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Thursday, August 30th, 2012

The New Classics: Predicting Iconic Furniture for 2050

Becky

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I ate up the cover story on The New York Times’ Home Section today; “The Classics, Circa 2050.” For one thing, I’m always trying to determine what the new classics are (i.e. new furniture that will eventually gain icon status, today’s equivalent of a mid-century icon like a Wegner Wishbone Chair or an Eames Shell Chair). Beyond aesthetics and one’s own judgement, a sign that a piece may be well on its way to icon status is if it’s a part of a museum’s collection. Another when prominent architects choose to use it in their own homes.

Anyway, I was very pleased to see a handful of my favorite products that Design Public carries made the cut. Here they are:

The Louis Ghost Chair by Philippe Starck for Kartell (this probably inspired the most discussion)

The Emeco Navy Chair already had mid-century icon status in my book, now the experts are choosing the latest version, made from 111 recycled plastic bottles, the 111 Navy Chair.

Kartell scored again, with their Bourgie Lamp by Ferruccio Laviani

Vitra’s Algue made the cut

Tod Boontje’s Until Dawn Curtain made the cut, we love the way his botanical cuts look on the Midsummer Light

There were a few others I would have added to the list:

Sori Yanagi’s Butterfly Stool, manufactured by Vitra

The Coral 600 Pendant Lamp by David Trubridge

Bend Seating Lucy by Gaurav Nanda

Blu Dot Modulicious Case Goods

Nobody asked me, by the way! But I’m asking you – Which recent furniture and accessories do you think will achieve icon status in 30 years? Keep in mind the process can involve becoming unpopular or passé for a decade or three and then re-appreciated later. Personally, I have trouble looking beyond chairs and lighting most of the time.

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Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Spotlight On D.I.A. (Design in Action)

Becky

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We’re looking for some hot design in action, also known as D.I.A. Email us a photo of design in your home and get $10 off your next order. In addition, if your photo includes you or a friend in the shot you’ll be entered to win a monthly drawing for a $200 gift certificate. If you have a camera on your phone, there’s really no excuse not to do this; we’re not going to critique you on composition, color or cleanliness, I promise! Here are five D.I.A. shots that caught my eye this week.

Thanks to Cindy for sharing this photo of 2 Hybrid Home Limited Edition Large Print Visible Ghosts. They look especially snazzy against that dark wall:

From the awesome photograph adorable baby files, thanks to Christy for posting this picture of the Flensted Mobiles Rollephant Mobile. If I were them, I’d be begging Christy for this picture for a future catalog:

Thanks to Joe for putting his Inhabit Current Organic Throw in Orange into fashion action mode. Lookin’ good Joe!:

I am loving this cutie living large in Fatboy Junior. It’s rather genius to use this modern beanbag to make your sofa more kiddo-friendly and fun. Thanks to Laura for sending this in; I love the way the socks and the book go with the color of the Fatboy!

I love the serene and sophisticated bedroom sent in by Robert Bernard. Underfoot there’s a lovely rug that adds a big pattern to the room without overwhelming it. It’s a perfect use of DwellStudio’s Home Gate Rug in Ash and Cream:

Thanks to everyone who shared their D.I.A.!

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Monday, July 18th, 2011

Designer Interview: John Eric Byers of Jeb Jones

Becky

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Today we’re sitting down with John Eric Byers, the furniture designer behind Jeb Jones. Jeb Jones is an environmentally conscious company that creates furniture distinguished by simple geometric forms, traditional construction methods, hand-tooled surfaces and hand finishing. Based in upstate New York, the designs are influenced by the four seasons and the surrounding countryside. Without further ado, meet John!
Jeb Jones Spools (Short)

What was the first piece of furniture you ever made?

I made a ladder back chair in high school shop. Gave it to my Mom of course.

What has your career path been; what led you into designing furniture?

I always had a desire to work with my hands and with wood. When I discovered the furniture of Wendell Castle I was hooked. I was very fortunate that he had a small school of which I attended for 2 years and then went out on my own.

Jeb Jones Stacking Drawers Dresser

What is your philosophy when approaching the design of a new piece?

Excitement and anxiousness.. I get this kind of  buzz.

What inspires you? What do you do to overcome a creative block?

Honestly, I have never had a creative block. But the best cure to indecision is to stay disciplined and make a decision and hope for the best.

Jeb Jones Wood Ball

Please tell us a bit about the sustainable aspects of your practice and products.

At the onset  I wanted JEB JONES to represent sustainability and enduring quality. We use only FSC select hardwoods and VOC-free environmentally safe opaque and clear coat finishes. Our costs are higher but I refuse to cheap out on the environment . When you purchase one of our pieces, you can feel proud that you are doing right by your planet. And you can feel that way for a lifetime because our pieces will last a lifetime and our warranty supports that.

Can you tell us a quick story about three of your designs and how they came to be?

Most of my designs start as quick thumbnail doodles, I never do working drawings. I often have a few designs being made at the same time and then I begin to see variations on the pieces as they come to life.

Jeb Jones Open Form Bench/Table

The idea of emphasizing the interior space of the Open Form Tables led me to to extend that interior consideration and attention to detail to all the open pieces in the collection.

What’s your workspace like? How do your surroundings in upstate New York influence you work?

My private studio is short 30 foot  commute from my 1860s farm house which makes it easy to go to the studio every day.  I think the simplicity of my lifestyle in the country has contributed to the simplicity of my design forms . The four seasons certainly has influenced my color palette.

Thanks so much to John for sitting down with us today! Here are more of his designs.

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Friday, January 21st, 2011

Flickr Faves of the Week: Hotel OTTO in Berlin

Becky

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This week a group of images in our Fresh New Spaces Group on Flickr caught my attention. They were the minimalist spaces from a boutique hotel in Berlin called Hotel OTTO. Here, the neutral color palette and restrained furnishings let you enjoy the view, the photography and the warm hardwood floors:

Schöne Aussicht von der Frühstücks Lounge im Hotel Otto in Charlottenburg

This simple bedroom contains lots of space saving tips, including using thin but colorful upholstered canvases in lieu of a clunky headboard, and utilizing swing arm sconces to save nightstand space (and of course, when you don’t have room to cram in a nightstand, these are a great solution as well).

Moderne Zimmer im Hotel Otto in der Nähe der Oper Berlin

The palette is kept very simple, letting this iconic Eames fabric get the attention it deserves:

Zimmer im Boutique Hotel Otto in der Nähe vom Savignyplatz in Berlin

However, if a subtle blue, gray and black palette is not for you, they’ve got some electric preppy pink and green options for you. Note the extra shelf on the nightstand, which is great for tucking away books, magazines, and even that annoying glow from a digital clock that can exacerbate an insomniac. They’ve also scooped up some of the floor space with this piece so that you can take some of that stuff out of your suitcase and really get comfortable:

Standard Zimmer im 4 Sterne Hotel Otto in der Nähe vom Kurfürstendamm

Daybed zum Entspannen im Boutique Hotel Otto am Savignyplatz

Thanks so much to Hotel OTTO for sharing these shots with the group! More information about Hotel OTTO

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Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Designer Interview: Adam Fitzgerald of Jackson Street Furniture

Becky

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Recently I have the pleasure of sitting down with (O.K., actually  emailing back and forth with; this is the era of the Golden Globe winning The Social Network) Adam Fitzgerald, architect and furniture designer extraordinaire. I hope you will find as much inspiration from his work and his advice as I have!

Please tell us a bit about how your company came to be – your creative background and how you began to build your
business.

I’ve been an architect for over 20 years, but I’ve designed and built furniture since I was in graduate school. Working
with furniture is satisfying for me because it’s such an intimate thing. We interact with furniture on a daily basis, and
almost constantly at that. Plus it’s easier to take chances with furniture. When you’re doing a building that costs
millions of dollars it can be tough to get the client to try something different. So furniture offers me the opportunity to
experiment, and try things that are “on the edge”. I was also motivated to design and build furniture when I first got
out of school because I couldn’t find good contemporary furniture that was affordable, so it’s always been a goal of
mine to sell a line that is creative, but also affordable to most people.

Please take us on a bit of a virtual tour of your studio. What’s the neighborhood like? What were some of your
priorities when finding a space where you need to be creative?

My current studio is fairly ordinary. It’s a “flex” space with an office and a large open area for the shop. The
neighborhood is a gritty area on the north side of Denver. I really like this kind of neighborhood. There’s a real
mix of businesses and artists in the area. I can find sources for all kinds of materials and ideas just by talking with
people in my building. There’s everything here from another contemporary furniture company to companies that mill
complex machine parts. So the “community” I could say, is very important in choosing a space. Before this location
I had a space here in Denver in a building with ten artists that offered a great a chance for feedback and inspiration.
Unfortunately the owner sold the building, and we were booted to the street!

When I step outside I get a great view of the Denver skyline with the mountains in the background which isn’t too
bad! I can even see the last building I did in the skyline—a 41 story condominium that I finished off last year, right
before I started Jackson Street Furniture.

Where do you start when designing something new? A sketch? A wood sample? A dream?
I get inspiration everywhere. I often get ideas from ordinary things I see that have nothing to do with furniture but
that have a geometry, or character that strikes me as beautiful. I’ve consciously tried to stay away from studying the
history of furniture, or specific styles. I try approach furniture design from the “outside”. In school, I had to study a lot
of architectural history and I think when designing you can actually use “style” as a crutch that keeps you from really
trying more innovative things. I sketch all my ideas. Many of them go nowhere, but I keep them all. I revisit them
every so often. I’ve found that often a sketch from years ago will inspire a new idea when I look at it with fresh eyes.

How do you stay inspired? Any advice for those who are suffering from a creative block?
I always keep a sketchbook close by. When inspiration hits, I sketch it out. Sometimes it will be months or even
years before I come back to it, but I also might go into the studio the next day and start building it. The building
process keeps me inspired. I often start with an idea I’ve sketched but by the time I’m done it’s morphed into
something entirely different. That keeps the creative juices flowing—I love being spontaneous with design.

If I’m “blocked’ creatively, I try to get away from what I’m working on and rejuvenate my mind by doing something
else. I think the subconscious takes over if you’re distracted and before long, new ideas work their way to the
surface.

Onto the furniture! There is something a dash Rat Pack about some of your pieces to me (I mean that as a
compliment – am I way off?), in particular the Zoom Table and BOG (O)Val Table. I also feel a sense of nostalgia
when I look at the Open Wide Table. You clearly balance a touch of retro inspiration with your contemporary designs.
How do you balance the old and the new?

I definitely think you’re right about some of my furniture having a mid century quality, and I’ve had others tell me that
as well. (I like the idea of Dean Martin pulling up next to the Zoom table with a scotch and a cigarette!) But it’s not
really something I consciously strive for. I’ve always been drawn to simple geometry and forms that are streamlined,
but also a bit quirky and unusual—not the more rigid, formal shapes of “classical” modernism. I love the designs you
find on fabrics from the 50’s and 60’s.

Do you have any words of wisdom for creatives who are ready to make the leap into a building a business?
First, if it’s something you love to do—definitely go for it. Life’s short, and you’ve got to take chances. Second, I think
it’s important to dive into the deep end, so to speak. Go “all in”, and immerse yourself in it. To me, that’s the only
way to do your best work, and give yourself and your ideas the best shot at being successful.

Adam, thanks so much for sitting down with us today and sharing your inspirations and advice! To see the Jackson Street Furniture line, click here.

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