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Art and Artists

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Designer Interviews: Sharon & Ted Burnett of Strand Design

Becky

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Hey All, today we’re chatting with Sharon Burdett, co-founder, along with Ted Burdett, of Strand Design. Thanks so much to Sharon for sharing a little more about how a career leads to designing furniture at your own company, choosing recycled and recyclable materials, producing goods locally, and hip-hop night in Florence …

Please tell me a bit about your background – what led you to creating Strand Design?

Strand Design was created out of our desire to work together on collaborative projects, and became an actual company three years ago when we both decided to pursue these collaborative projects on a full time basis.

The first project that we created together was a line of reclaimed vinyl bags that we called “Tree Theory.” We sourced almost all of the components from the waste stream, literally taking vinyl billboards out of the dumpster, and cutting seat belts out of cars in the junk yard. It was messy, and very fun. Since that project, we’ve continued to produce designs that utilize recycled materials, or can be recycled easily (i.e., no “monstrous hybrids”) but we don’t feel that the designs should have a specific “green” aesthetic; we want the designs to speak for themselves.

Strand Design Birdhouse Floor Lamp


What preceded the Strand Design phase of your lives?

Ted has been designing, creating, and making things from the moment he could hold a pencil in his hand (that the pencil was made from old-growth lumber would become an issue as his awareness of and love for the natural world matured).

Ted’s relentless curiosity, lust for life, and desire to create led to an equally curious education — anthropology, fine woodworking, and environmental ecology at The University of Wisconsin at Madison; dinner parties and hip-hop night at the Lorenzo de Medici Art Institute of Florence, Italy; and, finally, The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where he received his BFA in Industrial Design in 2004.


Ted’s design career began in soft goods at California Innovations’ Chicago office. There Ted was drawn deep into the world of product design on a massive scale, simultaneously enchanted and challenged by cost engineering and development trips overseas, high stakes design presentations for large retailers, and the ultimate challenge of trying to design products for six year old girls … luckily, there was foosball and the most amazing coworkers to help him cope with the stress.

In addition to his work at Strand, Ted is an instructor in Industrial Design at UIC. He loves it there.

Strand Design Better Dog Spotlight

As for myself, though fascinated by just about everything, a passion for writing and image-making led me to study graphic design over biochemistry, philosophy, psychiatry and poetry …

I received her undergraduate degree in graphic design from California College of the Arts in 2000, where I had the good fortune to learn from and work with some of the best designers in the profession. After graduating from CCA and working in The Bay Area for a few years, I headed back to Chicago to earn my MFA at The School of The Art Institute Chicago.

Before starting Strand with Ted in 2009, I worked as an in-house designer for the international fashion company Oilily, then at RGLA, one of the top retail design firms in the country, and I freelanced for several boutique design firms in San Francisco and Chicago.

When I’m not at Strand, I can be found practicing yoga, reading books, or eating chocolate. Sometimes all at once.

What’s your workspace like?

Our workspace is in an old warehouse in the west loop of Chicago. We are lucky to have a large amount of space, and we’ve been tweaking it continuously for the last three years. We have our prototype workshop in the basement of the building, our office on the ground floor, and our storage and assembly space on the top floor.


Tell us a bit about your neighborhood.

We absolutely love our neighborhood. It’s an exciting and almost bizarre mix of different businesses. The west loop is home to some of the most respected restaurants in the city, great galleries and boutiques, and packed in between all of these “tourist friendly” destinations are old meat packing shops and food wholesalers that have been around for decades. It inspires us both to think about how much the city changes, and how many layers of history are present simultaneously.

Strand Design Basket Lug Trug

Tell us a bit about designing sustainable products and some of the sustainable materials, processes and/or technologies you employ.

There are many reasons that we are committed to sustainability, and some of those reasons may not be as obvious at first as others. As designers of objects, we are certainly interested in reducing the environmental impact of the objects that we make, and this can be seen most clearly in our material choices.

• We use urban lumber or reclaimed lumber instead of wood from forests

• We use locally fabricated steel because of steel’s almost endless ability to be recycled,

• We use recycled rubber and recycled plastics.

• We also design our products with the intent that they can be disassembled into their component parts, which facilitates recycling as well as ease of repair.

Strand Design Eleven Side Table

In addition to our commitment to responsible sourcing of materials, we’re passionate about producing our designs locally. We work with local manufacturers, many of whom have been in business for decades, and the relationships that we have forged with these great local companies have a huge impact on the quality of our work. In addition to supporting the local economy, we truly believe that we can produce better products here.

Strand Design Tripod Table/Stool

Where did the name Strand Design come from?

The name Strand Design came from the very first collaborative project that Ted and I did together almost a decade ago. We were experimenting with carbon fiber jewelry, and the tiny fiber “strands” are just so amazing looking! The name just came from that moment of inspiration and we stuck with it.

What’s next for you and your company?

Slow and steady growth, and collaborations with other designers are on the horizon.

Thanks so much to Sharon Burdett for visiting with us today! Click here to see all of Strand Designs’s current line.

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Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Makeover Your Bedroom with Area {A Giveaway!}

DesignPublic.com

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If you’re not already familiar with the amazing modern bedding from our friends at Area, then you should remedy that, pronto.  Area is a small independent company that creates products for the modern life.  They have an incredible line of furniture and bedding that is based on the modern Scandinavian concept of good design for everyday living.  Area started as a collection of screen-printed cotton duvet covers and has expanded immensely since their inception in 1990, and now they make a wide variety of products such as organic cotton sheets, linen duvets, and blankets made in baby alpaca.

I was able to speak with Area’s designer, Anki Spets, on the phone about a month ago and was struck by her dedication to a product that encompasses beauty, simplicity, modernity and practicality in design. Her talent for imbuing her products with both refined design sensibility and a human touch is what makes each collection truly distinctive.

Anki and I spoke about the most important place in the home – your bedroom.  A bedroom should feel comfortable and peaceful, and your bed is the place where that comfort begins.  I was recently researching Feng Shui for the bedroom and stumbled across an article which states “a ‘good looking’ and well-balanced bed is very important in creating a perfect feng shui bedroom. A good mattress, solid headboard and high quality sheets from natural fibers are also very important in creating harmonious feng shui energy.

What does your bedroom, and namely your bed, look like?  Are you creating a peaceful environment for your mind and body to rest and recharge or do you have a mish-mash of bedding products that just make you look, well, confused?

Area wants to help you by offering one of our very lucky readers the chance to do a little spring cleaning in their bedroom, and give their bed a complete makeover. The winner of our giveaway will receive the following from Area - 1 fitted sheet, 1 flat sheet, 1 duvet cover, 1 blanket, 2  pillow cases, and 1 body pillow with insert.  That’s a value of over $1,000.

To celebrate, we’re also offering 15% off of Area’s new EDITH & SWEA lines which are both gorgeous and decadent.  Also, don’t let the giveaway stop you from purchasing something – if you win the contest and you’ve purchased the bedding, we will fully refund your money – so make sure you snatch it up now while it’s on sale!

Ready to enter – we have lots of ways to win!  See the entry form below — good luck!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Exhibits: Bill Traylor at the High Museum

Becky

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This week I had the pleasure of heading to one of my favorite museums, The High Museum of Art here in Atlanta.* While the biggest current draw is the exhibition Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters, I was headed over to see Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of The High Museum of Art and The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.

Traylor was a self-taught African-American folk artist. Born a slave in 1854, he finally left the plantation to move to Montgomery Alabama around 1928, sleeping in the store room of a funeral home at night while drawing on the sidewalks by day.  He would sit outside and draw the world walking by, usually on the back of old cardboard ads he found on the street and in the trash. His media of choice (and availablilty) were pencil, watercolor, poster paint, charcoal and crayons. He was able to capture so much movement, emotion and personality with such simple drawings. While they are distinctly folk art, there are a lot of qualities that are at once primitive and modern, from the way he abstracts silhouettes of people to his use of color.

The cardboard is the back of an old sign advertisement for Sensation cigarettes, thus its odd size.

If you have chance to catch this show, you really should not miss it. It combines collections of the two museums. What’s so wonderful about standing 12 inches from one of these works, separated only by a pane of glass, is that you can see the dirt, wrinkles and tears on the cardboard. You can see the rhythm of the pencil strokes up close. You can see where the artist’s finger smeared the charcoal. I hadn’t been this moved by a show since I went to see the quilts made by the women from Gee’s Bend.

Learn more about Traylor and about Charles Shannon, a fellow artist who collected and preserved Traylor’s drawings ever since meeting him in 1939 at highmuseum.org.

All images via highmuseum.org.

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Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Art on Atlanta’s Beltline

Becky

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I have plans to take a little artwalk with a friend today on Atlanta’s Beltline. I was planning on bringing my camera, but it seems better photogs than I have been sharing their work so I thought I’d direct you to it as well. Here’s just a little sample of what’s going on during this early phase of Beltline construction:

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Monday, August 8th, 2011

Inspiration Monday: The Work of Eric Hopkins

Becky

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Are you familiar with the artist Eric Hopkins? His beautiful renderings of Maine’s landscapes continue long tradition of artists being inspired by the sublime landscape there. This list includes Edward Hopper, Fairfield Porter, Andrew Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth, Alex Katz, Winslow Homer and Neil Welliver. If you’re lucky enough to be in Maine this summer, check out his gallery in Rockland (a stone’s throw from The Farnsworth Museum) and/or his show at Isalos Fine Art in Stonington, Maine.

All images via Erichopkins.com, property of Eric Hopkins. All rights reserved.

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