Tuesday, May 31, 2011


The Fifi Awards, an annual event sponsored by the Fragrance Foundation, honors the fragrance industry's creative achievements. It is basically the Oscars of the fragrance world. Harry Allen Design is honored that our bottle design for Marc Jacobs BANG won a Fifi for Best Packaging of the Year in the Men's Luxe category!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Organized Foliage

Memorial Day weekend in Bedford has been a nice re-entry from Japan. Honestly, I had a great time in Japan, and I have a feeling everything will work out fine. People are hopeful, life goes on. I'm afraid my posts might have been overly-dramatic. In any event, it is nice to be home.

On Saturday John and Alfredo trimmed our new hedge, behind the pool, for the first time. I'm sorry that I did not take a before shot, but I like this picture because the hedge still has some growing to do, but even so one can see how structural the hedge will be when it fills in.

One of my first rules of design is Order equals Beauty.

It applies to most artistic pursuits. A grade school music teacher once asked my class what music was - we were stumped - the answer was "organized noise." That definition blew my little mind - so accurate and brief, yet so broad in its implications. Under the definition, the new hedge is "organized foliage." Architecture is "organized building materials", industrial design could be organized "form and function." As soon as man gives order to something it becomes more considered, and when that consideration is perceived by others, it is pleasing. Of course there are a billion different ways to organize things, and equally as many interpretations, but that would require more than a blog post to explore.

I've been watching these European Hornbeam saplings grow for two years, and that has been exciting, but the reality of the transformation, from a few disheveled plants to a new architectural element behind the pool, is more beautiful than I could have imagined. Special thanks to the landscape artists, John and Alfredo - for imposing order, for cutting it so level and perfect, for taming nature, and for speaking to me through the new hedge.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Farewell Tokyo

My final day in Tokyo was mostly meetings, in un-airconditioned rooms due to the energy consumption regulations. I spotted this sign on my way to drinks in the evening.

And then yesterday, when I got to the airport lounge I was both awestruck and saddened by this incredible feat of automation:

Awestruck because the Japanese perfected the automatic beer pour - please note that it even has an extra squirt of foam at the end. The foam on the beer is a much appreciated culinary delight in Japan. Saddened because the heated, self cleaning toilets, and automatic faucets that I have marveled at for years, now look so wasteful. The nuclear tragedy to the north, and the ensuing energy crisis made me look at the Japanese love of the new, and subsequent energy thirst, in a whole new light. I would not wish this tragedy upon anyone, but if someone can make good of it, the Japanese can. I cannot think of any society I would rather have exploring clean energy solutions than the Japanese - just look at what they did for beer.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Report from Tokyo


When I checked into the Cerulean Tower Hotel, the guy behind the desk leaned in and asked me how I felt about being in Tokyo. Apparently there aren't many tourists visiting these days. The sunset from the 35th floor executive lounge was beautiful, but thoughts of nuclear meltdown are never far away.


A little earthquake this morning was another reminder that the calm is borrowed, but I am not one to dwell, and I headed out on the town. My first stop was the Kuramata/Sotsass show at 21_21 Design Sight . Always nice to see Kuramatas work, but the show did not really cover any new territory.

My next mission took me to Asakusa, a neighborhood famous for it's historic area. One of the most prominent landmarks, however, is a crazy Philip Stark building (the one with the giant horn-shaped golden potato on top of it).

I was on a quest to buy a traditional Japanese lantern, and thanks to a lead by my friend (and former HAD employee, Aiko Tokunaga) I found what I was looking for at the Onda lantern shop.

I then stopped in to see my friends Iki and Kun (I forgot to take picture) whom I have known since their days at Idée. Despite news and government reassurances to the contrary, Kun is a doom-and-gloomer. He related stories from surfer friends of bodies washing ashore so radioactive that they cannot be touched. He warned of eating vegetables, fish, and milk and hanging out in the park (as the grass absorbs alot of radioactive fallout). Honestly, he really freaked me out. He has very little faith in the powers that be. I hope he is wrong, but with that on my mind, I picked up a package of Meiji chocolate covered almonds and took a nap.

This evening I had dinner with my friend Benjamin Budde at a place called Iri, in the Uehara neighborhood. Which, coincidentally was built by Kun and shares a building with Iki's new flower shop, The Little Shop of Flowers.

Iri is a beautiful, totally delightful local food restaurant, and The Little Shop of Flowers is a perfect little flower shop with wooden doors that open onto the street. Even so, I found it hard to shake Kun's words. Where did the fresh peas come from that went into my soup, or the duck that went into the confit? Who is monitoring the safety? I'm sure my woozy, jet-lagged brain is contributing to the paranoia, so off to bed I go.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bananas Marquis

What pop band superstar spotted my Banana Bowl in Brazil?

Del marquis of the Scissor Sisters (aka Derek, back in the day when he was an intern in the studio) has been spending alot of time in Brazil these days, and he sent me this picture from Benedixt a store in Sao Paulo that carries my REALITY products.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ben's Bridge

Back to reality. The ICFF is over and we spent the weekend in Bedford. We recently completed a small design project that has been years in the making. We always had problems with our doggie door. It was great at letting the dog come and go, but it also let cold air and water in. So I devised an air trap of sorts, a double doggie door/covered bridge that will hopefully take care of the problem. We had the roofer give it some shingles while he was re-shingling the house last month, and Ben has figured it all out.


Friday, May 20, 2011

ICFF Roundup

The International Contemporary Furniture Fair was on last week. The design world dismisses the fair as small and uneventful, but I always see beautiful things. I love to cheer on the home team. The design community in New York fights the good fight despite our lack of manufacturing and support from the top. Here are some of the highlights:

My good friends And Kovel and Justin Parker of Esque glass studio made an impressive showing. In addition to being the toughest glassblowers around, I appreciate their craft-meets-art aesthetic. We did a collaborative project a few years ago called Harry Allen Esque. This year they featured lots of leather details.

There blobby glass pendants are on my wish list.

I spotted these little cast paper Trash Me lamps at Ameico. They are not new, designed in 2010, but they are very cool.

Reza Feiz showed these elegant stools. Reza is from LA and I cannot help seeing a hint of Hollywood Regency in his contemporary work.

Theo Richardson and Charles Brill, of Rich Brilliant and Willing showed for the first time, which I thought was way overdue. They are manufacturing their own items now. Their formal language is simple and smart, and very American in their pared-down aesthetic - there is no other way to make things here.

This reclaimed rug from Nomadic Trading Company of North Carolina caught my eye. It is a composite of a few antique rugs from Turkey, sewn together. I love informal haphazard designs like this, and this one has a lightness that I do not associate with Oriental rugs.

This chair was the star of the Wilsonart collaboration with Rochester Institute of Technology students.

My old pals Koury Guzman showed some subtle patterns. The inlaid brass on the table played nicely off their subtly hued and patterned rugs.

Bernhardt Design always shows a special project or two, and this year they showed Tools@Schools a collaboration between Aruliden design studio and the students at The School at Columbia University. The young students learned about design and contributed ideas to the project. Aruliden gave it form. The resulting desk and lockers are much better than anything I had back in the day and it was fun to watch how involved the kids were.

Here a proud student shows off a locker to a booth visitor.

Council showed their amazing new Periodic side tables. These large chunks of silver plated wood are incredible and now available at DWR.

Jason Miller and Patrick Richardson at the Roll & Hill booth. I love Jason's new tubular lighting system, Endless. I'd love to see an installation with my Pipeline seating system for Dune.

All in all I thought the energy was back in the show and it seemed very positive. Yes it is small, but it is all we have, and I would recommend that everyone take a look.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Brazilian Bash

I have lots to report from my ICFF excursions, but I just got these pics from our event on Friday. If you have even glanced at the blog in the last few days you are sure to know that we featured work that I designed for two Brazilian manufacturers, NDT Brazil and Vialight. I also invited a young designer Brunno Jahara to show work he had done for the same two companies.

The installation was looking great before the guests arrived. My new Surrogate lamp, a studio project made from a resin infused Brazil T-shirt, made for a nice introduction to the show. It hung above Brunno Jahara's Batucada Vases and Neorustica table.

Inside my new lamps for Vialight displayed well. We put all of the most colorful lamps together in a very colorful room.

At the back we featured a more neutral palette. My new LOT collection for NDT Brazil is full of curves - unusual for wooden furniture.

The party started at 7. The hoards included Caroline Baumann of the Cooper Hewitt Museum (lower R, smiling)...

Ronnie Sergio (L), owner of Vialight, Ricardo Augusto (M) and Farid Buissa of NDT Brazil...

My partner John, Herman Miller's Ben Watson, myself, journalist Melissa Feldman, and Ben, our Basset Hound...

Design retailer Ana Azevedo (R), who to my surprise is Brazilian!

Josh Owen (M), a talented designer and educator...

Roberto Cocenza (R), who invited me to Brazil last year and introduced me to NDT Brazil and Vialight...

Eric Hoffman (M) and Michael Reynolds (R), good friends and tastemakers. Michael styles and produces stories for Architectural Digest and Wallpaper, among others. Eric is an art director and graphic design consultant with his own firm Hoffman Creative.

and many more. Thanks to all for their support!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Open House Today & Tomorrow, 3-6 PM

Harry Allen Design is open today and tomorrow, 3-6pm! Come see our new lighting and furniture collection for Brazilian manufacturing companies, VIALIGHT and NDT BRAZIL.

For those that can't make it, you can read about our show on Azure and New York Times Style blogs.

207 Avenue A at 13th Street.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Design Week / Day 1

Design week is off and running. Our opening on Friday was fun and we had lots of people stop by yesterday during the open house. Last night I made the rounds with Brunno Jahara, and the amount of great American design on display made me proud.

We started at Foscarini where nothing new was on display, but the installation was massive and made for a great photo.

We then camped out at Matter for a while. The NEW AMERICA show is outstanding. Jamie Gray, the owner seems to be the only person concentrating on American designers and manufacturing, and the collection this year is a must see. Everyone is always asking me what American Design looks like, and here it is! Go see it. It is beautiful, and smart, and practical, and materially sophisticated.

Our Shed is part of the new collection, an aromatic cedar storage closet decorated in quintessentially American Cedar shakes. It is seen here behind Robert Moorhead, of Moorhead & Moorhead architects. I heard a few guests comment on how great the design smelled.

Ron Labaco, curator from the MAD museum was in the house.

We swung by Moroso where this amazing digital wallpaper by Maharam caught my eye.

And Moss, where this sofa called out my name.

We wrapped up the evening at the opening of the Salvor on Forsyth Street. Ross Menuez, the creative force behind the Salvor brand, has created one of the best stores I have ever seen. Really, I was so impressed. It is even more of a personal expression than Moss was back in 1994 - smart and timely and built to reflect the brands aesthetic. And everything, literally everything is made of grey MDF.

The product is amazing too. Make your way down to Forsyth and check it out. Bravo Ross.


The Black River Fever show is up! We have open house hours today through Tuesday, so please come down to the studio, 207 Avenue A at 13th Street, in the East Village, to see the new furniture and lighting. The collection looks amazing.

The project started last year when I was invited to Brazil to speak and I met some interesting manufacturers and designers. Brunno Jahara, a very talented young Brazilian designer and I both did collections for the same two companies, NDT BRAZIL, who manufacture wooden furniture, and VIALIGHT, a lighting company. So I invited them all up for the ICFF.

We worked hard the last days to mount the show, but it all came together, so Brunno, I, and a large group of friends and family, went out for a bowl of noodles at Momofuku before the opening.

In addition to the Brazilian work I showed a new lamp, called Surrogate, made from resin impregnated T-shirts. I made a special one for the Brazilians. And sold it at the party! Under it you can see some of Brunno's signature Batucada vases.

Here is a vignette featuring Brunno's colorful cabinets, and my large four tier Eclipse lighting for VIALIGHT.

And my dining table and chairs, part of the LOT collection for NDT BRAZIL.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Harry Allen Design This Weekend

On Friday May 13th we will be having an event in the studio called Black River Fever. Please join us from 7-11 at 207 Avenue A in New york City to view new work designed by Harry Allen and Brunno Jahara for Brazilian manufacturers NDT Brazil and Vialight.

RSVP at rsvp@harryallendesign.com.

The studio will also be open 3-6pm Saturday 5/14 through Tuesday 5/17.

We also have a new piece launching with Matter, called Shed, opening party on Saturday night.