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Designer Interviews

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Design Interview: Pete Borowsky, Founder of Zatista

Becky

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Hey All!
We are so excited to announce that we are now carrying original artwork curated by premiere internet gallery Zatista. Thanks so much to Zatista Founder and CEO, Pete Borowsky, for helping us get to know what Zatista is all about today.
Hi Pete! What inspired you to start Zatista?
When moving into our first house with my wife, we wanted to find some great original art to fill the walls. We were ready to take a step beyond the framed Ansel Adams poster, and were looking for art that was unique and said something about our style.  However, when we set out to actually find something in our budget, it was both a confusing and dissapointing process.  Zatista is my answer to the daunting world of collecting art.
To you, what is the importance of providing original pieces?
Art as a part of your home and life is so unique.  There are so many talented artists, creating amazing one-of-a-kind works, that you are sure to find something that speaks to you on a personal level. And the amazing thing is that when you find that work and add it to your collection you will be the only person on the planet with that unique work.  In a world of big box stores and mass produced products art remains unique …  and for the same price as a print you might get at pottery barn, why not own an original?

Do you remember the first original piece of original artwork that you ever bought for yourself?
The first work I bought was a little watercolor when my wife and I were on vacation in Venice.  It’s just a small work hanging in our bathroom, but it’s a daily reminder of that trip which we love.

How does Zatista help artists?
Artists are the creative power behind Zatista and their work is what makes what we have to offer so vibrant and diverse.  For that, we work hard to bring exposure to their art all over the world. As an artist it can sometimes be difficult to reach beyond your local community and we help with that. At the end of the day, we work to connect artists and art collectors for the benefit of both.
What types of styles and media do Zatista have to offer?
At Zatista, you’ll find a full range of artwork including oils, acrylics, mixed-media, and drawings.  We’ve got everything from contemporary abstract works to fine art, and even photography (only in signed, limited editions of 99 or less).  You’ll find both small and large scale works so it’s easy to find the perfect work to fit the space you’re looking for.

I am amazed at the selection Zatista has to offer, as well as the affordable prices for original art. Every piece we’ve shown above is linked to where you can buy it, as they last.
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Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Designer Interview: Oxford Garden

Becky

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March has come in like a lion but it’s time to start  thinking about outdoor spaces. Go to the garage or shed and dust off that garden furniture, figure out what you need to repair or replace, then check out the fantastic selection from Oxford Garden to fill in the gaps. The Louisville, Kentucky based company offers up styles from traditional classics to contemporary, inspired by a range of precedents from English cottage garden to Scandinavian modern.
Today we’re sitting down with the President of Oxford Garden, Randy Meek, to learn more about the brand and what they have available.

Where did the name Oxford Garden come from?
Oxford Garden began as Oxford Garden Designs and the name developed from the romantic, centuries-old English gardens that nearly always included a finely crafted sitting bench.

How did Oxford Garden come about? What are your goals for the brand?
Oxford Garden began in 1997 as the interest in outdoor living had huge growth in America and the availability of quality outdoor furniture was in short supply.  After establishing itself with high-quality wood benches during its first few years, Oxford Garden methodically expanded furniture collections, offering a wide range of items, styles and materials.
Our products are designed and produced to provide a well-styled unique visual appearance, while maintaining quality materials and workmanship.  Of equal importance is our goal to deliver these quality products at moderate prices.
How would you describe the Oxford Garden style and how does this help freshen up outdoor spaces? What inspired your current collection?
The Oxford Garden style is a refinement of comfort, shapes, simplicity and practicality.  We aim to produce outdoor furniture that is comfortable, applies practical use of materials through simplicity of design and delivers a captivating appearance.
For example, in one of our current collections, Siena Deep Seating, we use straight and simple shapes with just slight emphasis on key areas of the furniture; the subtle lines of the arms and angled legs add interest to an otherwise simple design, creating a striking and graceful piece.
Did you see a hole in the outdoor furniture market? If so, how are you filling it?
We believe we fill the narrow space where good design and practical pricing meet.
Where should homeowners begin when furnishing a patio, deck, balcony or garden?
The key question for homeowners is “What atmosphere do you want to create?” Think of space outside as outdoor rooms and work from there.
For example, some homeowners want a relaxing environment that brings their indoor living room to the outdoors. In this scenario, we would recommend a warm, comfortable conversation set such as our Siena Deep Seating group:
Others may love to entertain and desire a large dining group where they can enjoy parties and family dinners outside and need a versatile dining set such as the Travira or Hampton:
Thanks to Randy for taking the time to introduce us to Oxford Garden today!
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Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Designer Interview: Damian Velasquez of Half 13

Becky

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Today we’re sitting down with Damian Velasquez of Half 13 to learn more about his vibrant and sculptural line of outdoor furniture.


How did you wind up designing furniture?

I started my path of design and fabrication at 11 – I used to hang out with my father while he made silver jewelry. The time we spent together at the bench was when I started learning about the joinery of metals. I continued to make jewelry throughout high school and college, but it wasn’t until I returned from backpacking through Europe in 1989 that memories of Italian furniture design would unknowingly shape my future forever.

I embarked on a journey of self education from that moment on – I taught myself to weld, to work with wood, acrylic, glass and concrete. I continue to build on that base of knowledge 23 years later.

Half13 O Table

What is your studio like? How do your surroundings influence your designs?

My studio is 7500 square feet of machinery and tools. All aspects of fabrication including CNC plasma cutting, woodworking and powder-coating is done in-house.

I haven’t ever been able to attribute a direct influence from my surroundings to my work. I started back in the day when “Southwestern Style” was at its peak. Modern furniture was not very strong in New Mexico back then. I think what does influence me is the fact that I do live in a unique part of the country and that fosters my desire to be unique in my endeavors as well as my designs.

Where did the name Half 13 come from?

Half 13 is the term for the size of the diamond and guage of the expanded metal that is used in the construction of my outdoor furniture line.

Are there any furniture precedents or designers who inspire your work?

The Half 13 line came about from my love of the chair “How High the Moon” by Shiro Kuramata. Because I was not formally educated in furniture design I never really had any exposure to the history of designers before me to latch onto. I have always loved Shiro’s chair and never though of it as an influence until one day I decided to try my hand at using expanded metal as a medium for furniture. I soon appreciated the challenge posed by this material and the difficulty manipulating it. After much persistence, the current line was born, and adheres to my core values of function blended with aesthetics.

Did you see a hole in the outdoor furniture market? If so, how are you filling it?

I actually envisioned the Half 13 line as a way into sculpture, but soon realized after much feedback from clients that there was a lot lacking in the outdoor furniture market. I quickly addressed the issues posed such as comfort, durability and ease of maintenance; that is why these pieces are now fabricated from stainless steel.

Thank you so much to Damian for letting us get to know him better today.

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Friday, February 8th, 2013

Designer Interview: Peter Novague

Becky

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Today were sitting down with Peter Novague, Chief Designer at Novague. Peter is a product designer who has tackled items from tweezers to yachts. Somewhere in between the two lies The Novague Edge Chair – its form was inspired by Japanese origami, though it’s function, comfortable ergonomics, was the priority. 
Do you have any favorite chairs that inspire your designs?
There are many chairs I love for their form, among which I could name those by Eames, Panton or the Bouroullec Brothers (Vitra). For me, however, the key aspect of a chair is whether it is comfortable to sit on and many products don’t meet this standard; the ergonomics aren’t optimal. My flat is full of beautiful chairs, including the T3 by Maarten Van Severen, one of the most interesting pieces I know.

How did you come up with the Edge Chair?
In our small country, a designer like me gets contracts of a very different type. As my primary focus is on the product design, I work on items as varied as glasses or a smartphone. All my past projects were the result of a compromise between my idea and other circumstances (such as the production costs, technological limitations, deadlines, or continuity of the company product line). When I was working on a smartphone, for instance, I could only choose from a limited selection of plastics, and both the connector positions and dimensions were already fixed.

Yet as I’m now able to fund my own projects, I decided to work on a furniture piece and designing a chair seemed to be a challenging and interesting enterprise.

How do the wide array of items you design inform each other? That is to say, how does designing a yacht or a car influence how you design a chair or a smart phone? Are there any universal ideas that cut across all of these areas in your design philosophy?
Certainly. I think daily about why I do design, what I can bring to it, and what it brings to me in return. And it’s always inspiring to meet with company owners, CEOs and executives. I learn a lot from them, and it’s also perhaps what I enjoy the most about my job.
As for my contribution in making a new product, I find myself as a cleaner: I practically remove an idea of its unnecessary parts. I’m playing with the form and content, aiming to produce a natural-looking product. It’s important that in the end, it only consists of what should be there. In other words, while some products are complex sets of parts due to the manufacture and assembly processes, it is the aim of design to consider the product as a whole, something complete and seamless. The final product should be more than a some of its parts.
The second important idea that resonates with me is a kind of respect towards the history of the product and its previous models.
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in the world; how does it inspire you?
Prague is a splendid place for relaxation at cafés and enjoying the many cultural events it offers. Yet it loses touch with the latest developments in industrial design. In that sense, I’d prefer to have an office in London, New York, or Munich.
What are you working on at Novague right now?
An electric bicycle or a paddle, a typical product of which many people think there’s no more space for further designing and innovation.
Do you have any advice for people who are interested in a career in product design?
Don’t focus on the designers, study the individual products.
What kind of  products do you recommend buying?
Concentrate on things you enjoy. Buying one thing of quality and and keeping it in an empty flat is better than filling one’s life with products that mean a compromise.
Thanks so much to Petr for chatting with us today. Check out The Novague Edge Chair here; check out Novague’s other designs here.
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Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Unison – Made in Chicago

Becky

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We love to feature products that are made in the U.S.A. Check out this video from Chicago’s ABC Channel 7 about how Unison churns out their amazing products right in the heart of Chicago.

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