your home, you will live a much healthier, you know
life and you will sleep much better I mean to me that you know, that’s
a huge opportunity and, and you know designer is a big influence, you
know they — even the way — even furniture designers or anybody that
design we influence in all the buying what people buys.  So —

Sean Daily: Yeah, and businesses, yes.

Cisco Pinedo: And businesses.  So, when a designer gets hire by a
company there is the opportunity all over again, you know you can go to
a company, say by the way will you be — you want me to design this
product for you, there is resources now that you can do it with an
environmental, you know conscious that is good for the environment,
it’s good for — for society and is good for, you know people tell.  I
will be, would you be interested in me telling you about it.  So, I
think they are a big influence and I think we should you know as far as
responsibility to make it available.

Sean Daily: Pick up the mantle yeah.  So, I’m curious as a client,
now this is a question that I asked most of the guest on the show that
deal with you know greener versions of services and products that —
that maybe out there conventionally.  As a client if I was to come to
you and say you know, I want to go with the more sustainable furniture,
what’s the cost premium?

Cisco Pinedo: You know —

Sean Daily: Or is there one?

Cisco Pinedo: Well, there isn’t, there isn’t.  If you buy a piece of
let’s say if you — you’re going to buy a dining table and all of a
sudden that dining table, there is — made out of recycle wood and
instead of using 20 layers of paint, it just has a natural oil on top
of this beautiful, you know all piece of wood that we used in as your
raw ingredient.  Well, that table is going to be either the same price
that a conventional table, which going to cost and sometimes even a
little bit less because they’re just less — less lever and layers of
all these paint but you have to put at that product.  When it comes to,
you know when it comes to upholstery it might be — and it might be 10
to 20 percent more if — if the size that you want to go with this
beautiful lush textiles, but if you go with a basic ham for you know
certified cotton cover it might be, you know, equivalent or cheaper
than a conventional piece that you will buy, you know from one other
retail stores.

Sean Daily: Um-hm, OK.  So, but we’re going to take one more quick
break and then we’re going to come back and I have one final question
for you and we will be right back, we’re talking about sustainable
furniture with Cisco Pinedo of Cisco Brothers, you can find him online
at  We’ll be right back to Green Talk Radio.

Sean Daily: Thanks for tuning in the Green Talk.  This is Sean
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Sean Daily: Everybody, we’re back.  This is Sean Daily with Green
Talk Radio, I’m talking today with Cisco Pinedo who is the Founder and
Principle of Cisco Brothers and a furniture designer and Cisco I’m just
curious you know about one more thing before you have to go today.  You
have a technology called Inside Green brand and does so certainly I’m
— can you tell us exactly what — what that label means?

Cisco Pinedo: Well, what we did is — what we did is that we decided
to take everything that is inside and a piece of furniture, all the
ingredients that you need to use, so when you — when you start — you
know primarily an upholstery, you started with lumber and then you have
to use foam and then you have to use some type of fiber and then you
use the cover.  Well, before you get to the cover there is at least
three or four layers that have ingredients that we do.  So, what we did
is that we say, you know we’re going to make sure that all the
ingredients inside the piece of furniture are going to be all natural
because if we — if we can control that then we know that we’re giving
customers the choice because the cover, you know we don’t have control,
somebody might decide to bring their own —***— favorite and
therefore, you know, there is a limitation.  So, what we did, we
replaced regular foam, petroleum based with rubber, you know, rubber
that comes from the rubber tree.  So, this tree is not cut.  The only
thing that is done is, it gets harder and you end up with a cushion,
you know, with rubber that you can make any size cushion the same way
that you would use from petroleum base.  And then we replaced the fiber
with certified cotton and then replaced, you know, also with 100
percent wool.  So, instead of using foam, petroleum based and fiber
petroleum based, we went to a natural ingredient.

Sean Daily: And-and, it sounds like there is not necessarily — I
mean again, I think most people would associate that with their being
in price premium but from what you’re saying that’s fairly

Cisco Pinedo: It’s very insignificant.  And you know one thong that
people to have to also keep in mind is that you know, we’re so used to
buy disposable furniture and the problem with disposable furniture is
that, you know once it was done with it, it goes to the landfills.  I
mean, it’s not like, you can reuse and reuse and when you buy a piece
of furniture that is so natural ingredient or guess what, you can
either re-upholster it or you can pass it along to, you know, next
generations, to your kids or your cousins or your nephew —

Sean Daily: Right.

Cisco Pinedo: — because you’re giving them something that is not
only that is good for them but you know that is durable and you can
pass it along.  So, and it will last three or four times more than the
disposal piece of furniture that you buy you know, in the market right

Sean Daily: And that is interestingly or you can talk to somebody
like, my previous guest Lara Fishman at storm Interiors, who’s an
interior designer that specializes in reusing, you know, vintage
materials or all the materials in new projects.  So, you know furniture
or whatever it might be being recompiled or rug or something being, you
know, reincorporated into a newer piece, you know.  These are all
durability and long-lasting — if I can make up that word —

Cisco Pinedo: Right.

Sean Daily: — being one of the, you know, the greenest thing that
you can possibly do which is something I said on that interview —

Cisco Pinedo: Absolutely.  You know, we just introduced a line that
we call refine and what that — what it does is that that line, we only
make product with found objects and we make lamps, you know we make
tables, we make chairs, we make anything that is all with the fine
lumber that we find or objects that we, you know, that we might find
and turn it into a functional piece of furniture.

Sean Daily: Great.  Well, we are out of time for today Cisco.  I
really appreciate you being on the program today and sharing the
information and wish you great luck with your company and everything
you’re doing and I loved the story about how you actually exercise your
corporate processing power to shake somebody off their non-green rear
ends you know.  I hope that company has subsequently gone green and got
— they’re losing their biggest customer but it was inspiring.  So, my
guest today again has been Cisco Pinedo, who is the Founder and
Principal of Cisco Brothers.  They’re online at  Thanks again Cisco.

Cisco Pinedo: Thank you Sean.

Sean Daily: Thanks is always to everyone listening in today.
Remember for more free on demand podcast, articles, videos and other
information related to living a greener lifestyle, visit our website at  We’d also love to hear your comments, feedback and questions.  Send us an e-mail at

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