My experience using traditional materials, such as wood, metal, and plastic, taught me how versatile and cost-effective they can be. However, I also discovered some of their potential macro implications: questionable sustainability, short-term toxicity, and long-term environmental damage. As I learned more about furniture design and production, this situation increasingly weighed on me, to the point where I elected to focus my final years in formal education examining one of the most basic of questions: the materials we use as designers. By getting outside our comfort zone and exploring new materials, we can create sustainable products that are not compromised in design.
Solving this is a longer-term effort. I have started by exploring the use of the mycelium fungus and evaluating various production processes, including factors such as energy consumed, interfaces with traditional materials, and sustainable adhesives and finishes, with the aim of delivering an end-to-end sustainably produced furniture design.
On a recent trip to Europe, I was fortunate to visit Brussels, and while there visited the Victor Horta museum. I found myself entranced with his organic, non-linear designs and inspired by the forms this took in Art Nouveau. I decided to produce a decidedly modern piece informed by these influences.
The NC4 is designed to boldly communicate its intent while sleekly concealing its versatility. Aluminum and polyester rigging are composed into an outdoor-friendly seat that adds motion and panache to any setting. I always loved endlessly rearranging furniture, and I designed this chair to invite just that: the chair has three completely different seating positions built in, and all it takes to move from one to another is an easy, seamless flip of the chair.
One of the first successful forays with mycelium fungus created these simple, shapely lamps. As the fungus emerged from the forms, each had its own distinct personality, and I elected to enhance this personality as I formed a custom armature to support each one.
Thus were born Mitzy, Poppy, Sunny, Clemy: four very much related but very different members of a family of lamps that add clean motion and distinctive character to a space.
San Francisco is a wonderful place to be outdoors, and it’s also a town known for its cocktails. I designed the Couples Travel Bar to offer the opportunity to combine the two in a stylish, portable mode, allowing two people to enjoy a beautiful vista without compromise: sipping a martini, served in quality glassware, properly mixed from fresh ingredients, and with space to pack everything back out and keep our public spaces pristine.
The CTB case is made of a rich walnut, with a triple coat of finish to give a durable but natural look. This is matched with timeless black leather and chrome hardware. The glassware is hand cut Hard Strong Japanese glass with stainless steel tools. There is room for two bottles of liquor, aperitifs, fruit, and towels.
The classic director’s chair is a perch with purpose. I decided to take this ideal and translate it into the lounge: designed to be comfortable while still adding a poised presence to the space.
The R chair is simple, relaxed, and sturdy. Built from tangible, solid hickory, which lends both strength and a rich, warm color, the back and seat are composed of tan suede, attached with brass hardware. The cantilevered seat offers a bit of drama without compromising the functional value of the piece.
My twin fascinations with furniture and the environment often join up when I see discarded items on the street. The concept and process of up-cycling is important when one considers that we live in an era with a legacy of mass overproduction of consumer goods that, unfortunately, continues. I love the challenge of taking something that was momentarily considered trash and discarded onto the street, and turning it into a glamorous item. It was also a great opportunity to tangibly demonstrate one of many necessary steps in lowering our collective environmental footprint. This chair thus offered a unique inspiration.
Simply put, the Glam is a found chair that I re-purposed to be its inverse: i.e., something that feels just the opposite of an item , lonely and discarded, as it sits on the street.
Nature offers us a rich bounty of inspiration; one only need to pause and observe. I was raised in a small mountain town located in a volcanic caldera, within which basalt flows had naturally formed efficiently matched, densely packed columnar shapes with such distinctiveness they have been made into an American National Monument. This provided some great raw material for me to use.
Named after this monument, the Postpile is a gaggle of tables and seats that nest together as if they were made together, just as with the basalt. Tremendously versatile in use, they are perfect for small, urban spaces that need contemporary functionality with a dose of the great outdoors at the same time.
The Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District asked for proposals on how to improve an awkward triangular-shaped street corner, with the goal of bringing a stagnant block in Temescal back to life. The block is the Thursday night location for Off the Grid, a food truck event that rotates through different neighborhoods in the Bay Area, and the District gave us the goal of improving the space both during Off the Grid and also during less intensive use during the day and on other nights of the week.
A colleague and I designed this space from the outset to deliver a different dynamic in this often-overlooked historic block: inviting strangers to pause for a moment, take in the neighborhood, and perhaps even strike up conversation with one another. The planters add much-needed organic beautification to a stark, concrete environment, and the awning provides a bit of refuge, encouraging passers-by to take a moment.
A special thanks to the TTBID for graciously funding this project and enabling the vision to come to fruition.