Labor Day has always signaled the official end to summer in the US (though tell that to those of us in the deep south who are still experiencing above-ninety-degree days!). You can actually feel the energy shift when the calendar pops over to the first Tuesday in September: the frenetic back-to-work attitude that consumes us will take us all the way through the Holiday break. When we labor, of course, we’re sweating it out over outstanding design!
Outstanding Design Comes to Life
I decided to ask the team about their favorite product design to date and from whence their inspiration sprung, their responses I present here with visuals that illustrate their picks, except for one sneak-peek at the idea behind a product that won’t be unveiled until next year. Drumroll, please!
Tom Caldwell – VP of Design and Development
“For me, it’s all about what’s new,” remarks Tom Caldwell, the vice president of design and development. “New designs are only exciting for me for a very short time and then it’s on to something else. I think my favorite design right now is the Fen chandelier. It started as a simple ‘doodle’ (as many of my things do), and I just worked on it until it became an actual ‘something.’”
“Having been in the lighting business since I was a teenager, there’s a lot of memories about things I’ve seen and experienced,” he adds. “I think this is my biggest source of inspiration. I attempt to identify needs in our product offering and fill the gaps with new product ideas which will be innovative and exciting to our customers. I like to find new ways of using different materials and new ‘tricks’ that we haven’t used before.”
About his collaborations with the rest of the team, he says, “I am thrilled to be working with such a talented group of young designers who are dedicated, smart, and have many things to offer Currey & Company. They have certainly taught me much about the new technologies, as well as their fresh outlook on product design. They have ‘taught an old dog some new tricks’!”
Aimee Kurzner – Senior Designer
For Aimee Kurzner, a senior designer at Currey & Company who certainly understands outstanding design, her favorite is the Briallen Demi-lune. “My original concept was to design a simple and elegant cabinet with the focus on the hardware to make a statement,” she tells me. I was looking through magazines and saw a pair of stylized Camelia earrings. I drew inspiration from the flower concept and created a new sketch of a blossom to be created into a large piece of hardware.”
“We have a unique resource of a freelance sculptor here at Currey & Company, and I knew he could help bring my vision to reality,” she continues. “We worked together on fine tuning the textures and then sent it off to be cast in brass with an antique finish. Knowing the hardware would be around 8” in diameter, I wanted the cabinet to be sleek while commanding enough to set the mood and be a strong enough backdrop for the hardware.”
“I love using oak for its open grain and visual value, and I am a firm believer in Pantone Caviar Black as the perfect shade of black,” she adds. “The cabinet features ample storage behind the main center doors and also behind the right and left curved doors. It is also fitted with soft-close hardware that makes the function of the doors effortless. This ties back to the elegance and simplicity of the piece.”
About her creative process, Aimee says, “My creativity comes in sparks. It’s either something that just appears to me or the inspiration springs from my travels, nature, old books, fashion, jewelry and magazines. Having a team of designers to bounce ideas off of is great. I would always say two heads are better than one. I’m keen on the opportunity to share concepts and draw inspiration from each other’s ideas, which can help in creating coordinating items between furniture and lighting.”
Christina Pomroy – Designer
About her Grand Lotus family of light fixtures, Currey & Company designer Christina Pomroy says, “This design is not actually based on a flower, but the name was too beautiful to pass up! I was browsing through a book about Islamic architecture and I found an element called a ‘pendentive.’ It’s basically a triangular section of support that is used to connect a square room to a circular dome. These architectural elements can get very elaborate and were quite popular during the Byzantine era. I can’t recall the actual book title it was in but the pendentive looked very similar to one ‘petal’ of the lotus, almost like a decorative archway.”
“I loved the concept and played around with repeating the pattern to come up with the central form of six repeated elements,” she continues. “I added a layer above and below the central portion, which increased the strength of the frame, as well as brought visual depth to the fixture. For this piece I actually mocked it up quarter scale with folded paper to see how the form played in 3D. Computer modeling programs are very powerful and a wonderful tool that I use daily, but having a small model in my hands that I could turn 360 degrees and view from all sides helped me to get the form just right. Gold leafing the metal gave the frame a wonderful warm glow, and helps to reflect the light and produce an interesting shadow on the ceiling.”
About her creative process, Christina says, “As with most designers, I’m a very visual person. I am often inspired by jewelry, fashion, architecture, trade publications, design books, magazines, nature, and just everyday life around me. Recently, I was driving home and saw an interesting form on a billboard ad that I thought would make a great flush mount. The best part is I never know what I’m going to see that will spark an idea, but it’s always a wonderful feeling when a good one hits.”
“As with any job involving a team, there are moments of strong collaboration, and there are times when I am focused on individual work,” she explains about her exposure to the rest of the Currey & Company designers. “It’s a great balance for me because I really enjoy working with our design team and bouncing ideas off one another. When I’m not busy travelling overseas working on new product, I also like taking a quiet moment to get a concept fleshed out.”
“Working at Currey &Company has afforded me the amazing opportunity to collaborate with folks who have been in the industry longer than I have been on the planet!” she remarks. “Tom Caldwell, our VP of product development, for instance, has over 40 years of lighting experience, and I have had the good fortune to work alongside him and benefit from his extensive knowledge. Cecil Adams, our creative director, also works with our team to fill us in on any upcoming trends or color stories we should keep on our radar. Being a lighting designer with Currey & Company is incredibly rewarding because I love coming up with new and beautiful products which I truly hope our customers enjoy in their homes for years to come.”
Clarence Mallari – Senior Designer
“The style is traditional with some traditional characteristics,” says Clarence Mallari, also a senior designer, of a brand new pendant he is working on that will be introduced in 2017. “With simple lines and openness it lightens the look and yet keeps the traditional style. It all started when my wife and I went on a Mediterranean cruise and came across a beautiful old church in Florence, Italy. We saw this large wood chandelier with crystals all around it, and I thought it would be impossible to replicate the intricate wood carvings so I decided to do more drastic approach to keep the form and shape.”
“I started removing the crystals first and lightening the wood carving to a simple flat bar,” he continues. “Then I reduced the number of lights from 12 to four, as well as completely eliminating the all florals inside and out. It totally changed the look but in a way that I thought made it more appealing.” About his creative process, the designer behind the stunning Havana Grande chandelier says, “This notion of creative process tends to be on a case-by-case basis for me: there are times when your creativeness is so sharp you can virtually design anything from nothing; and then there are times no matter how hard you try, nothing is coming out!”
“This process is something everybody has,” he adds, “but it just so happens some are more creative than others. And it comes naturally, as if nature has its own style and dimensions. Working with experienced designers helps me due to the fact that I not only get to share know-how but I also gain personal development and self-confidence through the respect I’m shown by other designers. Being recognized for my contributions is also wonderful.”
As we move through the last official week of summer, I’d like to salute these talented designers and say how much I enjoy seeing the outstanding design they create come to life. As the philosopher Gaston Bachelard writes in his book The Poetics of Space, “the poetry of houses could be studied from the single angle of the lamp that glows in the window.” These astute artists featured here today are the ones that create these lit examples of the poetic—without them, those angles wouldn’t be nearly as lovely as they are!
Saxon Henry also blogs as The Modern Salonnière.