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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!

Shop Bend Goods

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Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

(Re)Introducing the Spanner Lounge Chair With Arms

Becky

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We are so pleased to announce that we are carrying The Spanner Lounge Chair with Arms at Design Public. Originally created in 1950 by Russell Spanner (1916-1974), the award-winning designer’s chair has been out of production for more than 50 years. Gus*Design Group worked in collaboration with the Spanner family to revive this iconic chair, meticulously matching the materials, construction and details to the original chair.

The frame is constructed of  solid birch and curved birch plywood and the seat is 100% cotton woven strapping. During the design collaboration with the Spanner family, Gus*Design Group worked hard to match the finishes (both light and dark birch) and strapping colors (choice of green, red or black strapping):

Vintage Ad for Russell Spanner's Furniture

Today we’re talking with Joran Van Lange, the designer at Gus* Design Group who acted as design and production lead for the Spanner Lounge Chair reissue, to learn more about this exciting re-release.

How did you discover the work of Russell Spanner?
I first saw his work in a design lecture while I was in school.  His original designs show up occasionally here in Toronto at vintage and mid-century antique shops, so before we even knew Russell’s background story, we were familiar with the Russell Spanner “look”, which is very recognizable.

What drew you to the Spanner Chair in particular?
There’s something really positive and energetic about the lines and angles of the chair.  It’s bold without being too serious.

Which leads me to, what about its mid-century design still works so well today?

The design is relevant today for the same reasons it was relevant in the 1950s. At that time, North American cities were seeing an explosion of compact, post-war homes, which needed furniture that was smaller scale.  The movement toward condo and small space living in the last decade has meant that consumers are again looking for smaller, lighter furniture pieces.

Aesthetically, the chair embodies the mid-century tradition of leaving components and hardware in plain view.  Nothing is hidden by panels or upholstery.  There’s a transparency in that which people appreciate.

What is the history of the chair?

The Lounge Chair was designed by Russell while he was working as foreman at his family’s woodworking factory.  It’s believed that he used some of the jigs and parts of other industrial products to form the basic components for the Lounge Chair.  As an example, the frame for the seat shares the same proportions and joinery as the industrial battery boxes which the factory produced at the time.

Where are the reproductions produced?

We felt that because this chair was originally designed and produced in Toronto, it was important to carry on that legacy and produce the re-issue here as well.

Did you learn anything new about design and production from the process of putting the Spanner Chair back into production?


We realized once we began to dissect the original chair that there are some very sophisticated joinery details going on.  Everything must be manufactured perfectly in order for the design to work.

It works beautifully.

Purchase a Spanner Lounge Chair with Arms at Design Public

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Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Sale! Kartell and Magis 15% off This Week

DesignPublic.com

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We know now that the weather is warm that you may be lacking some cool yet comfy outdoor furniture. So we’ve slashed prices on outdoor selections from Kartell and Magis. The Kartell sale runs through June 8, 2014 and the Magis sale runs through June 9, 2014. Completely outfit your space or fill in a hole with a settee, sofa, armchair, lounge chair or bistro table and dining chairs. Here’s a few of the highlights from the sale to tempt you. And P.S., many of these items work just as well indoors too!

Kartell Bubble Armchair

Cozy up like James Spader and William Shatner used to at the end of every episode of Boston Legal in this new classic, the playful Kartell Bubble Armchair. Price is slashed from $800 to $680 now through June 8, 2014. The Bubble also comes in a sofa version.

Kartell Magic Hole Sofa

For a more streamlined look, consider the Kartell Magic Hole Sofa. This is a wonderful piece to set out on the front porch for curb appeal, waving to neighbors and watching the world go by. It also will give a hint to your modern and/or contemporary interior from the street. Currently on sale for $935 from $1100 through June 8, 2014.

Magis Table One Bistro, Outdoor

Make dining al fresco a breeze with this modern bistro table from Magis. It comes in a square top or round top version and comes in table height and high-top table height. It’s been marked down from $999 to $849.15 now through June 9, 2014.

Magis Chair One, Concrete Base

Pair the table height with a pair or two of the Magis Chair Ones, now on sale from $1378 to $1171.30 for two, now through June 9, 2014. Choose from red, black or white.

Magis Paso Doble Chaise Lounge

For a more relaxed pose, treat yourself to a Magis Paso Doble Chaise Lounge. This curved silhouette means you’ll be comfy reading a book, chatting over frozen cocktails or just soaking up some rays. On sale from $1979 to $1682.15 through June 9, 2014.

There are plenty more items to tempt you for the rest of the week.

Shop the Kartell sale

Shop the Magis sale

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Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Five Must-Have Dining Chairs

Becky

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I’m a chair nut. When I moved, my moving men kept putting every single side chair I owned into my dining room, their permanent locations, T.B.D. By the time the dining room table arrived, there wasn’t any room to put it in the sea of chairs. Remarkably, they all found a spot, as I love an occasional chair here or there and don’t really tend toward matchy-matchy sets.

Anyway, from one chair nut to others or potential others, here are chairs to be on the lookout for at yard sales and chairs to invest in for your permanent (museum-ish yet functional) collection. I’m going to stick to five dining chairs as otherwise we’d be here all day and I have other stuff to do, but it’s a solid start.

1. Anything by Thonet, particularly with bent wood. These date back to the mid-century. Of the 19th century, that is, somewhere ’round ever-stylin’ Vienna. They still look fly today. Love. Scour second-hand websites and yard sales. A Thonet is a great score.

2. The Emeco Navy Chair (1006 Chair). These chairs were built to stand up to violent seas and dudes in the Navy. We’re talking torpedo blasts on the side of a destroyer. Not only are these suckers strong, they have classic mid-century industrial style that will never fade.

3. The Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair (1949). This versatile chair adds warmth and style to many different kinds of dining rooms. Though first impulse is to go all Danish modern around it, it works very well in more traditional spaces, spaces with Asian style, eclectic rooms as well as very minimalist rooms.

4. Arne Jacobsen’s Series 7 Chair (1955). Re-released, this classic is often imitated by chain stores and catalogs – don’t fall for the imitations; having a licensed chair is worth the investment. This versatile and curvy little number looks great for formal dining, casual eat-in kitchen dining and at a desk or dressing table.

5. The Kartell Masters Chair (2010-ish?). Philippe Starck mashed up the silhouettes of three chairs here – Jacobsen’s Series 7, and two others we didn’t have room to include – Eero Saarinen’s Tulip armchair, and the Eames’ Eiffel Chair to get this meaningful back.

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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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