Thursday, May 29th, 2014
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After graduating from The University of Cincinnati with a degree in classics, Brad Musuraca noticed his friends in the architecture school working on their final furniture-building projects, and thought that it looked like a lot of fun. He carved out a spot in his family’s factory to start experimenting during his free time outside of working there, working with wood and metal and creating prototypes. This led to him starting his own furniture company, Tronk Design. Here’s more about how he got his start, his design process and advice for budding designers. Thanks to Brad for answering our questions today.
Tronk Design Hudson Table with Inlay
What was the first piece of furniture you ever built?
The very first piece I ever built was a tall long thin table you might put in a hallway and throw your keys on it as you came into the house. It was very simple because I only had one machine, so the wood came from Lowes and I stained it, trying to make it NOT look like cheap pine. It’s actually still around in my Dad’s office.
Cincinnati is chock full of great design history — are there any examples of local designers/designs that inspire you in particular?
Honestly I really like Charley Harper, as does everyone I suppose. I actually tried to get in touch with their studio to see if I could integrate some of his iconic animal designs into my furniture. Nothing happened with that, but I’m still holding out hope.
Your work has the vibe of a contemporary take on mid-century modern. What are some of your favorite elements/principles from that era that you like to use in your work today?
I try and keep the furniture as slim and elegant as possible without sacrificing functionality. Yes it is very minimalistic, but each item has something subtle that adds a little pop to catch the eye. Ultimately mid-century furniture was designed to be high quality, but also able to be mass produced.
Can you walk us through your process a bit, from the time you get an idea to the finished piece of furniture?
I’d like to start off by saying that I tend to have a bit of an obsessive personality. I will literally think about a new product idea non-stop for days. I have a long list of ideas sitting on my desk that honestly, I will probably never get to make. Usually I just end up making the latest idea that pops into my head.
It starts off with a prototype, roughly fashioned with cheap wood from the hardware store. Then I’ll make whatever changes I would like from there, because nothing ever seems to look exactly as you imagined it. Once that is done I’ll make another prototype out of cheap wood, but this time do all the joints properly to see what it will actually be like in reality to make the thing. If that goes well then I’ll make all the appropriate jigs and make another prototype out of slightly better wood, which I usually stain to get a feel for the color of the final piece. This prototype inevitably ends up in my house. Finally I’ll make the real deal and make up a manufacturing direction sheet from everything I just learned through the prototyping process. A lot more methodical work than inspiration, unfortunately!
I love the way the Franklin Shelf works a corner — how did you come up with that?
I just wanted to design some type of shelf that fit into a corner. I went through all the usual suspects you would imagine. Then I thought “well, what if it was just a flat board in an L shape?” Then I figured it would need support so I added another shelf and connected them. Then I thought it would be interesting if they could stack, so I added another shelf on top, which gave me 3 layers of shelving. Then I thought that if the user wanted to put something on the shelf that was larger than 10″ in height, they would have a problem. So I made one side of the top shelf a little shorter than the shelf below it — this created a little shelf where you can put a vase or something else a little taller. Then for the sake of symmetry I did the same thing to the opposite side of the bottom shelf.
Do you have any advice for budding furniture designers about running their own shops?
Be prepared to work 60+ hour weeks for little or no pay, and focus on PR.
What do you have on the boards next?
Thursday, March 6th, 2014
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Pssst… our sister store, Danish Design Store, is having a sale:
If you’ve been eyeing a modern icon like Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair (they come in all sorts of fun colors in addition to various woods and finishes),
a PH Snowball Pendant by Louis Poulsen,
or perhaps a Finn Juhl Nyhavn Table with Tray Unit
… now is the time. The store has an amazing selection of Danish classics and new designs, so be sure to stop by. On top of the 15% off, there is also free shipping.*
The sale is only running from March 6 to March 18th 2014. Shopping pieces that grace so many of the world’s museum’s permanent collections is a big decision. Buying one is a decision you will never regret. Here’s what you do — go browse, go to bed, sleep on it and dream about it in your home and imagine yourself using it. Then do the math — think about how much you’ll save and figure out if brown-bagging it for a month will make it affordable for you. When you wake up, your decision will be made.
By the way, Danish Design Store is curated in such a way that if the piece you have your eye on isn’t already a sought-after icon, you can bet someday it will be, like the Panton Bachelor Chair, which looks like someone dreamed it up while playing with a paper clip and staring at a classic white window shade.
Shop the sale
*The sale excludes the following brands: PP Mobler, One Collection, Hay, Innovation, Menu, Glerups & Stelton
Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
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Hey All! If any of you are in Atlanta between now and January 30 2013, I highly recommend swinging by the Paul Rand exhibition over at the Museum of Design Atlanta. It was very inspiring; I had no idea one man was behind so many amazing logos, book designs and graphic design principles. Unfortunately, trying to Google “Paul Rand” brings up some a lot of unrelated sites, so I’ve included the direct link to the exhibit at the end of this post.
MoDA is located right across Peachtree Street from the High Museum of Art in a very cool building that was redesigned/remodeled/given a green makeover by Perkins + Will. The MoDA space is on the first floor; its entrance is next to the entrance to the public library.
The lobby is filled with inspiring quotes from Rand, as well as an interactive exercise and a four-minute video.
Rand looked to so many different things for inspiration, including buoys:
The exhibition included a slew of amazing book cover designs by Rand.
His iconic UPS logo is one of his best known. What I enjoyed much was some of the original mock ups they have. The IBM rebus graphic below is just cut-up paper affixed with Scotch tape:
The resulting graphic:
The exhibition also included fabric he’d designed, his own chair designed by Alvar Aalto, and the plans for his and his wife’s modern home, which I would love to learn more about as it looked like a very thoughtful mid-century mod abode with a cool courtyard. I’ll see what I can find and get back to you on that later.
Another highlight were these Rand-designed covers for Direction when he was in his 20s.
Alright, I’ll stop spoiling the entire show for you; click here to learn more about it and MoDA.
Friday, May 17th, 2013
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We are so proud that we offer Saarinen Dining Tables from Knoll. They are a mid-century modern classic designed by Eero Saarinen to help “clear up the slum of legs,” both table and chair. Pedestal bases reduce the number of legs from four to one, and both the tables and chairs have come to be known more commonly as tulip tables and tulip chairs.
Available with marble, laminate, granite, wood veneers and more, the tables come in several sizes. The greatest thing about these tables is that they fit in everywhere, from serving as the main dining table in the center of an elegant dining room to a small kitchen table in a colorful eat-in kitchen. The table is a classic mid-century modern piece that does not go out of style.
A nod to Sputnik. This retro-inspired room by Kristen Grove is definitely mid-century modern inspired, but has a fresh look with its lovely floors and updated takes on .
Clean organic contemporary. Croma Design mixes pedestal and legs, marble and wood with a backdrop of grasscloth in this harmonious contemporary dining space.
A mix of old and new. A wide age-range of furnishings within traditional architecture creates quite the combination. The table fits nicely into a modest-sized corner, and in this case, plays off the curves of the classic Cherner chairs and Patricia Urquoila Caboche light. (via Remodelista, photograph by Photography Lisa Duncan and Wayne Miller)
Paired with its old friends, the Eames and Mr. Nelson. This room has a warm yet somewhat minimal vibe, combining several mid-century classics in including Eames chairs and a Nelson Ball Pendant Light. The sideboard, pewter pieces and artwork warm it up and infuse it with the owners’ personalities, thus keeping it from looking like a catalog shot. (via Plastolux, photograph by Chris Nguyen)
Partying it up with bentwood chairs. A Saarinen table paried with fanciful bentwood chairs makes for an yummy eat-in kitchen table, slum of legs be damned!
Shop all Saarinen tables
Thursday, October 11th, 2012
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People, we’re having a sale on all things Vitra for the next week (through Oct. 18, 2012). In honor of that, let’s take a look at some of Vitra’s iconic products.
Vitra produces George Nelson’s mid-century modern clock designs. This is the Sunburst Clock, but there is a slew of diverse designs to choose from.
These are Panton Chairs, also known as “S Chairs” – designed by Vernor Panton back in the sixties. They come in lots of yummy colors. If you’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on some of these, do it this week while you can save 15%.
In addition to the cutest product shot ever, we have the Eames Elephant. The prototype was designed by Charles and Ray Eames back in 1945, and was rendered in plywood. Vitra actually put it into production over 60 years later, this time in polypropylene.
This is Jasper Morrison’s Cork Stool. There are three different shapes to choose from. I like them because they are so versatile – you can tuck them underneath a console table as extra seating in a tight space, use them to hold a table lamp and cocktails as a side table, or just enjoy them as sculpture.
Sori Yanagi’s designed this Butterfly Stool in 1954. I feel calmer just looking at it.
This is a thick composition of Vitra’s Algue. These are plastic pieces that snap together to form anything from small sculptural wall hangings to thick, vine-like screens.
Finally, take a virtual visit to Vitra’s campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany. My favorite building is Vitrahaus and Lounge Chair Atelier by Herzog & de Meuron, which received a ton of buzz when it first went up back in 2010.