DESIGN DISPATCH NEW YORK: Cappi Williamson takes the pulse at BKLYN DESIGNS
New York Design Week kicks off this weekend with the sixth annual Bklyn Designs show in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. All of the contemporary furnishings, lighting, and accessories in the show are made and/or designed in Brooklyn, and it shows. The borough is known for its creative, cutting-edge population and the exhibitors did not disappoint. For more information about what's coming up contact the lovely Zannah Mass, Cultural Affairs Director at Two Trees Now, a few short conversations with some of the most innovative up-and-comers at Saturday’s showing...
Takeshi Miyakawa was born in Tokyo and worked in construction there before moving to New York in 1989. There, he began working for Stephan Rohner of Stephan Rohner Furniture in Brooklyn. In 2001, he founded his own firm, Takeshi Miyakawa Design, and began working on his own projects, such as his 2007 installation for Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter’s swank Monkey Bar. Here, Curated Object talks with him at the show:
Rite of Spring
Cappi Williamson: What informs your work / inspires your designs?
Takeshi Miyakawa: I would say fragments of life. I walk around the street and I look at some objects – some garbage or a building’s construction scaffolding - and sometimes I get some inspirations. For instance, [my installation, “Rite of Spring”] looks like a building under construction or a tree form.
CW: Since you’re inspired by the everyday world around you, and your based in Brooklyn, is the neighborhood special to you in that way?
TM: The first job I got after I came to NYC nineteen years ago was in Brooklyn, just a block away from the shop I’m in now. I was away from Williamsburg for thirteen or fourteen years, but I’ve returned to my roots.
CW: What are you working on now?
TM: All seven pieces are new designs and the installation [“Rite of Spring”] just for the show. All of them are the first pieces I’ve done as experiments; if I get older, I’ll get to do more perhaps.
CW: Talk about the challenge of exhibiting in a space like this, especially with such a large-scale, suspended installation.
TM: Structurally, this is a very difficult piece. It takes the form of a tree, but the structure of a tree is so efficient; it has fiber to support it, but this is just wood. The challenge is how light you can make it, so I used only bass wood so that it could be suspended.
CW: And incidentally, the people having the most fun at the show were the kids throwing quarters and dimes down Miyakawa’s installation “Suck Your Friend’s Money.” Made of clear acrylic and polycarbonate, quarters could “race” down two intertwined paths, turning over and over along the way. Happily, the context was lost on the children as Miyakawa told us the piece was inspired by Bernie Madoff.
We caught up with Matthew Warren, of TMRnyc (Total Metal Resource), to find out what inspires the designer/electrician/math enthusiast to dream up his innovative, functional pieces.
Cappi Williamson: So, you have to tell me, what made you realize that you could make great looking desks and tables with plugs around the sides? Was there an a-ha moment?:
Matthew Warren: The pieces were inspired by everyday life and a need to plug things in all day long. We all have things that are running on batteries that need charging and everyone has laptops now. People need a little table to keep things together for them. Form decides the solutions.
CW: Tell me about the design. Every table base seems to be different.
MW: The design is an ode to the cube. We like geometry at TMR. The four-legged model is a design that came from playing around with moving the legs on the standard table. The other designs are an ode to the artist Sol LeWitt’s series of cubist shapes that we really got inspired by.
CW: And the bright, playful colors…?
MW: They’re just fun!
CW: What brought you to Bklyn Designs this year?
MW: This is our first year at Bklyn Designs. This is a great show and great group of people and we wanted to do it and get our stuff out there. It’s been amazing so far – really busy.
William Couig, the expert glassblower behind Furthurdesign, talks to The Curated Object about what’s new, design in the recession, and how sometimes artists “just have to go with it.”
Cappi Williamson: Design inspiration – forms that would suit glass suit the material?
William Couig:I look for ideas that take advantage of not only glass’s natural attributes, but the ideas that lend themselves well to the traditional glass-blowing techniques we use. For example, for the bulb pendant we used a pretty common technique where we fused two bubbles together so you can get that nice, clean color line. That way, we could use this Opaline color for the bottom and use the gray for the threaded part of the bulb. I just so happened to find the sockets so I got that nice, black cap on the top. Yesterday, a woman thought it looked like a baby bottle, so maybe we’ll see one of those next year. It all happens naturally.
CW: So what’s new this year?
The Eclipse series. For these pieces, the different colors expand at different rates when you’re blowing it up, so the grey is hotter than the red or the gold, so that side ends up being a little bigger and it makes the crescent shape, It’s a free form thing; it’s one of those things where you go with it instead of trying to fight it and you get something beautiful.
CW: As a Bklyn Designs veteran, how do you think this show compares to other years, especially in the light of everything going on with the economy?
WC: This is my sixth year. It’s funny, shows this year, I’ve found, aren’t nearly as bad as you’d imagine. People are still coming through and spending money. People go to stores and they have a lot of back stock, so shoppers keep seeing the same things. If they come to the shows, they see a lot of new stuff, and I think they’re a little more excited and willing to buy.
Carla Franciose, Pratt Institute Student
Carla Franciose is an undergraduate senior majoring in industrial design, whose piece “Loop End Table” was chosen to be part of the show by interior design professor Tim Richartz, who curated this year’s Pratt Booth.
Cappi Williamson: How were the students picked to participate in the show?
Carla Franciose: Tim decided. He went around to all the studios and secretly picked out the best work that came out of the industrial design apartment this year.
CW: Tell me about the table. How did it come about?
CF: I was using foam and I made these ribbon-like modules and then when I repeated it, I found I could make different forms for the product. By creating the module five times, I was able to create an end table with this continuous, fluid design.
CW: Who are some of the designers that inspire you?
Well for this piece, Frank Gehry. I was looking at his cardboard chairs – especially his wiggle chair.
CW: And what are your aspirations for after graduation?
CF: Definitely a job (laughs). I mostly studied product design, but I’m leaning towards furniture now after the table. I am just so excited to be here and see everyone else’s work and hopefully I’ll be here in a different booth next year.
Daniel Moyer of Daniel Moyer Design and Fabrication is a master woodworker, working mostly in that medium to create his eco-friendly and sustainable (not to mention beautiful) pieces. Never one to waste, he puts the scrap wood to work making his line of skateboards, FunkinFunction long boards.
Cappi Williamson: So, I have to know – how did the long boards come about?
Daniel Moyer: That’s an old story. Well, let me say that the furniture comes first, but two years ago, I had a pile of scrap board in the corner of my studio and started using it to make long boards. My shop is way up on a hill in Greenpoint and its twenty minutes to the subway and I was long boarding to the subway everyday. I asked Karen if I could throw a couple long boards in the corner and she said “Oh yes, by all means.” And then Brooklyn Paper did an article on it and Habitat picked it up on that site and it was just insane.
CW: And then people wanted them?
DM: Well no, not really. I only make about a dozen a year. It’s a palate cleanser. I use up the scrap board and I give away more than I sell.
CW: So, how long have you been making furniture then?
All my life.
CW: Tell me about this new piece.
DM: It’s called Go-Cart Lounge Chair. It’s an evolution of a chair I’ve been working on for a few years. Last year, I did a sectional – it was a big, ten-piece gigantic indoor / outdoor thing. This is a much more streamlined, sophisticated base. It’s very simple; three sections, a lower section, with a curved section. The cushions are in damask and taffeta. It’s got a lot of geometry going on.
UM – Colgate Searle
French-born designer François Chambard founded UM in 2004 as a start-up that would be “an hybrid company crossing over artisanship and consultancy — in other words developing strong creative concepts and getting his hands dirty.” UM is a full service shop, taking on everything from full-scale projects to the most minute details on a piece of jewelry – not to mention the furniture. Here, we chat with his colleague Colgate Searle.
Cappi Williamson: You do product, projects – it seems you do it all. Can you tell me about the company?
Colgate Searle: We do everything from environments, such as restaurants and recording studios to product like furniture down to jewelry and even concepts and identities with branding. We consult, design, build, everything…
CW: So what inspired you to make jewelry?
CS: I know how to solder and weld and I’ve always dabbled in silver jewelry. When we’re doing a larger project, we’ll see something that lends itself well to a smaller scale. Like, we made a table that has an aluminum perf through the top and I saw the opportunity to scale that down, so I made a necklace as a takedown of that. It’s kinetic and it’s just three materials. The string and gravity make it work.
CW: Tell me about the chandelier hanging above.
CS: We just opened a restaurant on Fifth Ave. – Bar Breton. The chandeliers we have up here were a big part of that. The owner said he wanted a chandelier with wine glasses and then it was up to us to make that happen. We wanted to find a way to show the glasses and not jeopardize them because they’re vintage and each one is unique and has a story – you don’t want to just glue them to something.
We had to rack our brains to find a cost effective way to hang them that was also aesthetically pleasing. Here, each glass comes in and out. The swirl goes from a negative shape and morphs into the positive. Loading the glasses takes the longest – there are 250. We’ll be the last people out of here on Sunday.