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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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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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Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Emeco Chairs and Stools Are as Fresh and Modern as Ever

Becky

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I love seeing my favorite pieces used in fresh designs, both commercial and residential. We recently received some gorgeous shots of the iconic Emeco chairs in action that I thought I’d share.

This is Urban Farmer bar by environmental designer, David Ashen of D-ASH Design. The space combines the 1951 Barstools from Emeco with reclaimed materials such as a 20-foot communal table. You can visit it on the 8th floor lobby of the Nines Hotel in Portland. The restaurant honors local culinary traditions, sourcing ingredients from organic farms nearby. But can you can go visit the cult that raised the chicken you want to order like Fred and Carrie did on Portlandia? I’m not sure.

Here’s a closer look at the 1951 stool. It’s looking better than ever in 2012.

This may be one of the most aesthetically pleasing workplace cafeterias I’ve ever seen. Well, it’s more of an intimate kitchen, and it’s at the headquarters of Clif Bars. It’s called Kali’s Kitchen and their website is pretty great; check it out. The employees over there are eating a lot of other things besides energy bars! Designed by ZGF Architecture, the kitchen design prioritized sustainability and re-using materials. Appropriately, the seating includes the 1006 Navy Chair and Navy Stools, which are made with 80% recycled aluminum.

Here’s a close up of the Navy Stool.

If you have an Emeco fetish like I do, you’ll love checking out their Tumblr stream. I also rounded some Navy Chairs up a long time ago for my other gig at Houzz. Designers tend to pick the chairs for the freshest rooms around, whether at a home’s kitchen island or in the chicest of bars and restaurants.

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Monday, January 16th, 2012

2012 Design Trends: Tufted Furniture Goes Modern

Becky

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Tufted furniture is having a moment right now. While this design trend is typically a traditional design element, some mid-century modern designers embraced tufting, giving it a more streamlined and modern look (think the Eames Lounge Chair or Edward Wormley for Dunbar). Others would reduce the number of buttons; some sofas had just one button centered on each back cushion.

Much in the same way, today’s designers are taking the trend and embracing it in contemporary ways. Here’s a look at how some of our designers are playing with tufted furniture in 2012.

TrueModern has several fresh takes on tufting. The Luna Sofa has just one simple row of buttons that create a subtle tufting across the back cushions. These buttons also emphasize a horizontal line:

On all versions of TrueModern’s Dane Sofa, the back pillows just a hint at tufting. It hints at a less-rounded grid pattern and there are no upholstery buttons required.

The One-Night Stand Sleeper Sofa from Blu Dot only has four buttons but they all stand out and are a wonderful graphic touch:

Blu Dot also applied some tufting fun to an armchair. The Animal Lounge Chair has four simple dots on the seat that play off its blocky shape.

The OFFI Perch Lounge Leather Chair pays homage to Mies van de Rohe’s Barcelona chair, complete with sleek tufted leather (and a handy shelf on the bottom):

Fatboy’s Avenue First Blocks have a grid like pattern of stitching that’s a modern take on tufting.
Wondering exactly what these pieces are? They come in different shapes and colors and can be used singly as ottomans or seats, or put together into all sorts of  configurations, from a big square to the letter “f”. Here it’s kind of like a snake:

Has tufted furniture caught your eye or do you like your upholstery strictly streamlined? Please weigh in in the comments section!

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