One of the reasons I began this travel design blog is that I am itching to roam the world searching for inspiring subjects to bring home. During a recent trip to New York, I sat in on a stimulating presentation by the Brizo design team. What I liked the most about the several hours I spent with them was that I felt I’d been taught a culturally rich lesson due to the highly tuned psyches of the professionals who design Brizo’s products. It seems the spirited team has antennae that capture the subtlest of influences, many of which would likely slip past other designers. I asked several members of the team to illustrate how far their radars extend, and their answers as to what it is that has them jazzed are as broad and interesting as I thought they would be.
Judd Lord, Brizo’s director of design, has been instrumental in laying out the groundwork for the Brizo portfolio, personally designing several of the initial marquee product suites in the fashion-forward brand. In 2006, he was made director of industrial design and continues to oversee creative direction for both Brizo and Delta. What’s piquing his interest these days is “Form, Function and Materiality.” “I’m intrigued how common materials are increasingly able to conceal their identities, such as ceramics imitating wood,” he remarks. “You literally have to touch these products to tell the difference.” Lord sites ceramic tile by Mirage, which I was lucky enough to see in person at Cersaie in Bologna, Italy, last October, and agree that the products are deceptively delicious.
Proving my case that no design subject is too obscure for his notice, Lord jumps right into the drink! “Although gin is usually my vice of choice, I love what vodka manufacturers are doing with their bottles and packaging,” he explains. “Their designs are innovative and fresh, and hold great inspiration for forms within our portfolio. These are works of art to be displayed long after the spirit is gone.” Anthony (Tony) Spangler is Brizo’s senior industrial designer. He has worked at the Delta Faucet Company for over 30 years in capacities ranging from drafting to graphics and artwork preparation to industrial design. Responsible for hundreds of design patents over the course of his time at the company, Spangler is currently focusing on advanced water conservation technology. For our foray into inspiration, Spangler is switching gears, so to speak.
Like Clockwork: Eric Freitas Tells Time
The designer is enamored with the clockwork art of Eric Freitas, who describes his world as a realm of dark mechanical curiosities and horological contradictions. “His pieces reflect ancient human history, conjuring a time when every object was worth owning on every level,” says Spangler. There’s plenty of Steampunk inspiration in the manufacture’s newest collection owing, it seems, to Spangler’s roving eye. “Why just arrive when one can arrive in style?” He asks, pointing to the Steampunk recumbent bike. “Getting there should be half the fun!”
In a moment of witty repartee, he quips about the Steampunk laptop, “It’s surely more than the sum of all its parts!” Celine Kwok, who was born and raised in Singapore, is an industrial designer at Brizo. She has been unleashing her refined take on design in the U.S. for the past eight years. With a background in graphic design and furniture design, her obsession of the moment is found objects updated with contemporary flair. “There’s something brilliant about finding a piece to connect with and giving it a new lease on life,” she explains, noting the repurposed objects. “It is so exciting when you are able to be involved with the transformation of a thing while adding a touch of your own personality to it.
It’s the historic aspects of this updated Indian-style cookware that captured Kwok’s attention. “The cultural connotations tell the story as to why the form looks the way it does,” she remarks. “The beauty of this particular design is that the use of new materials refreshes a piece of cookware that otherwise would have been forgotten.” Citing the work of the Bouroullec Brothers, Kwok celebrates more than just history repeating: “I have always liked the idea of how one small shape, when repeated, can be interpreted in so many different ways and can make such an impact on space.” Last but by no means least, Seth Fritz is all over do-it-yourself these days.
In his current role as a lead designer for Delta Faucet Company, Fritz’s strong background in consumer-friendly design, market research, and creative problem solving has lead to numerous successful products in the current Delta and Brizo catalogues. “Now more than ever we’re creating home décor styles from mix-and-match elements: new and old, high-end paired with salvage, and industrial era with shabby chic,” he notes. “Up is down and right is left: we can break the rules of home decorating because we have empowered ourselves to do so! I love it, and I can’t get enough of it!” Honing in on the designer’s inspirations is like playing a game of hopscotch. Get ready for the jump!
Noting the items in this great DIY post on b*spoke blog, he riffs not unlike a Beat Poet: “Spray-painted garage-sale frame holds chalkboard; found objects in jars, anthropology change holder with iPod nestled in it.” Delving into the psychology behind the design, he notes, “It’s funny how seeing the iPod evokes as much emotion as the rest of the scene, but there’s no story behind it; whereas you see the chalkboard and immediately want to know more.
Fritz perused Apartment Therapy for this slight-of-hand that transformed a wood magazine holder into a mélange of vivacious color. “Though the Viva Terra holder in an espresso finish is beautiful and sleek, it’s lifeless—referred to as ‘doctor’s office like,’” he remarks. “The colorful version, also from Viva Terra, is made from scrap wood and covered in random magazine pages. It’s full of life and heart, a statement piece and piece of art.” Lastly, our jaunt through the blogosphere takes us to POINTclickHOME, where Fritz spied mirrors made from reclaimed metal bicycle wheels. “This is a design easily made at home,” he said. “Even though it has its original rustic finish, the design evokes a sense of modern flair.”
With this design team, the exploration is never completed, and its members ask, “What inspires you?” They would love to hear your answers, as they value interaction with other highly creative beings. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter. Look for a post later this week about a bevy of talented bloggers (now dubbed Blogger19) I met during my New York Fashion Week foray (which included a visit to Jason Wu’s runway show and was made possible by the generosity of Brizo). In the meantime, I’d love to know whether Roaming by Design is striking a chord with you. Sound off in the comment section of this or another post: I’m hungry for lively conversation!