Friday, June 29, 2012


To qualify for a 250k grant, our friends at MATTERMADE need 250 votes. Vote here via Facebook! 
Matter is an important player in the US design world. They rep some prestigious European brands and are a great NYC retailer. However, we love them best for MATTERMADE, their beautifully-curated collection that is designed by Americans and produced locally. Our Shed Storage unit, for example, was made right out in Brooklyn.

Many of my friends have heard my rant about local production, but here it is again. 

I was in China twice this winter working on new products and that will probably not change any time soon. It makes me sad, as a designer, that I must travel 16 hours to get to a factory. The factory, after all, is the playground of the designer. It is a shame that we have allowed manufacturing to die in the country. Jobs are lost, but society also loses connection to the basic human activity of fabrication. 

The consumer now expects everything to be dirt cheap. They fill up their baskets at the big box stores with poorly-designed, poorly-made crap that will most likely end up in a landfill. It is a vicious cycle. Cheap goods just drop into our lives from China, so no one even thinks about how they are made. I am certainly guilty too - I like my disposable glassware from CB2. No one thinks about the fact that the factory workers do not have health insurance or that the factory waste is simply dumped in the local river. It all takes place out of sight and out of mind. We have exported all of the problems related to manufacturing. 

Few today remember the pride of consuming goods that are made by your neighbors. Few know anyone who makes anything for a living. So in turn, no one wants to pay a fair price for anything, no one understands what makes a piece of furniture great, or mediocre. I'd like to see people consume fewer, better things. I'd like to see consumers learning about design and manufacturing and thus demanding better goods in their lives. This is impossible if production is in China or India. 

Call me selfish, I don't relish getting on the plane for another 16 hour flight, but I have also seen great design made here. MATTERMADE, for instance! Please vote for them. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Under the sea, on 13th Street. 

The drip tentacles are genius.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Glasslab is the traveling glassblowing event produced by The Corning Museum of Glass. They pair designers with glassblowers in an effort to expose the designers to the glassblowing tradition, and the audiences to the beauty of the designer/maker collaboration. 

The session in Toledo was mounted as part of the Glass Art Society (GAS) Conference. It took place on June 15th from 6:30-10:30 pm as part of the Friday night Gallery Hop. 

I was asked to come armed with some ideas. I brought about 10 and we selected 7 for development. It is fun to see which ideas the glassblowers are drawn to and to learn about the technical issues. Glasslab is a very informal setting and they do not always have all of the equipment, but they can pretty much make anything by hand and it is a great opportunity to sketch out ideas.

We first explored my ideas for a set of Rocket Ship containers. Here is my sketch. The rockets would actually be a series of stacking cylinders that could hold things in the payload areas.

Here Eric Meek puts the cooling fins on the second section of the tall black rocket while Annette Sheppard watches on.

The second team, George Kennard and Dane Jack, tried one of my geometric intersections. A vase made of two cones and a cylinder. This one was a technical challenge. I do my sketching in a vacuum. Sometimes I can recall how the glassblowers will approach a project, but very often I am wrong. What I think will be easy is hard, and vice versa.

Here is an image from the making of it. It is three separate piece that are joined while on the end of the long blow pipes. It is incredible to watch them work. In the end, the rounded end on the left, lighter colored cone will get cut off and it will stand on that foot.

The third project we attempted is a Hand Bowl that we developed in Miami a couple of years ago. The first one broke while being finished, so we wanted to give it another shot. I made the mold in advance by pouring plaster into my cupped hands. Below is a picture of the mold - oddly, when photographed the mold looks positive, but it is actually a negative impression of my hands. It is coated with graphite to protect the plaster and prevent sticking. For production one would create a metal mold but for testing out and idea, plaster works very well.

Eric created a very hot, thick bubble of glass that was pressed over the mold.

It will be a double walled vessel with the impression of the hands on the top. Here is a shot of the hands after it came off the mold and before it went into the annealer for cooling.

There are a few other projects that I did not get shots of, but this last set of vases were a fun evolution. I envisioned a series of eggs that were opened into vases by snipping the hole with a pair of shears. I wanted the vessels sort of wonky and the idea was to snip the opening and pull back the flaps. Here are my sketches.

I think this was a favorite of the glassblowers. They could probably see the potential for movement. I was surprised by the results. I forgot the the glass would need to be re-heated as the blower worked it, which softened the flaps a bit and what I thought would be very geometric and graphic got softer. But I loved the results - they looked like they exploded! Here Helen Tegeler puts the final touches on one of them.

I had to leave the next morning early, so I do not have any pictures of the final goods. I will see them in August when I go up to the Museum for another session with Glasslab.

The team at Glasslab is incredibly talented. I love them for nurturing the designer/maker relationship. It is a learning experience for all. Thanks to Steve Gibbs and Rob Cassetti for inviting me, Karol Wright, the Executive Director of the Museum who stayed for the whole event, Don Pierce for driving me around, and the very talented team of glassblowers that brought my ideas to life.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I was in Toledo on June 15th for the GAS (Glass Art Society) conference. 

They don't call it the rust belt for nothing.

In the evening I was scheduled to work with Glasslab, but during the day I was free to roam around. As part of the GAS Conference, Beryl Vallien was doing a demonstration. It was the hot ticket of the morning. It was cool to watch him cast one of his ship sculptures, even if I don't like the work too much.

The demonstration was in the stunning Glass Pavillion, designed by SAANA, after I toured the glass galleries.

The bench in the galleries was a masterpiece of cast glass.

The collection is great. These early american molded pieces caught my eye.

The museum is a gem. They have a small but comprehensive collection. I loved this Mark di Suvero and Gehry pairing - two creatives who explore the irrational world. I don't like their work on its own, but together they had a great dialogue going. Context is everything in art and design.

Stay posted for some pics of the Glasslab event that took place in the evening.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Natural Warmth

Paperwork featured in Inside Out, an Australian based home life magazine.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


My friend, Tim Convery's rope tattoos were my original inspiration.

Tim has been at it for years, adding knots and flourishes. He is a graphic genius and just started an amazing venture in Provincetown called Tim-Scapes. Check out his website and Facebook page.

Lindsey Adelman's Knotty Bubbles chandelier also caught my attention early on, but I was midway through my rope project when I realized the larger zeitgeist. Art Basel Miami was brimming with rope. Stephen Burks showed his rope stools and around the fair it showed up in various forms. Everyone I mentioned 'rope' to, suggested I read an article in the NYTimes about an artist who only works with rope. I have yet to dig it up and read it, but I will.

Honestly, the prevalence almost made me want to abandoned the project, but I can certainly stake my claim on rope. My love affair started as a child, sailing on the NJ shore, making Turks Head bracelets, and tying bowline knots - "up the hole, around the tree, and back down the hole again." When I discovered Ashley's Book of Knots last year it stoked the fire.

Rope is the perfect utilitarian symbol, beautiful in its spiral structure and endless associations. It's a reminder of simpler times, and our REALITY take on the subject, Coil Rope Vase and Coil Rope Bowl, for Areaware launched at the ICFF in May.

And there is more coming at the NYIGF in August ...

Monday, June 11, 2012


I arrived in Chicago yesterday to attend Neocon.
Neocon is the contract furnishing market that takes place in Chicago. I come every few years to see what's going on. The ICFF is all about press and schmoozing, but Neocon is serious business.

My flight in was uneventful. I woke up to this spectacular view just before landing:

It reminded me of my favorite Georgia O'Keeffe painting, Sky Above Clouds:

My first stop was the Interior Design Giants party. Chicago totally delivers on modernism, but the law office of Baker & McKenzie, designed by Goettsch Partners, where the party was held, is "modern on steroids." Check out the lit beams, and the pool of water.

The building gave me vertigo.

The view of Millennium Park was spectacular.

I then attended the IIDA Cool Ball, a fundraiser for the IIDA (International Interior Design Association). They also announce the winners from the competitions I judged for them back in February. I sat with Cindy Allen at the Interior Design table, and I should have taken more pics. I didn't think of it until the dancing began. This pic sort of looks like a shot from Soul Train, but the party was very chic - black tie, in fact, in a ballroom at the Ritz Carlton - and the competition results were very well received.

I'll go to the fair today, and see what I can see.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Color Report: Hot

If color trend is any indication we are in for a hot summer.
It all started in Milano in April, on Via St. Andrea where they were selling these patent leather goodies...

... and then I started spotting bright colors all over town ...

... and it seemed to follow me home ...

So here it comes. The summer hots, to love all year round. There are so many incredible colors to invite into your life.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Day in China

Design Milk asked Harry to document "a day in the life" as a designer for their Designer Dailies column. They had asked for an average day of a working designer, but Harry had an interesting trip to China, which he thought would be interesting to share with readers. Read the full article here.