Introducing Monogram Decor …

I started this blog in 2010 as a way to chronicle my adventures in culinary school.  Well culinary school quickly fell by the wayside but blogging continued.  The focus changed from school to work and I quickly found myself documenting the process it took to decorate our new home in Oakland with some blood, sweat and DIY trickery.  That experience opened up doors, opportunities and created lasting friendships that I am forever grateful to have had and know.

But something else happened.  As I toiled away trying to decorate my home, others started asking me for my assistance in decorating their abodes.  Flattered by the attention, I said yes to helping friends and family (and the occasional stranger) turn their houses into homes, fluff their surroundings and help make their lives a more beautiful experience.  And I felt fulfilled.  I felt alive.  I felt I was good at something and let me tell you, after spending a decade second guessing my career aspirations and licking my wounds from the failed bout at culinary school, finding something that I found peace AND excitement in doing was a tremendous feat.

So I tool classes, knocked on doors and even flew to Canada (hi Meredith!) to get what I could to learn the business of design better.  And I came back and toiled.  And floundered.  And flailed.  But I survived.  I wasn’t rich and barely turning a profit, but I was enjoying the process and so it went.  I hung my shingle and Courtney Lake Interiors was born.  Along with the blog I carved out a small niche in this world of design and tried my best to make my mark.  But something wasn’t right and this time I knew what it was.

I had spent this time, money and effort trying to build a brand on the back of something that wasn’t meant to house this aspiration.  Some people can do several things really well.  I cannot and it was becoming more evident that I had to make a decision.  However, I had to answer a question and this question would confirm how I would proceed not only with 2014 but with my career…….”was I a blogger or a designer?”

It was simple.  Through sheer will and dumb luck, I had emerged as a lifestyle blogger and was pretty damn good at it.  But I was building a business as an interior designer/decorator.  And my business was on the back of this beast called blogging.  It was a messy and incest riddled relationship that was causing confusion for clients, for the press and for me.  What as Courtney Lake Interiors?  What was Courtney Out Loud?  And in the end, I realized I needed some separation.  I needed to evaluate what kind of designer I wanted to be outside of the format of the blog.

I had spent years developing a voice for Courtney Out Loud.  I knew that person.  They were me.  Courtney Lake Interiors, I didn’t know.  It was what I thought I should be as a designer, not what I aspired to be in my heart of hearts.  So I opted in December of 2013 to change that.  I stopped blogging and focused on how to make the decorating business work.  I made a decision……

I wanted to be a decorator that blogged, not a blogger who moonlights as a decorator.  So that meant some changes.  The first was that I got help.  I worked with a great team of experts at Skout It to hone what I wanted the business to become.  I dreamed big and what I ended up with is a business that encompasses all the facets of what makes me excited to do design.  I would like to introduce Monogram Decor…….

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Monogram Decor is my attempt at making an indelible imprint on the design landscape.  It encompasses my design firm (Courtney Lake Interiors), my staging and photo styling business (CLIC) and lifestyle writing/speaking engagements.  It’s a young and fresh approach to decorating that doesn’t worry about perfection.  It’s about allowing the best of the client to shine in whatever project we are working on.

Am I scared?  Absolutely. Aside from officially debuting my design portfolio it is the first time I have been honest in what I want from myself professionally.  I had spent years being afraid of being 100% me in all aspects of my life and work.  Yet, the series of events in the last few months have just affirmed that when I am fully “me” the universe rewards that honesty.  Business has increased.  Press is seeking me out.  And I am confident.

And what about the blog?  It will exist but just like the business, it has matured, evolved and will be taking a different direction.  From the start, the blog was meant to chronicle the life’s adventures and it will continue to do that as part of Monogram Decor.  However, that means the blog as it currently stands will cease to exist which does give me a pang of sadness.  This has been my baby for several years and I can’t imagine where I would be professionally without it.  But I encourage you all to come experience the Monogram Decor Blog and see what it has to offer.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

So lets recap: New year. New business.  New web site.  New blog. New experiences.  So let’s get started…….

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CA Home+Design Awards Design Tastemaker of 2014 …

So I am hoping that your Thanksgiving holiday found you well fed and well-loved.  And if you did venture out yesterday for Black Friday that you scored some amazing deals and not too worse for the wear.  Did I also mention you look pretty today ……

The reason for all the sweet talking?  Well once again I am asking for your help to win something.  The editors over at CA Home + Design Magazine have this strange notion that I know a thing or two about style and design, so they nominated me for their 2014 Design Tastemaker Award! I also with 29 other amazing, talented and design-savvy individuals throughout California are up for this prestigious award.  Yes, I am competing against 29 other people for one award, so this is where I need your support.  From now through 5pm Monday (12/2) I would love, appreciate and desperately want you to vote for me (#28) on the list …..

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Voting literally takes 30 seconds — click on #28, input your email and you are done.

Here is the important part – you can vote once a day through 5pm PST on Monday, so that is 3 votes from each of you.  Each of you made it possible for me to win the trip to London and this could be a culmination to a simply amazing year.  The winner receives not only the accolade of 2014 Design Tastemaker but also a feature in the print issue of CA Home + Design!  A print feature about the business in a major publication is something I have dreamed about and I can’t fathom what this kind of PR would do for exposing a broader audience to my work.

And it’s all in my grasp but I can’t do it without each of you.  Let me stress that each and every vote is important.  For those of you who don’t remember from the Modenus contest, I won by less than 20 votes so don’t think that your vote won’t matter because it does!

On a final note, I again want to say thank you.  Thank you for your support, encouragement and motivation.  This blog has brought me so many opportunities that I never thought I would have or experience.  I take none of it for granted.  Even if I don’t win (but I really do!) I have hit the jackpot with friends, work, new colleagues and fantastic readers.

So unless you want to see a pic of me on my knees pleading (which I am not above doing), please go vote!  THANK YOU!

Check out my online Christmas shop at Joy & Revelry. Also find me on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram if you are in the mood for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness.

Artist Profile: Crystal Morey

This month I did a story for California Home + Design’s blog about animals as creative muses in artwork and profiled three great artists …..

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As with most writing assignments, you stumble upon more amazing information than you can fit into a piece.  However, I was smitten by sculptor Crystal Morey’s hauntingly beautiful work and reached out to her to see if she would be interested in being profiled on the blog.  Fortunately Crystal said yes and we began a hot and heavy email exchange — actually to be honest, it was pretty one-sided in that I couldn’t stop complimenting her pieces.  What struck me as most interesting is that her work reminded me of the Native American concept of spirit animals – the notion that within us all we have an animal counterpart.  For me, it was as if Crystal made the novel “Where The Wild Things Are” come to life and depict that unseen connection between man, beast and nature…..

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Looking at your work, your sculptures reference animal motifs juxtaposed with humans.  What is it about the connection between humans and animals that interests you?

I am interested in human and animal wellbeing, and how both species’ fates are woven together and will have a similar outcome. When making pieces I think about how we are all dependant on each other for the health and balance of our ecosystems and habitats. The relationship between humans, animals and the earth is very delicate and I want to raise awareness of this fragile connection with my work.

Your Totem series is beautiful.  Can you explain the concepts behind these pieces?

I had been working on a series of human figures interacting with endangered and extinct animals that are/were affected by hunting and habitat loss. As I worked through that body of work, I realized I really wanted to join the human and animal components. I felt this created more of an interrelated unit that presents the information while also creating an imaginative narrative. I started to look at animal totems, indigenous masks, and Egyptian iconography. I took ideas I found in images and stories and reworked them, thinking about modern environmental issues, like animals with stressed ecosystems due to human impact.

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Your childhood in the Sierra Nevada foothills seems to have deeply influenced your work.  Has your time in more urban areas, like your current home in Oakland affected your work?

I felt very close to the natural world growing up in a rural landscape. I remember being a small child, sitting on the back porch and looking out over an expansive array of pine, manzanita, and oak trees. The forest filled my entire world, extending down into a river valley, up the other side, and into the distant mountain ranges. I remember hearing about places where all of the trees had been cut down and I couldn’t even imagine how that could be possible. The world feels a lot smaller to me now, I live in Oakland and my connection to nature is more complex then it used to be. Living in an urban landscape I am very aware of how humans can control and contain the landscape. Living in both rural and urban areas has made me aware of this tension and it has become a great influence on my work in the studio.

I hope that as a viewer looks at my work they think about human, animal, and environmental relationships and the friction created between entities that are both contained and wild.

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What would you say is the common thread that links all your works together?

I am continually interested in how we as humans think about and relate to natural environments and other living creatures. These themes occur in my work in many ways and in many configurations. I always try to show grace and beauty in ideas that may be dark or difficult to think about.

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There is an idea among many cultures that humans have “spirit animals” which represent an aspect of ourselves.  What would you think your spirit animal would be and why?

That is a great question and one that is very hard to answer! I am interested in all kinds of animals (gazelles, deer, rhinos, giraffes, markhor, blackbuck, hawks, pigeons, buffalos and owls being at the top of the list). But if I had to pick one, it would probably be a black bear, who hibernates in the ground or holes in trees, forages for nuts and berries, and eats insects, fish and small animals. I have an affinity for bears because in many ways, they seem so human-like, while also being instinctual and dangerous. While bears are strong and fierce they are also one the first species to be affected by environmental change since they are near the top of the food chain. I think they are fascinating creatures and an interesting indicator of the health and balance of our ecosystem.

Seriously – isn’t Crystal’s work amazing?  I can’t wait to introduce her pieces to a few clients to get their reactions!

[photo credit: thailan when//earl gramling//sharon montrose//crystal morey]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Talking Out Loud With Janet Kain …..

There has been an explosion of entrepreneurs that are not in dot-com or finance.  These new waves of intrepid business owners are embracing more traditional job paths that forgo IPOs and embracing alternative careers.  They are artisans, crafts persons, shop owners and skilled collectors who are keeping time-honored traditions alive.  ”Talking Out Loud” is a chronicle of the conversations with these people about their work, life and inspirations……

I was introduced to pillows and soft goods of Janet Kain by a mutual friend and business colleague.  I am always excited when I meet individuals who find their passion a little later in life as I truly believe that it is that time we spend “marinating” that allows us so many distinct advantages in filling a market need.  Janet and her business partner, Sarin, sat down with me to talk pillows and what it takes to make the ultimate place to rest a weary head……

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With all the various home décor products you could design, why pillows?

(Janet) While I was decorating my own home, I found that it was very hard to find high quality pillows that made a statement – bold colors and graphics, without having them custom made.   I realized there was a gap in the marketplace for people who wanted fabulous high quality pillows without waiting months and meeting fabric minimums to have them custom made.  Pillows are the one home décor product that has the ability to transform a room and can easily be changed whenever you or your room needs a pick me up!

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What makes a “good pillow”?  What are the three key things consumers should look for when purchasing a pillow? 

(Sarin) What we think consumers should look for is not just a good pillow, but a great pillow!  The first thing to notice is the quality of the sewing (things such as pattern match up, high quality threads and invisible zippers).  Next, great pillows should have the same high quality fabric on both sides of the pillow, not a less expensive fabric on the back.  Last but not least, look for generously stuffed inserts made of feathers and down.

(J) I jokingly say that if a fabric doesn’t scream “touch me” as I walk by, it is left on the bolt.  When selecting a fabric, what things are you looking for?

(J) Excitement of colors is the first thing that catches my eye, bold colorful graphics that make a statement.   Linens, woven cottons, silks.  Coolness to the touch for summer fabrics, plushness and luxury in heavier fabrics for winter and year round.  When looking at neutrals we are drawn to dimension such as cotton velour on top of linen ground – those definitely call out to be touched!

Decorative pillows are what I call the “crown jewels” of a finished room.  What are 2-3 other things you think complete a room.

(J) We fully agree with that!  I always say pillows to home décor are the equivalent of dazzling accessories to a little black dress.  A coordinating throw and a fabulous tray are two other finishing touches that tie a room together and complete the look.

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All of your pillows are made in upstate New York.  Why was it important to you to have your products manufactured stateside?

(S) Quality.  To ensure the craftsmanship lives up to our high standards, we feel it is important to have the sewing done in the States to maintain the quality control.  It costs more, but it is worth it for quality.  We are also proud to be able to do our part in keeping jobs here in the USA.

You opened the business in 2008, right before the recession, but weathered the storm.  What did that time frame teach you being a small business owner?  Any words of wisdom you would share?

(S) What we found is that even when you’re not able to spend the money to redecorate an entire room, changing pillows is a great way to transform the room and freshen up your existing furniture.  For this reason, our pillows sold very well during the recession.  Starting a small business is tough in any economy, but as long as you don’t cut corners on quality, you can hopefully ride out the hard times.  A great tip we can pass along that we have learned is when budgets are tight, social media is an inexpensive way to get the word out about your brand, so don’t underestimate the power of that medium!

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Many designers dream about launching a signature line of home décor and accessories but you did.  What do you think was the one thing you would share with someone contemplating a similar move?

(J) Stay true to your vision and don’t deviate from your look.  Select items that complement your main product and fit within that aesthetic.

You have several collections on the web site.  What goes into creating a collection?  What can we expect from future collections?  What’s on the horizon?

(J) Pattern themes, colors that work well in certain settings and where we envision them being used.  We always stay ahead of the curve on home design trends.  Right now, plum and charcoal are hot, which we had in our fall collection and we see that continuing through the winter.  We watch fashion trends closely because of the strong tie between fashion and home décor.  Not ready to give up our secrets yet on what’s next, but you can sign up for our email updates to see what we have in store for next spring!

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Life, like pillows, often gets tossed around, so as the final question, what would you say is your “recipe” for being on course and not letting the things that life tosses at you get in the way?

(J & S) The partnership between Sarin and me really helps keep us on track and focused.  We have very different skill sets and backgrounds and are able to bring both to the table to complement each other perfectly.  Having passion for what you do, setting priorities and a great partnership is the recipe that has led to success for us!

Thank you Janet and Sarin!  Check out all the beautiful pillows and soft goods on the Janet Kain website!  I have my eye on a pair of the Criss Cross Pillows and the cognac leather tray for a client…..and perhaps the  Sea Breeze Hourglass throw for me if I am a good boy come the holidays!

[photo credit: Janet Kain]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Talking Out Loud with BEAM …..

There has been an explosion of young entrepreneurs that are not in dot-com or finance.  These new waves of young business owners are embracing more traditional job paths that forgo IPOs and embracing alternative careers.  They are artisans, crafts persons, shop owners and skilled collectors who are keeping time-honored traditions alive.  ”Talking Out Loud” is a chronicle of the conversations with these people about their work, life and inspirations……

You just never know.  My clients-turned-dear-friends invited The Partner and myself to go to Palm Springs with them a  few months ago along with a few of their other friends.  One of the other people on the trip happened to be my client’s best friend from college, Ali.  What struck me immediately about Ali was his almost encyclopedic knowledge about furniture.  While law may be Ali’s profession, design is his passion, so much so that last month he took a leap of faith. teamed up with a business partner and opened up a fantastic retail store in Brooklyn called BEAM.  As Ali puts it, the store’s style” is a bit mid-century, and a bit rock and roll with a healthy dose of humor.”

Sounds like a place I could quickly fall in love with.  It’s also why I cornered Ali and forced him to this interview……

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Finish this sentence…. “A lawyer and an antiques dealer open a home décor store and…..”

… both Elle Woods and Hanna Horvath shop there and love it!
 
The trend over the last few years has been to open an online store, so why did you decide to open up a physical storefront?
 
Personally I love the experience of shopping in a physical store — all of your senses are engaged, you can touch and feel the product, there’s a social aspect if you are shopping with a friend or interacting with the store’s staff, there’s the thrill of discovering something really special that you fall in love with.  Online stores are convenient, but I don’t think they will ever be able to re-create that experience.  That said, we are planning to launch an online store soon, to complement our physical location.  You almost have to have an e-commerce presence these days, because even if people love and visit your brick-and-mortar store, they want the option of being able to shop from home as well.
 
The store has an emphasis on nurturing emerging talent.  Who are some of the new designers and their products in the store?
 
We are lucky to have so many talented artists and designers in our backyard!  Right now, we’re showcasing Deborah Shavlik’s wool and cashmere pillows and bags with pills, lips, and starburst designs on them, which Deborah makes using a felting technique not unlike tattooing; byAMT’s leather strap baskets, which make handsome storage for your magazines; and Colin Adrian’s stained glass feathers, which create a great visual when hung up in a window and the light reflects off the different colored glass.

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What are the hot sellers in the store right now?  Are you noticing a trend in what people are buying for Fall?
 
Anything in a warm metallic, like copper or brass, has been big.  Japanese shibori tie-dyed textiles have been popular.  People also love this very unique Seletti dinnerware set we found, which melds traditional Eastern patterns with Western designs to create “hybrid” pieces.

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As Christmas draws, what 2-3 things do you think would make a perfect holiday present that you currently have in the store?
 
Everyone on my holiday list is getting a “Brooklynese” coffee set, which comes packed with two “Cawfee” cups, a “Shuguh” bowl, and a “Creamah” pitcher – great for anyone with a special place in their heart for New York.  Alexandra Ferguson’s bold typography pillows have fun sayings on them like “Let’s Make Out,” “Be Nice or Leave,” “Go to the Gym,” “Call Your Mother,” and so on.  There’s a saying for everyone, so you can get through you holiday shopping list pretty quickly.  Jon McCoy’s crystal votive holders are really special and make great gifts.  They are handmade using crystals like amethyst and quartz, and when you light them up, they literally glow from the inside.

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Having spent time on both coasts, have you noticed any major differences in how people decorate their homes in NYC versus Los Angeles? 
 
One of the things I love about LA is that the weather allows you to create these great indoor-outdoor living spaces, which isn’t as easy in New York.  Folks in LA aren’t afraid of color, and the style is more casual.  New Yorkers like things a bit more polished, architectural, with clean lines.  Most New Yorkers also have space issues, so finding furniture and accessories that serve multiple purposes is more important.
 
Being in the home décor business you are exposed to a multitude of “lust worthy” items.  What are 3 things that make your heart go “pitter patter” that you would love to own?
 
It’s hard to pick just three, but right now I’m lusting after Tom Dixon’s black velvet mohair highback chair, Bocci’s globe pendant chandeliers, and Brian Gennett’s line of trays and side tables made from vintage leather book covers and antique brass (which we will be carrying in the store soon!).

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As a small business owner, what two pieces of advice would you give to someone planning on opening his or her own store?

First, have a concept.  The most successful small retailers have a unique perspective or point of view, and their customers return to them again and again because of that.  Second, do your research.  The technical details can be boring, but you have to know the demographics of your market, who your competitors are, where you are going to source your product, how much it is going to cost, how long it takes to make.  As a small business owner, every decision counts, so you have to arm yourself with as much information as possible to make informed decisions.
 
If you had to describe the ingredients that went into making Beam the strong brand it is today, what would you say they were?

Seeking out good design for our customers is at the core, because we strongly believe that good design makes your life better.  A sense of humor is also important, because these days people lead such stressful lives, it’s nice to see someone come into the store, pick something up, and smile.

Thank you Ali and I am so excited to spread the BEAM gospel of good design mixed with a healthy dose of humor.  That my friends is a recipe for success in my book!

[pictures courtesy of BEAM, Deborah Shavlik, byAMT, BEAM, Brian Gennett, Tom Dixon & Bocci Lighting]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

And We’re Live Video Workshop…..

It’s no secret that I don’t mind being on camera.  Unlike alot of people, the camera doesn’t scare me.  However, that doesn’t mean that being in front of the camera comes naturally.  I would say I have an affinity for it but it is something that definitely has to be nurtured and practiced, like any natural ability such as drawing, singing or drinking (errr) …… As I delve deeper into this rabbit hole called design, being on camera is becoming more and more common, so it makes sense invest in video training that not only helps me look and sound my best but gives me the tools to really convey the essence of who I am…..

Enter Kelley Moore, television personality and lifestyle expert, and her And We’re Live Video Workshop……

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I had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural workshop in Seattle with several other lifestyle and design personalities.  Over the course of 3 days, Kelley leads you through a series of exercises that really dive into what makes you…..well you.  An emphasis is paid to having each participate articulate their brand identity.  And before you mumble the phrase “but I don’t have a brand….” think again.  As Kelley points out early on, if you have a blog, web site or business, then you have a brand, so it behooves you to spend the time and energy defining it before someone does it for you!

The workshop is divided into three basic groupings:

  • Define, Refine & Design:  During the first day, you will spend considerable time working in large and small groups to define your personal brand, the key messages behind it and creating a short, succinct elevator/marketing pitch.  Don’t worry, it isn’t like school since the day is broken up by fantastic industry panels and a few fun surprises.
  • Pitch, Ditch, Hitch: The second day finds you taking all the work from Day One and putting it to use, because my friends, you are going to be pitching your brand to real producers.  No – these aren’t mock or role-playing games…..it’s the real deal baby.  Kelley mined her industry contacts to bring producers, bookers and other editors into the Workshop so you have the opportunity to really understand what they are looking for when selecting talent.  What’s your hook?  What’s your story?  And by all means, don’t bury the lead!  It’s scary and exhilarating at the same time because once you pitch, you are back working figuring out how what worked, ditching it and refining the aspects of your personal story that were most compelling.  Last, you are taking all that you learned and putting it down into the form of a script because my friends you are shooting the next day!  But don’t worry, Kelley has one-on-ones with each participant to help outline a script that lets you and your brand shine!
  • Showtime:  Two days of prep lead up to the big deal – shooting your own video using the script you wrote.  Hair, make-up, sound and video are provided by a team of experts along with Kelley who will be coaching you through the process.  After the video shoot, you are whisked off to have your professional head shot done because honestly you are already dolled up to perfection so why waste the golden opportunity!

So to recap, you get coaching from a television personality with insider knowledge, access to working industry professionals in TV and print for networking, brand consulting and a professionally shot & edited 2 minute along with a headshot for one price?  Oh did I mention that it is three days of pretty much non-stop fun?  Check out the pics from my time in Seattle……

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s work but it’s beyond rewarding!  I will be sharing my video shortly with you all as part of a larger project but from what I have seen, I am beyond excited to share!

Speaking of sharing, Kelley has three more Workshops through the end of the year: San Francisco, Seattle and New York and there is still room in the San Francisco Workshop!  If you have ever wanted to test the waters in video, then I highly suggest you book one of her workshops now.  I can only speak for myself but it has improved my on-camera confidence tremendously and has opened the door to a variety of queries/business opportunities that I didn’t know existed.  Think of going to the Workshop has an early Christmas present ….and one you won’t be returning coming the new year!

[pictures courtesy Belathée Photography]

Check me out on PinterestTwitter and Insta.gram for more musings on design, food and just plain randomness. You can also find me at my online shop for Joy & Revelry.

Talking Out Loud with Miles 112…..

Talking Out Loud is where I talk to young entrepreneurs and artisans about their careers, the path of how they got there and what lies on the horizon for them.  It’s their thoughts, their words and their journey…….

I was recently introduced to the furniture line Miles 112 and it’s owner and creative director, Benjamin Hall.  I was immediately smitten with his work – the lines are beautiful, the materials luxe and it feels how custom furniture should…..as if it was designed just for you and only you.  It is this attention to detail that found me inviting him to create a capsule collection for my Joy & Revelry store.  The three piece collection distills what Benjamin does best —- beautiful quality pieces for the modern home.

I sat down with Benjamin and we talked about his career path, his inspirations and what he thinks is the greatest compliment someone could give him……

Benjamin Headshot

Why opening up a furniture store?  There are so many different types of stores to open, so what did you see that was “missing” from the home goods landscape?

It wasn’t a calculated decision. I was personally developing pieces that inspired me to imagine. I have a tendency to want to rethink things we already take for granted. This is my mentality and it’s pointless to explore if you don’t share your journey and discoveries. That’s why my shop exists.

Can you share a little about your background?  Did you always know you wanted to be an artisan?

I grew up loving to draw and helping my dad with carpentry projects. It wasn’t until I went to college for architecture that I found a concrete application of those two passions.

Your designs have a fluidity and balance to them?  What inspired the 3 pieces that are currently featured in the pop-up store?

It’s difficult to say there is a divine inspiration that the three share, but I can say that these three items all share my interest in steel. The planters are about repurposing a commodity item. The two chairs are about sitting in a frame that acts like a spring with or around our body.

 Noonan Chair When creating a new furniture piece which comes first, the design or the material?

 This is tough because my mind is subconsciously hardwired to the properties of all sorts of materials, so when I put pencil to paper I usually already know what the material is internally. My biggest problem is when I play the game of switching materials. This typically sends me back to the drawing board for a whole new design.

In your opinion, what makes a “”good chair”?

 This is difficult because, like architecture, the needs or comfort change as you get older. I used to love big puffy chairs that I would sink into, but then I got older and realized that I had very poor posture, partly due to how I was sitting in chairs. Then, I developed back problems when building. With those needs in mind, I developed the chair “Modesto,” which has a low-to-the-ground slung cowhide with a simple steel frame. At first look, you might not even know it is a chair, but oddly enough this chair has done wonders for my back. That being said, a good chair is a chair you like to be in.

Lean Container Your job is something that many consider a hobby, so it begs to ask what do you do for fun? 

 It’s true, designing and building furniture is a hobby, passion, and a dream. My day job is applying these attributes to architecture, but when I step away from design altogether to have fun, it’s to do outdoorsy things.

If money was no object, is there a furniture piece that you would go out and buy for yourself?

I have always been a big fan of the work of Poul Kjaerholm. I find his work way ahead of the times and much more rich than the Eames, especially when you look closely at the details.

Skin and Bones Chair

At one time, furniture was bought, as something you know would be passed down from generation to generation.  You are creating heirloom quality pieces that I see future generations coveting, so with that said, what do you think could be the greatest compliment someone could say about your pieces in 50 years?

That’s really kind to hear. I’d would be honored if my work was coveted. I suppose the greatest compliment would not be a verbal one, but instead a visual one. Most of my work is made from natural materials that, when used often, leave a patina. The quality of the patina is a direct story of how much the piece is loved.

A big thank you to Benjamin for sharing his insight and thoughts.  As I said, I am excited to be working with Benjamin on this capsule collection and hope you enjoy it to!  To see more pics of the pieces, visit my Joy & Revelry store.

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