Artist and designer, Chris Schanck, moved upwards of 22 times in his youth. He credits Uncle Rocco with firing up his creative engine at an early age, and an arts magnet school in adolescence with “saving his life.” That’s not an overstatement. Fast forward a few years and he’s developed a distinct visual language, has a solo show at a prestigious gallery under his belt, and critically successful body of work. Now, he’s built a life and studio in Detroit, where he is attempting to put down some roots.
Ingrid LaFleur is an artist, curator, pleasure activist, cannabis advocate and founder of Afrotopia, a creative platform that looks for ways to implement afrofuturist principles. She is also a very emphatic and supportive native of Detroit. In fact, in 2017 she ran for Mayor and created a plan of action that included radical thought, innovative ideas and solid brilliant logic. She’s doing the work, gently and joyfully crafting a future of conscious co-liberators, decentralized power and decolonized minds.
We teamed up with COS for this Clever Extra to celebrate the exquisite art of Dorothea Rockburne. Courtney J. Martin, Chief Curator of Dia Art Foundation, elaborates on Rockburne’s conceptual approaches and techniques while offering us a view of her curatorial methods in mounting a long-term exhibition of her work. Karin Gustafsson, Creative Director for COS, reveals how her admiration for Rockburne’s work - the lines, textures and simplicity of materials, inspired the direction of the current collection.
Furniture designer Maximilian Eicke grew up being schlepped around the world to galleries and and antiques shops by his art dealer father. All that input served to make him feel at home anywhere in the world and yet, in a quasi-rebellious sort of way, instilled in him the desire to create something original. His childhood was both blessed by love and privilege and cursed by bullying and attempts to invalidate his creativity—a recipe for gratitude, perspective, and turbo drive to disprove the naysayers.
Architect Barbara Bestor’s childhood memories involve Brutalist architecture and purple carpeted stairs. She divided her youth between the East Coast, Germany and the Midwest, before venturing to Los Angeles, the land of sunshine and smog, to make her mark. Over twenty years later, her studio is responsible for some of the most culturally relevant workplaces, hospitality venues and experimental residences in the greater Los Angeles area. Now she’s thinking a lot about urban density and the 2028 Olympics.
Industrial designer Ti Chang is co-founder and creative director of Crave, a start-up dedicated to innovative and elevated sex toys. Originally from Taiwan, as a child Ti moved with her family to the U.S. and grew up feeling out of place in small-town Georgia. Loneliness had its upside though; less friends, more creative time! An independent thinker and brave warrior for female empowerment, she’s on a mission to eradicate shame and guilt, and believes all women should own their pleasure. Amen, sister!
We teamed up with Tarkett for this Clever Extra to take a deep dive into Neoculture - a term coined to describe the way diverse cultures are coming together as never before to create entirely new cultures with new values. Suzanne Tick, a product and textile designer, and Chris Stulpin, Chief Creative Officer for Tarkett have done extensive research into the attitudinal shifts and megatrends that inform Neoculture, how it impacts the future of the built world, and why it matters to the design community.
President and Creative Director of Bernhardt Design, Jerry Helling, grew up on a ranch in a remote town with 11 people in his graduating class before venturing to USC and a potential career in Hollywood. A personal epiphany combined with serendipity rerouted him into the furniture business, resulting in a long and distinguished career as a keen mentor of talent, a champion of originality, a risk-taking, needle-moving industry voice, and a major benefactor of international design. Plus, he’s really nice!
Fashion journalist and design retailer Rose Apodaca wears many professional hats. She spent her youth immersed in the lively Los Angeles music and skateboarding scenes, then became a journalist covering city politics, gang detail and street tribes. After a stint as the west coast bureau chief of Women’s Wear Daily, she started A+R, a design retail business, with her partner Andy. Along the way she’s owned a few bars, written a few books, adopted a child and lived every day with an enviably stylish gusto.
Eric Quint, Chief Design Officer of 3M, incubated a lifelong habit of design thinking in youth at the family kitchen table. After studying engineering and industrial design he embarked on a distinguished career at Philips where he evolved from designer to design leader. Now, as the first CDO of 3M, he’s a champion of collaborative creativity and spends his energy in the exciting and complex job of pushing the front edge of progress. Oh, and he’s a jazz guy—find out how that influences his leadership style.
Product designer and installation artist, Nika Zupanc, has always had a strong emotional reaction to furniture, both positive and negative. Born and raised in former Yugoslavia, she was attracted at a young age to books, cinema and art and that sense of drama and narrative shows up in her work. Her path to design is a pretty straight line; determined, focused and passionate, punctuated by a rebellious use of pink, and a fierce protectiveness of her creativity through time spent in nature and the gym.
Car designer Oliver Heilmer has known he wanted to go into auto design since he was a little kid fascinated by tractors on his grandmother’s farm. He grew up in Munich, Germany drawing machines and vehicles on any paper available, and then studied industrial and automobile design in school. Soon after graduation, he landed a job with BMW Group and has been there ever since. Now, as the head of MINI Design, he’s dedicated to designing for innovation and emotion. This is a long-term love affair, indeed.
Metalworker and designer Meyghan Hill tells Amy and Jaime how she opted to send herself to military boarding school and then stumbled into a modeling career before empowering herself after a bad break-up by learning to weld. She operates under the provocative and polarizing name of (wh)ORE HAüS Studios, and while it is a play on words, it is also a very powerful conversation-starter, which she then parlays into meaningful dialogue. This episode contains modeling and metal, yes, but no “blue steel” jokes.
Strategic designer Todd Bracher regales us with tales of a serendipitous ten-year journey, living, loving and learning through Europe, on the way to launching his namesake studio in Brooklyn. Plus, he walks us through what the hell “strategic design” even means, schools us on the concept of “irreducible complexity” and explains his creative approach which he refers to as “essentialism.” Early on, he showed up to a big pitch meeting way overdressed, and now he keeps a poet on standby.
Collector and high-design advocate, Lisa Roberts, reflects on a childhood spent in an architecturally significant home that discomfited her because it made her feel different from her peers, and also ignited her passion for design because it seeped into her very being. Now, having collected more than 400 “Antiques of the Future,” she uses her collection to educate, author books, and advocate for the game changing power of design. Not too shabby for ol’ Curtains Roberts, eh? Mr. Waffles approves. Meow!
Designer, illustrator and artist Timothy Goodman was labeled a “dead-end kid” in his youth until he did four years of hard labor with a mentor/father-figure in the home improvement industry, through which he found both discipline and a desire to study design. A degree and a few more mentors later he’s now known for his illustrations, viral social experiments, murals, books and even protests. Plus, he’s checking his white cis straight male privilege and championing inclusion in ways both meaningful and practical. Pretty rad.
Entrepreneur and internet pioneer, Jen Bekman, tells the story of how she founded 20x200 with a mission of making art collecting accessible to everyone. On the leading edge of ecommerce, 20x200 achieved enormous initial success and grew very quickly. Jen tells her powerful story of adapting her business on-the-fly as the internet landscape shifted dramatically under her feet—her perseverance fed by a deep belief that living with art is good for you, and the creation of art itself is an act of bravery. Bravo!
Designer, entrepreneur, and Airbnb co-founder, Joe Gebbia, was known as the “art guy” in grade school when he started his first business selling illustrations of Ninja Turtles. Then, while pursuing dual design degrees, he founded his first legit startup with RISD’s basketball team, The Balls. Now as the leader of innovation and ideation at Airbnb he’s focused on exploring new attitudes of sharing and trust. Oh, and don’t tell him he can’t do something. He will go to extremes to prove you wrong. Isn’t that so, Professor Jones?
Fashion designer Mary Ping was influenced at a young age by a stylish grandmother who taught her to sew. Always knowing she’d one day run her own label, she studied art at Vassar and worked in east London’s scene before founding her conceptual line, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, a living archive of wardrobe classics, reexamined. Not one to participate on the hamster wheel of trends, she prefers injecting social commentary and sartorial wit into her work. Plus, her photographic memory weirds people out.
We teamed up with Interface for this Clever Extra to dissect and reflect on the current office renaissance. It’s moving away from one-size-fits all toward addressing the needs, rhythms and health of the individual. But what are those needs? How do we address them through design? Is this also good for the brand? We talked to Interface’s Chief Design Officer, Chip DeGrace and corporate interior design specialist Beth Davis to tackle this subject from all angles. Here’s a tip - don’t forget about acoustics!
International design star, Marcel Wanders, grew up in the Netherlands taking things apart and making gifts from the pieces. After a rebellious and experimental adolescence, he discovered design in school and fell in love. Then he got kicked out. 20+ years later, with many global successes (products, furniture, lighting, and magical hospitality interiors) to his name, he is focussed on celebrating small victories, continually learning something new, and warning against the dangers of design fundamentalism.
MoMA’s senior curator of Architecture & Design, Paola Antonelli, grew up steeped in the design culture of Milan and developed a sense of fearlessness from frequent travels to foreign lands. After studying architecture in school she landed in the curatorial arts without even aiming for it. She talks to Amy and Jaime about how she views objects as lenses for understanding the complexity of the built world and her passionate belief that cultural institutions, like museums, are the R&D of society. *Swoon*
Product designer Ini Archibong grew up taking things apart with little success putting them back together, and cutting class to throw pottery. After a false-start in business school, he taught himself CAD, philosophy, and mathematics until he serendipitously found himself apprenticing an architect. That led to a degree from Art Center and discovering a love of designing furniture. Now he lives and works in Switzerland where he recently obtained a Master’s in Luxury (listen to find out what that means!).
The President of Rhode Island School of Design, furniture designer/maker Rosanne Somerson was considered a rabble rouser in her youth for attempting to take a woodshop class while being female. Undeterred, she found her way to a BA in Industrial Design from RISD and built her name as a leader in the studio furniture movement. Now the president of RISD, having also co-founded RISD’s Furniture Design department, is carving new ways forward for arts and design education and championing the power of boredom.
Interior designer and TV personality Nate Berkus reveals his favorite early 80’s fashion ensemble, his childhood obsession with hair product and how his youthful restlessness got him sent to boarding school and even landed him in jail for a night. He shares the big lessons he learned from his years working with Oprah and elaborates on his earnest mission to help people tell their own stories through their spaces. Oh and apparently he’s a “bad picker” of people, but he’s gotten help with that.