Inspired by classic design, London-based designer Russell Pinch is known for bringing “rigorous simplicity and sculptural sensitivity” to his work. Simple yet surprisingly complex, Pinch’s furniture often references elements of Modernist sculpture, Shaker, Georgian or Scandinavian design, which he combines to create an original, timeless look. Pinch is passionate about strong shapes and the marriage of engaging form, expert craftsmanship and materials, striving to create work that is “considered and comfortable, but also with a definite pulse.” Together with wife Oona, he recently won the 2013 British Design Award for Best British Brand for their furniture design studio Pinch.
The desire to make and create has been engrained in Blake Tovin for as long as he can remember. “There was always a mysterious sense of satisfaction and enjoyment that came with making things, and as a kid, I was naturally attracted to that,” Tovin says. “As I grew older, I came to realize that creating things was an essential part of life for me.” After graduating from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Tovin began producing handcrafted furniture and accessories for clients and galleries before broadening his reach to the international retail world of home design. He realized his own vision in 1992 when he founded Tovin Design Limited. His studio in Nyack, New York—a renovated warehouse that houses his design studio, prototype shop and gallery space—sits on the Hudson River just 20 miles north of Manhattan. Throughout his career, Tovin has seen his work evolve, yet his approach has remained the same from the start: “I always try and reduce a design down to its essential elements, avoid ornament, concentrate on proportion and focus on materials and finishes to create products that are understated and comfortable to live with.” Favoring the simplicity of wood, Tovin finds inspiration for his designs in visually interesting objects as profound as a great architectural detail or as mundane as a fence post. “The result is the same,” he says, “a sense of excitement about an idea that sends you to the drawing board to explore the possibilities.”
For Bill Eastburn, the beauty of design lies in the doing—participating, building, inventing. “I approach each design as if it is an invention, always looking for new angles and possibilities,” he says. Eastburn’s innate curiosity and industrious nature were apparent early on. Following his studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Parsons the New School of Design in New York, Eastburn spent several years restoring old barns, an avocation that evolved into a career designing and building furniture. In 1992, he founded William Eastburn Designs, a design-and-build firm specializing in benchmade, one-of-a-kind furniture.
From his open-air, light-filled home studio in his 1825 farmhouse situated in the historic town of New Hope, Pennsylvania, Eastburn designs with a deft eye for the details. He is drawn to beautiful forms, high function and clean lines: “I view the form versus function debate through the eyes of the Shakers, where beauty rests on utility.” Eastburn’s harmonious home and work environments are natural settings for inspiring creativity. Kneading and baking bread or hand-tying trellises in the garden, he says, helps to stop time, clear the mind and allow space for the creative process.
London-based Bethan Gray can trace her love of natural materials and appreciation for thoughtful design and craftsmanship to her Welsh roots. Her great-great grandmother defied nineteenth-century convention to become a cabinetmaker, while her grandfather worked as a forester and would make small, carved objects for her as a child. Favoring naturally luxurious materials, such as leather, marble and wood, her designs are reflective of her personal history and strongly tied to traditional Welsh culture and craft. The founder of Bethan Gray Design was first discovered at the prestigious New Designers show in London and has since earned numerous accolades, including the British Design Guild Mark for Excellence.
Helping to educate and inspire young designers, Gray is a visiting lecturer at Central Saint Martins in London. Her designs—warm and contemporary, timeless and elegant—are shaped by the constant source of inspiration she finds in her adopted hometown of London, and on her travels abroad. “London is a vibrant city and creatively exciting—from the art and design exhibitions to the diverse architecture and people,” she says. “But I also love to escape London as often as possible to get a different perspective, culturally and geographically.” Gray documents her explorations in photographs, keeping them in her modern, airy West London studio as a visual reference for developing new ideas. Most recently, Bethan Gray was named Best British Designer by the 2013 British Design Awards.
Brooklyn-based industrial designer Olivia Barry attributes her inspiration as an artist to two influential women in her life. Mentored in the love of clay and glazes as a young girl by her grandmother, Barry also had the rare opportunity for 12 years to work side-by-side as assistant to the legendary mid-century ceramist Eva Zeisel.
Barry’s appreciation for timeless style defines her work. Inspired by textures and patterns found in architecture and nature, she creates clean, simple forms that she envisions lasting forever and mixing seamlessly with other designs. Having practiced pottery almost all her life, Barry continues to find the challenge of creating a useful product invigorating since the design process is never the same.
The discipline of architecture laid a solid foundation for Mark Daniel’s future in furniture design. With a natural curiosity for how things are made, the Chicago-based designer would build forts and model airplanes, and tinker with bikes as a boy. His affinity for structure and mechanics eventually led him to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from Georgia Tech, with his senior year spent at the esteemed École d’Architecture-Tolbiac in Paris. It was while studying in Paris that Daniel began to explore the possibilities of furniture and product design: “I learned to appreciate that what goes into a space defines it as much as the walls that enclose that space.” Daniel practiced that philosophy while working for a diverse range of firms where he learned to approach design and fabrication from a custom perspective. During this time, he also tested the waters as an independent designer, exhibiting and selling his work in local galleries and boutiques.
Eager to realize his own vision, Daniel formed Slate Design in 2001 to create modern furniture and products that are an honest expression of form and function. His team’s extensive portfolio of work favors clean, simple forms brought to life through a variety of materials, including wood, stainless steel, ceramics and blown glass.
Anna Lísa Sigmarsdóttir
Born in Reykjavik, Iceland, industrial designer Anna Lísa Sigmarsdóttir now calls San Franscisco home. Her studies at California College of Arts and Crafts brought her to the city by the bay, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1997. From her home studio overlooking downtown, she creates objects that combine the clean lines of Scandinavian design with the casual ease of California, favoring simple shapes and practical function. That approach won Sigmarsdóttir and her husband a commission to design a public drinking fountain in her hometown of Reykjavik, which was chosen for production and unveiled in 2000. Sigmarsdóttir enjoys creating beautiful, lasting objects from natural materials, such as wood, clay and glass. Her work is particularly "inspired by traveling to new places, meeting people and seeing how they live and the things they make."
Jennifer Goldberger began painting in oils at age 11 and has been working in the medium ever since. She received her formal training in art at the University of Alabama Birmingham and Virginia Commonwealth University. Although educated in the art of oils, Goldberger possesses a natural curiosity about art making that has led her to experiment with many other media, including printmaking, collography and, most recently, encaustic painting. Based in Richmond, Virginia, she continues to be influenced by great artists of the past including the modern masters of Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism. Her work has been show locally at numerous galleries and in regional exhibitions.
Julie S. Graham
Time spent studying and visiting museums in the world’s great cultural centers had a profound influence on Julie S. Graham’s artistic practice. As an undergraduate student at Hood College in Maryland, she spent her junior year abroad in Paris, and several years later, Graham attended London’s Central School of Art, where she received her graduate degree in fine arts. Based in Boston, Graham works primarily as a painter, although sculpture is also an important part of her practice. Her work is shown around the country and can be found in many private and corporate collections. She is currently on staff as a faculty member of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
As a child growing up in the American Southwest, Ben Gordon had seen his share of cowboy scenes and desert landscapes. His interests lie with more abstract, contemporary forms of painting, which he had seen during family outings and school field trips to the Phoenix Museum of Art. He continued to investigate modern art as a student at the University of Arizona. Currently based in Seattle, Gordon reflects on the landscapes of not only his native Arizona but of all the places he has lived in the United States, rendering them in acrylics as forms of naturally occurring architecture.
American artist Elvis Swift has been a doodler since childhood—art infractions during math class often sent him in a straight line to the principal’s office. A ball of string or a spool of wire provide inspiration as he imagines ways their continuous lines might be arranged to create something decorative or illustrative (it comes as no surprise that his favorite food is spaghetti). Swift’s illustrations have inked the pages of Time, National Geographic, Real Simple, The Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone. His internationally acclaimed work also has been recognized by the American Institute of Graphic Artists and Communication Arts magazine, and featured throughout the world of retail.
Designer Josi Severson speaks volumes in her graphic, hand-drawn designs. She chose to join the world of design because: “I have something to say. It’s a conversation I want to be a part of.” From her downtown Minneapolis studio, the founder of eco-minded Home Fashion Fabrics by Josi Severson sketches patterns with a concentration on geometric forms—a style that has been described both as Scandinavian and African-influenced. “I enjoy clean lines balanced with uninhibited use of color and texture like you see in textiles of those regions,” Severson says. “I’ve been to both areas and have been so inspired by the people and styles.” A graduate of the School for Fine Arts and Economics at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and the Academy of Art in San Francisco, Severson finds inspiration in everything from architecture, fashion and classic cars to landscapes, shapes of everyday objects and graphic repetition. However, music has always been most influential to her: “It defines the rhythm and harmony that I try to present in my work.”
A self-described “modern gypsy,” Ivan Lacroix makes his residence in Montreal but is always on the road. Travel, international contacts and a chameleon-like ability to blend in provide Lacroix with a wealth of inspiration, often found in the most unlikely spots. Having lived in both the United States and Canada, he was exposed an early age to both American and European cultures, developing a design collection that holds appeal on both sides of the Atlantic. Brought up in a family that had been in the wood trade for generations, Lacroix’s earliest exposure to design was working in his family’s furniture factory. Eager to update the firm’s high quality yet outdated output, he eventually was given carte blanche to revamp its designs, and the company soon became the equivalent of a design school for the young designer. The founder of Atelier Lacroix et Lacroix, he creates classics with a twist, pieces that appear deceivingly simple yet are crafted with the utmost attention to quality and craftsmanship.
London-based designer Aaron Probyn discovered his passion for furniture making when as a young man he worked as a carpenter. However, it was while buying and selling midcentury lighting and furniture at age 20 that Probyn realized he had an emotional attachment to design, form and materials. After earning a degree in product and furniture design from Kingston University in London, Probyn explored home design in the retail world before launching his own business. Today, he designs and creates from his bright, airy 1930s industrial studio. Overlooking London’s rooftops and neighboring reservoirs, the space has a dedicated workshop that allows him to be spontaneous in his design process. With a keen eye for proportion and detail, Probyn describes his aesthetic as material-driven and softly minimalist in form: “I believe there is something very primitive about design. As human beings, we feel the need to make objects that enrich our lives physically and emotionally. I have a very physical approach to design, and I enjoy playing around with new materials and finding new processes.”
Industrial designer Carter McGuyer found his calling when he spotted an iconic, surrealist stool by a late-twentieth century designer on the cover of a design magazine. "It was so beautiful and unique for that time, it made me realize that this is what I want to do," he says. Then a student at Auburn University, McGuyer promptly changed majors from architecture to industrial design. Based in northwest Alabama, he went on to form the Carter McGuyer Design Group in 2006, which designs products that are equal parts beautiful, functional and cost-efficient—many of which live in the kitchen drawer. Defining his work as clean, tailored and modern, McGuyer has received numerous accolades for his work, including the 2013 Housewares Design Award for Best in Category and 2013 Red Dot Design Award.
New York-based illustrator Julia Rothman drew a focused, linear path to her career as an artist. Raised on a small island in the Bronx called City Island, she always loved drawing as a child. Her interest peaked in high school when Rothman’s mother took her to see a retrospective on a popular artist whose work was driven by New York street culture. Rothman was so inspired by what she saw that she drew a mural in the artist’s iconic style on her bedroom wall—in permanent marker. When the time came to choose a college, she applied to only one: Rhode Island School of Design. “When I was accepted and decided to attend, it meant I was devoted to making art my career,” Rothman says.
Her work—illustrating, making patterns and curating art projects—continues to be her biggest passion. Rothman’s process begins by hand-sketching or painting her designs, then digitally manipulating them. And when she’s in need of inspiration, she simply takes a walk around her Brooklyn neighborhood. “I am inspired by random things—an antique shop window filled with old typewriters, a pair of shoes a man is wearing on the subway, the rows of hubcaps for sale at a body shop,” Rothman says. “All of these things have inspired patterns I made.
Working in an environment she describes as “organized chaos,” Ana Reza-Hadden takes inspiration from everything from family photos to her view of the Bay Area. She espouses the value of learning from other designers as well. “You cannot be a good designer without learning from what others have done before,” she asserts. Proud of her ability to connect the dots in ways that don’t seem obvious, Reza-Hadden’s work offers clever and elegant design solutions that incorporate grace and proportion in unexpected ways.
The California-born designer grew up in Medellín, Colombia, spending her formative years nurtured by a family of architects and designers. Reza-Hadden left Colombia for San Francisco, where she studied industrial design at the University of San Francisco’s California College of Design and met her husband, also a designer and also from a family of designers. Residing in San Rafael, California, Reza-Hadden established her own design studio, ARH Creative, in 1999, creating a wide range of products ranging from flatscreens to chocolates.
New York City-based designer Barbara Eigen finds as much inspiration in her urban environment as she does keeping a close watch on nature. Her ceramics possess a modern, organic approach that combines her appreciation of architectural forms with the subtly shifting character of plant and animal life.
A graduate of Cornell University, Eigen also studied ceramics at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Alfred University. In the early 1970s, she taught ceramics as a professor of fine arts at the University of Costa Rica, where her work was featured in two exhibitions sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Returning stateside, she began creating ceramics for the home market in her New York loft. Her designs have received widespread media attention and have been featured in a number of fine arts books.
For Nick Holland, inspiration comes any time, anywhere. That’s why he’s always prepared to make notes, make a sketch or snap a photo. “I’m a very visual person,” he explains. “I always carry a little camera with me to record unexpected sources of design ideas, looking with curiosity at everything and everyone around me.”
At 17, Holland saw a brochure on product design and knew instantly that he had found his calling. He attended the Royal College of Art in London earning a master’s degree with honors. After years of designing products as varied as construction equipment, telephones and medical equipment, he established his own business specializing in table and houseware design. Holland’s firm achieved great success, receiving numerous awards and having several products in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s ceramic collection. Today, Nick Holland Design is based in Porto, Portugal, consulting on product design for an international client base.
1 - 20 of 22
Paola Navone is a world-renowned architect, designer, art director, interior decorator, industrial planner, creator of events and, in her words, "a little bit of an anthropologist." She is a dreamer, she is curious, she appreciates the eclectic. She is Italian by birth but calls the world home. She is a natural entertainer who finds joy in impromptu gatherings around the table to celebrate a beautifully simple menu. We invited Paola to design a collection of tableware and furnishings exclusively for Crate and Barrel. We welcome you to dinner with friends...and Paola Navone
First | Prev. |