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Art and Artists

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Designer Interview: Meet Bend Good’s Founder, Gaurav Nanda

Becky

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About as soon as Bend Good’s Lucy Chair rolled out into the marketplace, it became a contemporary icon. Artistically sculptural in shape with nods to iconic mid-century designs and a look to the future, the chair attracted architects and interior designers in droves. While it makes a statement indoors, it’s also built to stand up to the elements outside. Best of all, Bend Good’s products are built with sustainability at the forefront of their priorities, and using them contributes toward LEED certification.

Today we’re having a chat with Gaurav Nanda, the founder of Bend Goods. Gaurav is not a jack of all trades — he’s a master of many. His many skills include sculpting, t-shirt printing, clay-pot throwing, contributing to automobile design and entrepreneurship.

Is there anything in particular in your background that drove/helped you with the designs for Bend Goods — automotive design, sculpture, throwing pots? Design in general has always been a very big interest of mine.  I still today love to learn about different materials and love to work with different mediums that I have never worked with before.  It really does shape your perspective.  When you can look at something and see it for the process it took to make it and not just the end result, you get a deeper appreciation for it.  It can sometimes also spark an idea or give you a realization about something completely unrelated that you are working on.  That’s the best part about a creative job.  the creativity breeds and multiplies and seeps into everything that you might be working on.
What attracted you to working with metal in this way? Working in the auto industry, building models kind of lead me to metal.  It’s always fascinated me how you can take a material like metal and mold and shape it into something very sleek and beautiful.  There is something about metal that has this chameleon quality to just turn into anything you can imagine.  I chose iron for it’s sustainability.  It’s one of the most recyclable materials on the planet, and sustainability is something that is very important to me.
I love the way you present your products with dancing videos! What inspired that idea? I’m glad that you like it.  I had been brainstorming creative ways of getting the animal heads exposure and trying to figure out how to do that in a very creative way.  I met a filmmaker online and we brainstormed many different ideas.  A modern dance really seemed like the best way to give the animals personality but also function.
You began Bend Goods with seating and tables (I’m assuming?). What gave you the idea for the trophies and other accessories? How did you choose the animals? The seating definitely came first. When I started the company it was called Bend Seating for that reason.  Then as I started to move into tables and eventually the trophy heads, we switched the name to Bend Goods.  I’ve always had many interests in terms of design.  I started with seating knowing that one day I would want to build an entire collection.  The idea is to create classic designs that you could potentially outfit an entire home with.  The trophy heads to me were a lot of fun to develop.  I’ve always been a big fan of mounted taxidermy, but there is definitely something sad about the process.  I wanted to put a modern more humane spin on that form of art.  I chose the animals because I wanted to represent the power in the animal kingdom.  I think that each animal that we have represented is very majestic and powerful in it’s own right.

What’s your workspace like? How does it inspire you? We are actually in the process of moving work spaces.  We started Bend in a live/work loft in Marina Del Rey, California and earlier this year started to become very aware that we were rapidly outgrowing the space.  We spent many months going back and forth trying to decide our next step and finally landed on buying a house.  We now reside just south of Hollywood in what we are currently designing to be a living catalogue.  It will be a space where we can have meetings and invite designers and architects over to see the furniture in a natural useable setting.  It has an amazing backyard with a pool and a detached garage that will be our workspace and photo studio.  It really is going to become a mini Bend Compound and we couldn’t be more excited about it.  For me the process of building this space has given the brand life and shown me what is truly possible with what we are creating.  Being able to live in a space that is all Bend Goods with some mid century modern pieces mixed in will inspire me every day and allow me to really think about where to go next and what we need to develop next.
[I hope they will share a house tour with us when it's ready!]

Do you have any design heroes or favorite designs that have influenced your work? Designers like Harry Bertoia, Warren Platner, Charles and Ray Eames to name a few are always big influences for me in terms of design and being progressive.  Their work is what made me want to start doing what I do today.
Any advice for how to get out of a creative rut/block? Don’t sit and stare at the same spot on the wall and think that you will be inspired.  We live in a day and age where you can work for almost anywhere on the planet.  Find a place that inspires you and get out of your comfort zone.
Thanks so much to Gaurav for taking the time to speak with us today. We cannot wait to see the Bend Goods House!

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Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Imaginary Worlds Wows at The Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Becky

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This month I took a visit to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, one of my favorite spots in the city. What was extra exciting about this visits is that artists from Montreal were assembling the amazing mosaiculture creatures for the upcoming Imaginary Worlds exhibition (it starts officially on May 1 2014). It was so cool to see how they decorate these living sculptures with beautiful colors and patterns completely composed of live plants. 

Here is one of the artists at work.

This amazing lady welcomes at the waterfall. When I walked by a few days later, her hair was all planted in waves of colorful plants. Sorry, I didn’t have my camera on me, but I plan on returning when it’s all done! By the way, this waterfall used to be the entry drive into the gardens and the former asphalt patch has transformed into one of the loveliest attractions there.

I especially loved the way the water fell through her hand.

I’ll be interested to see what they do to cover up the supports underneath, like on this vibrant butterfly piece.

A graceful horse grazes near the orchid house.

The best action was watching the frog being placed into the pond via a large crane and some men in the pond sporting waders.

This guy still needed his head put on. I loved seeing how they made his eye close up:

Watching them work on the cobra was really interesting. You can see how the holes in the netting will hold the plants in place. It really shows how intricate the process is and how much work is involved in putting together each creature. When they are done, you won’t see any of the structural support or the netting at all.

Here’s a start on the back of the cobra’s head and the artists serving as unwitting scale models. It was a bit unnerving to walk between the two giant snakes on the path.

Two intertwined fish rotate in the fountain at the entrance to the great lawn:

Stay tuned, I’ll continue to post photos from my fair city’s beautiful botanical gardens on Instagram. Speaking of, we’re pretty new to Instagram. Please stop by and say hi when you get a chance.

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Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Around the Web – Owls in Residence, Classical-Meets-Hipster

Becky

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Sometimes I forget to share all of the great things I’ve seen around the web that is world-wide. Here are some of the best things that are floating around in cyberspace right now.

image by Kai Fagerström

Loving this project where photographer Kai Fagerström documented all the critters inhabiting this house in the woods.

photo by Katherine Marks for the New York Times

Scoop up a slop sink in NYC for just under $10K? The New York Times reported that buildings are now selling off prime real estate like pieces of the hallway, landings and closets that hold the slop sink for mopping to homeowners in order to keep their costs and thus homeowner fees down. I suppose in a city where space is so tight, that 17-square foot slop sink room could be worth big bucks to most people.

image via Lexington, MA Historic Survey

The Five Fields Community in Lexington, Massachusetts. I knew nothing of this modernist neighborhood spearheaded by a group of architects that included Walter Gropius. The philosophy behind the shared common areas reminded me so much of Randall Arendt’s work.  By the way, I think it sucks that the Boston Globe won’t let anyone read one measly article per month online without subscribing, so I apologize that you won’t be able to read the whole thing without signing up for 99 cents, but this article by Linda Matchan is worth it, I promise.

Photos by photographer Léo Caillard and photo retoucher Alexis Persani

Classical sculptures dressed as hipsters. Thanks so much to my friend Paola Thomas of Mirror Mirror for bringing this to my attention!

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Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

On Display: Pasquale Natale’s Houses

Becky

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Last weekend Friday I had a chance to head down to Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod. Just a 90 minute ride from where I usually stay in Mashpee, once you hit Wellfleet and Truro, Cape Cod takes on an other-worldly feeling. Ocean on both sides, undulating dunes, wild grasses and the cutest little tiny cottages along the beach you’ve ever seen.

Once you hit Commercial Street in P-town things heat up; drag queens are riding their bikes down the street advertising their shows (be sure to hit Varla’s if you can), bikes ding their bells as they weave down both sides of the pedestrian-overtaken, one-way street and friends call out to friends from the balconies of restaurants and B&Bs.

photo: Becky Harris

For me, the best part of it can be hitting the galleries. While trying to remember where MDV3 Gallery was, I wandered into A Gallery, where they had just set up the show “Home Again: A continuation of the House”  by Pasquale Natale (it was opening that evening). 150 little fabric houses lined a 10-inch deep shelf around the gallery, some of them in handmade boiled wool, others in crochet and more fanciful patterned fabrics. The mini-village was appropriate in this place, where a 100 square foot beach shack is common.

photo: Becky Harris

photo: Becky Harris

photo: Becky Harris

photo: Becky Harris

The little village is not unlike any functioning community; diverse, patched together, some houses standing straighter than others, some more modest in their cladding. I suppose it didn’t hit me I was shaking up the village before the opening by buying one and brining the ranks down to 149 little houses.

photo: Becky Harris

In 1992 Pasquale wanted to reclaim the positive sign, something that had gained such a negative connotation during the AIDS epidemic, and make it positive again. 21 years later with so many advances in medicine made, it’s interesting to view them in a new light.

If you’re headed to the Cape for an early fall trip this weekend (highly recommended; the throngs of tourists have dispersed), be sure to stop by A Gallery at 192 Commercial Street. The show will run through September 10, 2013.  While you’re down at that end of the street, be sure to stop by MDV3 down at 142 Commercial Street, and Adam Peck Gallery across the street at 137 Commercial Street.

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Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Field Trip: The Olson House

Becky

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In Cushing, Maine, on a peninsula that just out into the awe-strikingly beautiful St. George’s River sits the Olson House. This house was made most famous by Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World,” which is part of MoMA’s permanent collection. Wyeth and his wife Betsy  became close friends with the owners and Wyeth went on to use an upstairs room as a studio. The Olson House is owned by The Farnsworth Museum, a gem of a smaller art museum in Rockland Maine. Admission to the Farnsworth gets you a pass to visit The Olson House as well, which is about a 20 minute drive from the museum.

photo by Becky Harris

Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth

Betsy Wyeth described the house as “looming up like a weathered ship stranded on a hilltop.

photo by Becky Harris

Today patina style and rustic are very popular, and this old home is just so beautiful you realize it could never be replicated, but it serves as wonderful vernacular inspiration. Its simplicity and wonderful proportions makes it almost modern:

photo by Becky Harris

Its charm comes from a number of things, from the variation on the boards to the old glass used in the windows:

photo by Becky Harris

To the rusty hinges on the doors:

photo by Becky Harris

To the oil lamp inside the window:

photo by Becky Harris

Of course, the bucolic fields of wildflowers, evergreen forests and saltwater river nearby don’t hurt either:

photo by Becky Harris

If you’re ever anywhere near Thomaston, Maine (about two hours north of Portland), I highly recommend a visit.

Learn more information about The Olson House’s hours, admission and directions (watch out very carefully for signs, there’s a turn or two that’s easy to miss)

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