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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 It’s a newer version of the classic VW camper van.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.


artist profile: mary belknap

In partnership with San Francisco’s Creativity Explored, a nonprofit visual arts center where artists with develop­mental disabilities create, exhibit and sell art, artist Mary Belknap’s creation—originally an oil pastel with bold strokes of color—is reinterpreted as a hand-tufted wool rug.

Mary Belknap was born in 1944 and has been a studio artist at Creativity Explored since 1995. She’s adept with many mediums—including fabric creating lively works incorporating embroidery and soft sculpture—but works mostly with oil pastels and pencils.

Mary makes intricate compositions and deftly integrates small geometric color planes to create two-dimensional works that resemble textile art. Trees and other organic forms are often found in her mostly non-representational paintings and drawings.

With an incredible eye for color, the warm tonals of red/orange radiate toward a cool blue/green center while brite white geometry focuses the eye making the artist’s signature woven into a corner an intergral aspect of the composition.

To spend one minute with Mary Belknap in the Creativity Explored studio, go here.


artist profile: valerie long

As one of CB2’s collaborative projects with Creativity Explored—a nonprofit visual arts center where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit and sell art—an ink and marker print by artist Valerie Long frees an abstract indigo butterfly into an electric yellow sky with bright pink bloom.

Valerie Long was born in 1955 and has been working at Creativity Explored since 2005. Graphite, ink, markers and paper are her preferred media—she uses fabric for its two-dimensional quality as well.

Long works mostly in black and white but is not averse to using color. Her work appears abstract but is often based on the structure of everyday objects. Long’s matter-of-fact, relaxed personality communicates its opposite reflection in her work, where a visual curiosity and intriguing grasp of pattern are filtered through her investigations into the act of seeing.

Tireless hatching and pointillist gestures are definitive aspects of Valerie’s engagement with drawing. She’s made beautiful translations of crystals into stippled, slanting boxes which, through painstaking and delicate repetition, are extracted from the mineral world and placed in ours of motion and light.

To spend one minute with Valerie Long in the Creativity Explored studio, go here.


artist profile: ben holiday

Where was your favorite place to live?
My favorite places to live is Chicago’s Uptown – the neighborhood is fantastically diverse and has jazz age venues (the Riviera, Green Mill and Aragon ballroom) that are an outstanding collection of performance spaces; Although, I look forward to my planned retirement in the Netherlands – the region has a defining aesthetic and an aura of open mindedness that is so refreshing!

What are your sources of inspiration?
The line is probably my true inspiration—understanding the line and how it can be constructed, arranged and represented to illustrate a perspective is uniquely powerful; 1920’s terra cotta architecture; shadows and their strong, yet ethereal presence; 1960’s jet era modern textiles and interior design, raw 80’s NYC transit graffiti; and the evolution of urban life.

What do you drive?
A mint colored scooter than I assembled because when I purchased it, the note “assembly required” wasn’t included!

What are your interests outside of design?
I love to travel and go to concerts. I coincidentally caught Gomez live in Amsterdam at Milkweg—it was the ultimate performance experience. Beyond that, I just enjoy searching for delight in the unexpected.

Who are your design icons?
Mies van der Rohe’s clean lines and pioneering minimalism, Tom Ford’s eye for mixing, texturing and layering, Brancusi’s ultra stylized style, Andy Warhol’s change is how we view our daily lives and the items we are surrounded by… and who ever invented the “easy open” Oreo packaging, it’s honestly the best design innovation since sliced bread.

What is your signature?
My mantra is expressing more with very little, finding ways to layer and intrigue with less. I always strive to arrange visual components so that they complement and harmonize with their context in design, art, photography, and/or architecture.

What’s your favorite element/possession?
A rug I designed for a not-for-profit organization—Arzu. They provide hope through design to women in Afghanistan by selling their hand- woven carpets and returning the profits.

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


artist profile: maria berrios

Created in partnership with San Francisco’s Creativity Explored, a nonprofit visual arts center where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit and sell art—animated birds, critters, bugs and fireflies buzz whimsically within the warp and weft of the entre flores y pajaros rug.

Born in El Salvador in 1959, artist Maria Berrios has been gracing Creativity Explored with her dynamic artwork and jovial nature since 1999.

Berrios works in a variety of drawing media and also enjoys printmaking. From family groupings, flora, and fauna, her favorite color—red—is well represented with all of her typical subjects. Berrios’ art making process is very slow and meticulous. After sketching a composition, she often places her subjects around the picture plane so that the piece may be viewed from any direction.

Her fantastical, naïve vision, which translates to “among flowers and birds”, is hand-tufted in great detail—using no less than in 28 colors of wool yarns—with her signature woven in each.

To spend one minute with Maria Berrios in the Creativity Explored studio, go here.