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milan 2011: designers and artists

Just when we think it’s presidents and economists who shape our world, we return to Milan for the Salone and remember it’s really the designers and artists.

Designers who solve problems through ingenious design and artists who add beauty—who provoke thought through compelling imagery, music, prose—while making our world more awesome.

We’re constantly thrilled and amazed by their ability to imagine a lamp that’s not just a casing for electric light, a bookcase that not just shelves— but one that’s breathtaking, sexy.

And while we’re extremely grateful to be working with creative and talented designers and artists, we remember the engineers who make their ideas a reality and just how equally important it is to laugh… to take fifteen minutes and four euros to enjoy a toy a designer created for us to play with.

We can choose to think of a swing as rope and a piece of wood or an old tire… or our castle fortress as a simple cardboard box… it’s all in allowing ourselves to imagine possibilities, and to enjoy them.


designer profile: michael solheim

In your opinion, what is the best designed item of all time?
It depends on your definition of design. Modern Formula 1 cars are the best designed item from an engineering perspective, and maybe some of the Apple or OXO products from a usability perspective. But for pure aesthetic sensibility I like Jasper Morrison’s Low Pad chair for Cappellinni, the 1961 Ferrari 250 Berlinetta, and Naoto Fukawasa’s humidifier for +/- 0.

Form vs. function?
Both, but function comes first.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Music, movies, traveling, art, and culture. Often I try to think about products I’d like to own myself. I recently saw an exhibit in Tokyo called Memories of Cartier, which was very inspiring.

What one item do you wish you owned?
A vintage wooden bar.  It would be fun to play bartender and mix a few drinks for friends.

Where was your favorite place to live?
Rome is hard to beat for all of its history, art, design, and food. I spent a summer there learning Italian, traveling to see art, drinking espresso, and making friends.

What’s your favorite room in your home?
The kitchen. I love food and drinks.

What’s your favorite possession?
My espresso machine.  Morning with a good cup of coffee is my favorite time of the day.

What was/is your biggest indulgence?
Travel.  I indulge in going places rather than buying things.  My recent travel indulgence was subletting an apartment in Tokyo for a month.

What is your signature?
Lacoste.  I have a baby picture where I’m wearing a green Lacoste polo, and I’ve loved the brand ever since.  Happy to wear the clothes whether they’re in or out of style at the current time.

What’s the best career advice you ever received?
My Dad always told me “work hard, be smart, have fun”.  It’s also important to dream big.  You will have setbacks, but never give up.


the making of: dangerous liasons

Designed by Legendre+Rutter to pay homage to the 2009 theatre poster for the Canberra Repertory Society production of the 18th-century tale, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”; Chicago designer Lance Rutter’s original illustration and lettering achieved its rich coloration and detail with a unique process that included rendering every line with a brush pen and printing directly on bright red paper.

Hand-tufted—in reverse, then backed—using Indian and New Zealand wools, each dangerous liaisons rug takes approximately two days to produce. Execution of the design is a tribute to the talent of the craftsmen who interpret the original illustration into a tapestry using just six yarn colors.

To fully appreciate the drama of the design, contact your local hardware store for hardware to hang one on a wall as artwork.


name games: halina pillow

Kala…Zooey…Halina!Amy wrote: Hi Stephen. We’ve chosen your design for a pillow for spring 2011. Please let me know what you title it. I have dubbed it “bauble” in the meantime. Thanks, much! Amy

From Stephen: Amy…. This is such great news. I can’t believe it!!!! Thank you so much! As far as naming it. Your suggestion sounds great to me. I named it Kala. So it’s totally up to you.

Amy wrote: Does Kala have any meaning?

From Stephen: Well… I name all of my work after women. So Kala is the name of a girl that I had an ongoing 3 month coffee date with. Same day every week and then after three months I never saw her again. She stopped meeting and we never exchanged numbers. So anyway…. There it is.

Amy wrote: Absolutely love it. It’s slightly “before sunrise/before sunset”….have you seen those films? We will name it Kala.

From Stephen: Yes I have seen them and I love them! I have a huge crush on Julie Delpy… Please don’t tell anyone. If you haven’t already… watch “2 Days in Paris”.

Amy wrote: I still haven’t seen “2 days in paris” but I will. This note is just to say that we just realized that in the past, we had named a pillow Kala and it is still in our system and we don’t want to confuse matters. Do you mind the name “bauble”?  Or do you have another name you would like to use? What was Julie Delpy’s name in before sunrise? Was it Celine?  Maybe that’s too pretty since the design is whimsical…let’s put on our thinking caps; The design is so artful; Any other pretty girl names that you like? What about Zooey or something? Help. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

From Stephen: Hmmmm….Ok we can do this. Here are a few: Beata, Kasia, Tekla, Halina, Jagoda…

Amy wrote: We like Halina! Is she another love/crush?

From Stephen: I love it!!! That was actually the name of my experimental painting professor!

Thanks to designer stephen crowhurst and amy, former product manager assistant, for their permission to reprint their communications.


designer profile: verity freebern

Where was your favorite place to live?
Denver, where I live now. I’ve lived in some interesting places, but Denver has the best mix of climate, culture, progressive politics and great neighborhoods.

What’s your favorite room in your home?
We live in a 1950s mid-century modern house, and the living room is my favorite room. It has floor to ceiling windows which face west, so we get great afternoon sun puddles. There is always a cat or two basking. We can see the mountains in the winter, too, and snow storms seem magical.

What are your sources of inspiration?
I’m constantly inspired by serendipitous combinations of patterns, shapes and colors that I see in nature and the built environment. My kids’ Lego creations and art; the cat; the tile pattern on the floor of an old theater — I’ve based patterns or palettes on all those things. One recent piece for CB2 was inspired by the shape of the plastic water squirter thing in the bottom of our dishwasher. If I get stuck for an idea, I will usually turn to one of my books of 40s or 50s design, or take a walk at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

What are your interests outside of design?
I have a collecting problem… metal cabinets, vintage maps, random ephemera from the 50s and 60s. So I love going to estate sales and thrift stores, finding unusual things, and then making them into collages and jewelry. I also have three kids, so I tend to get interested in things they are interested in, or that impact them: animation, music, movies, theater, education.

Your personal decorating style is _____?
50s modern/vintage industrial plus meaningful objects and an unusual color palette. I hate white walls.

Who are your design icons?
Lucienne Day, Ray Eames, Stig Lindberg, Charlie Harper, Dr. Seuss.

What do you drive?
A Volkswagen Eurovan. It’s a newer version of the classic VW camper van. It has a fold-out table and a little refrigerator.

What’s your favorite element/possession?
My iPhone. I know it’s clichéd, but that device has changed my life.

What was/is your biggest indulgence?
It used to be the Sunday New York Times, but now it’s my iPhone.

Do you have one low budget decorating tip?
Think creatively, and don’t be afraid to use things for a different purpose than they were intended.

What’s the best career advice you ever received? Ever gave?
I have a long history of advising people to quit jobs that they hate. There is nothing sadder than a talented person in a soul-crushing job. I’m a firm believer in the “Figure out what you’re good at and what you love, and then figure out a way to make money doing that” line of thinking.

To see all of Verity’s current designs for CB2, go here.

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