For River Walk artist, furniture and art are interchangeable

Published 8:19 pm Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Vibrant patterns spill across a corner of River Walk Gallery and Arts Center. Each is a unique combination of wood and wood burning, paint and stain. They are meant to be displayed on a wall — they are art — but Zach Running has bridged the gap between art and interior design with his custom work.

Running is the artist behind Running Design, where his artwork regularly makes the transition to furniture. He’s new to the region and to River Walk, but he’s an old hand with woodworking — he grew up on a sawmill with his father in northern Wisconsin. He primarily uses white pine in his designs, or creates specialty work from more interesting pieces his father comes across.

Last July, Running moved from the slightly colder climate of Madison, Wisconsin, to Greenville, where his husband signed on as assistant housing director at East Carolina University.

“We just wanted to try a warmer climate,” Running laughed.

They got it: Wednesday, Running was working outside on an almost summer-like February day.

“I sit on the screened-in porch with the dogs all day and make my art and my furniture,” he said.

CUSTOM: Running’s designs are not limited to a certain style: rustic or modern, his pieces can be modified for each customer’s needs.


It’s an ongoing process: he comes up with a design, creates a piece of wall art, posts it to his Instagram account and gets response, most often in the form of, “Can you make this into a coffee table/end table/bar top?” The answer is always yes. For a recent project for a customer in Texas, running created two pieces with different patterns that could be switched from coffee table to hanging art on the customer’s whim.

“Most of the time people will send me photos of their house, and I’ll make something different using the design,” Running said. “And then there’s always the artwork for sale, because there’s always the original pattern.”

While some pieces have an indigenous American look, Running said he isn’t limited to a certain style.

“I can do anything. If someone has a really rustic look in their house, I can make it rustic. If someone has a really classy, modern, look. I can make it classy and modern,” he said.

Running’s wall art is on display at River Walk; he was River Walk’s featured artist for the month of January. He’s currently engrossed in the coming Farmers and Makers Market on Dickinson Avenue in Greenville, where he is recreating the space with reclaimed wood. Once the market is up and running, his work — and that of about 60 other artists — will be on fulltime display there. He is, however, enjoying the time he spends working at River Walk as one of its artist-members.

“It’s fun that every now and then I can spend the day there and do some work. It’s kind of relaxing. People come in and you can talk about your work,” Running said.

To see more of Running’s work, visit River Walk Gallery, 139 W. Main St., Washington, visit or follow him on Instagram, @runningzachary.