Erin: What are you curious about?
Colleen & Eric: Our curiosity abounds! The natural world is completely bizarre and amazing. Natural systems and patterns, insects, material properties, lava. Design can really be traced back to the earliest civilizations finding ways to work with and harness all these fascinating systems.
Erin: Describe your work and describe your process.
Colleen & Eric: We sometimes call our style expressive minimalism. Our process is about taking the inspiration for an idea and building a project around it, always working towards stripping away the excess - we want the concept to be the first thing you see when you look at a piece of ours. There’s a lot of sketching, trying to fully describe the idea to each other. Then we start making models, iterating, turning the idea on it’s head. We try to imagine all of the project’s possibilities, until the simple and unmistakable version emerges.
Erin: We love your playful designs- a single piece of wood knotted into a hanging light, a shelf with an oversized wing nut as a bookend, a table that’s a lamp with the lamp being the switch. Tell us about your design process and where the humor plays in.
Colleen & Eric: We’ve always loved playful design. It’s one of our first commonalities - we bonded over design crushing on Droog, the Campana Brothers, Marti Guixe, Henk Stallinga and the like. It’s flattering to be considered playful designers! We love the idea of a home being filled with objects that make you smile.
Erin: Your North Star table actually went into the outer space. Tell us about it and about your fascination with outer space.
Colleen & Eric: The table was inspired by Colleen’s grandfather who worked for Grumman. The inlay on the top of the table represents the star’s alignment on the night of the first moon landing. The inlay representing the North Star on the table is a button that when pushed releases a secret drawer in the table. Grumman built the Apollo Lunar Module (LM) which was the lander portion of the Apollo spacecraft built for NASA's first mission to the moon. Colleen grew up listening to her grandfather tell stories of working on this amazing project, the super high tech materials and the excitement of helping put the first people on the moon.
We entered the table in the Etsy/NASA space craft contest. As the winning piece our picture went to the International Space Station then returned to us! We also got to see the last shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral.
Erin: How does working as a team on all of your designs affect your approach. Is there always compromise?
Colleen & Eric: Working as a team is helpful for us - we both have different skillsets so we approach design elements/ideas differently. It’s invaluable to get a fresh perspective too - Working as a team allows each of us to think bigger and wilder, trusting the other’s judgement on the idea.
Erin: You work with wood, metal and LED lights. Where do you source your materials from and how does producing in Brooklyn present both benefits and challenges?
Colleen & Eric: We are constantly amazed at all the resources we have right here in Brooklyn. We haven’t had to leave the borough for many specialty services we’ve needed. When we made some aluminum parts that needed to be anodized, a little research turned up an anodizing shop 1 block away - now we use them regularly. That said, the shops are growing sparser due to rising rents and rezoning.
Erin: Tell us about your Mix Up table and end table with rearranged table leg segments that was a finalist in the Next Top Makers Competition.
Colleen & Eric: The purpose of the Next Top Makers competition was to give ideas/business plans a chance to incubate and develop. The MixUp table has existed in a few different versions throughout the past year and a half. We’re excited about the latest iteration of the table, where the concept has been simplified and it’s focused on highlighting and bringing together a variety of design languages we’ve always admired.
Erin: What superpower would you have and why?
Colleen & Eric: Flight! Travel is such a huge inspiration and so expensive. Oh to fly, first stop Myanmar!
Erin: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given and by whom?
Colleen & Eric: When we participated in WantedDesign a few years ago we got to speak with David Trubridge at length. He’s producing these fantastic lights that are distributed widely by several different stores. They are smart, beautiful and made in a small factory/design studio that he built from the ground up in New Zealand. He said that all you need is an idea you believe in, and to stick with it.
Erin: What are you working on next?
Colleen & Eric: Seating! We’re really excited about introducing a chair. It’s a challenge, what with all of all the ergonomic considerations involved, but also because there are so many great designs, classic and modern, that we love and want to live up to.
Erin: What is your dream project?
Colleen & Eric: Collaborating with other disciplines, even way outside of furniture design! We loved working with an electronic musician and a biologist on a one-off MixUp tabletop. Science is really fascinating, it would be really awesome to collaborate with someone using some emerging material or process.