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meet gere kavanaugh

photo by: Laure Joliet What: Afternoon Tea with Gere Kavanaugh
When: Saturday, February 21, 2-4:00 pm
Where: CB2 Santa Monica

Now more modern than ever at age 85, Gere Kavanaugh was one of the trailblazing female designers of her time as the third woman to receive an MFA degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Still prolific today, her work celebrates her passion for creating ingenious design from the simplest of materials—including our exclusive mood dinnerware, inspired by Kavanaugh’s archival designs dating back 30 years.

We look forward to sharing her other passions —tea and conversation—this Saturday.


design collab no.1: the backstory

It was April in 2012, at the Milan Salone, when CB2 was captivated by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Whatnot exhibit. That collection showcased the talented team of professors and students at SAIC—about a 10-minute L train ride from CB2’s merchandising office.

After months of discussions, a 2-semester course for 12 students was envisioned with the end-goal of one product per student creating a collection that would be produced exclusively for CB2. In order to get it on the School’s calendar for students to opt into, the first class started over a year later in the Fall 2013 semester.

The course required two experienced professors—Jim TerMeer and Tim Parsons
a teaching assistant, Carlos Ortega, supplies to realize and prototype concepts, and a lecture series created specifically for the students and presented by CB2’s diverse staff.

The class assignment came from the CB2 Merchandising team, who collaborated with the students and professors just as they do with established designers.

Ryan Turf, Managing Director, and Ali Williams, Senior Director of Business Operations and Strategy, kicked off day 1 talking about what it takes to run a home furnishings brand.

The professors knew time would be tight, so they had assigned homework 3-4 weeks in advance of the first class—students researched statistics and urban migration trends to create a presentation as a way to share fun facts as well as their views on the subject.

Armed with a solid and practical understanding of small space living, they moved to the conceptual side a few weeks later. So as they explored what a snail could teach them about nesting tables and hoarding squirrels inspired expandable storage containers, a true to scale 250sf apartment was created in the classroom from cardboard and sheet foam—complete with a kitchen and bathroom.

Many concepts were sketched and ideas floated, debated, enhanced, critiqued—all were voted on and the best ones moved into the protoyping stage.

Students learned presentation skills each time they met with CB2—from introducing initial concepts to demonstrating how hand-made full-size prototypes could actually work.

Some weeks the CB2 team would visit the school to see how concepts were progressing—other times, the class would meet at the CB2 offices.

Final drawings were delivered at the end of the semester in early December 2013, and they were immediately sent off for sampling with high hopes they would be selected for this Spring 2015 assortment.

While the students enjoyed winter break, factory-made prototypes were being created and a second round was shipped to Chicago—incorporating feedback from CB2’s buyers after their initial review.

Classes resumed at the end of January and the lecture series continued, including conversations on marketing, visual merchandising, catalogs and eCommerce. As soon as the samples arrived, everyone worked fast, furiously and collaboratively to confirm final details so production could get started to meet delivery deadlines.

In the end, each student submitted a concept that became a reality for the Design Collab No.1—space saving furniture and accessories. Textiles which reference the square footage of floor plans, an ultra-thin energy-efficient LED pendant, a room divider with over 200 hooks to store or display, and a jewelry cabinet hidden behind a wall mirror are just a few products from the collection.


designer profile: gere kavanaugh

photo courtesy of: Nancy Louise Jones Where was your favorite place to live?
Oh I think everyplace I’ve live in I’ve loved—but
I like Los Angeles right now the best.

What’s your favorite room in your home?
That’s an easy question—it’s the whole house because I’ve worked hard on it and I’m still picking it up, always moving things things around. You have another idea or something looks different when it’s next to a different object or color or texture—so I’m always making what
I call still-lifes around the house.

What is your personal decorating style?
I don’t decorate. It’s a very simple but very direct and very colorful style.

Do you have one low budget decorating tip?

What’s your favorite possession?
My tea cups—about half of the collection are glazed in colors or painted and the other half are all white. When you’re drinking tea, tea has many different colors—and even in the green and black varieties—I like being able to see all those colors and the only way is to drink it in a white cup.

What was/is your biggest indulgence?
Sweaters and yarns—I love texture so often I’ll buy skeins of yarns just because I’m attracted to them.

What one item do you wish you owned?
I’d love to own a watermelon tourmaline—if you get one of the oblong crystal shapes, it goes from a reddish watermelon color to green. I saw one once in Central America and never since.

What are your interests outside of design?
I have so many! Cooking, reading, traveling, visiting museums—just living—listening to intelligent people give lectures but it all feeds back into my design living.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Getting up in the morning and walking out into the world. I believe a designer’s job is to look— so I’m always looking because you never know what will strike you as inspiration or what you can file away to reference or build upon later.

Form vs. function?
That’s a funny one—I also collect industrial things like funnels, graters… their function is so simple and the designs are no nonsense, honest. I think they go hand in hand because they’re so honest.

In your opinion, what is the best designed item of all time?
There are so many things—mainly it’s the basics like the needle, the pencil, paper clips, Ziploc® Bags.

What’s the best career advice you ever received? Ever gave?
Again, it’s very simple—I had a teacher who once said the most important thing you could have was curiosity. It makes you dig and think—whether you’re an artist, a musician or a scientist—it’s how I live every day.

To see all of Gere’s current works for CB2, go here.


designer profile: zak rose

Where was your favorite place to live?
A tie between SF and Chicago.

What’s your favorite room in your home?
Our bedroom is all white and wood, with a few pops of color. Being able to relax in an environment where you have no design compromises is very relaxing.

In your opinion, what is the best designed item of all time?
Left handed scissors.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Vintage furniture, rough framing, public works and infrastructure like railroad trestles, art, nature, beautiful food.

What do you drive?
Subaru station wagon.

What one item do you wish you owned?
A house near the water.

What are your interests outside of design?
Bicycle riding and cooking.

Who are you design icons?
Marcel Breuer, Alexander Calder, Andy Goldsworthy, Finn Juhl, Daniel Burnham.

Form vs. function?
Both, together forever and ever.

What’s your favorite possession?
My bicycle.

What is your personal decorating style?
Clean and modern with natural accents and lots of colorful art.  

What was/is your biggest indulgence?
Summer trips to Maine.

Do you have one low budget decorating tip?
Sub floors make great floors!

What’s the best career advice you ever received? Ever gave?
Always innovate… No asky, no getty.

To see all of Zak’s current works for CB2, go here.


designer profile: philip sachs

photo by: Bob Wolfe Where was your favorite place to live?
I am a New Yorker, born and raised. There’s no place like home. I’ve been living in Park Slope, Brooklyn for 8 years and I love it. However, there will always be a special place in my heart for New Orleans and the time I spent living there.

What’s your favorite room in your home?
If my garden counts as a room, then I choose that! It’s great living in New York City, but giving up a lot of nature to do so is a big trade off. I appreciate having a place of my own to relax and enjoy being outdoors. A lot of my artistic inspiration is created in those peaceful moments.

In your opinion, what is the best designed item of all time?
I’d have to say the bicycle. It truly is perfect — design, function, and utility all in one package. It’s completely sustainable, customizable and fun too.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Natural history museums are great. I think that ancient civilizations really understood and appreciated the importance of art and design in conjunction with function. In the past 100 years or so, a lot of design has been sacrificed for cost and utility.

What do you drive?
In New York, you have to have options for getting around. I drive a 2002 Subaru Forester, but I also ride a Trek 21 speed bicycle and a 1971 Honda CB175 motorcycle when I don’t want to worry about parking.

What one item do you wish you owned?
A private jet for traveling the world on a moment’s notice.

What are your interests outside of design?
Cooking dinner, wandering Prospect Park with my dog, exploring the city with my wife, international travel.

What is your personal decorating style?
I tend to adopt the less is more approach without being overly minimalistic. To me it’s all about arrangement of shape and color.

What’s your favorite possession?
My 13 year old Pit Bull / German Shepherd Cassie. She’s the best! I also have a 1976 Fender Rhodes electric piano I’m quite fond of.

What was/is your biggest indulgence?
Chocolate and coffee. Together or separate.

What’s the best career advice you ever received? Ever gave?
Figure out what you love doing. Then, go do it.

To see all of Philip’s current works for CB2, go here.