edited by Alexa Yablonski -- Interior Design, 1/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
Eminently Emmerson Troop
The simple truth is: Simple isn't easy. "Simplicity is always the most elusive thing," contends British designer William Emmerson. "I hate busyness in furniture. I believe in a seamless whole." His cohesive furniture collection, shown at his West Hollywood shop, Emmerson Troop, bears the influence of early Shaker purity and French design of the '40s, '50s, and '60s. "During that time, England was completely lost, but even the most average French desk had style and je ne sais quoi," says Emmerson, praising Jean-Michel Frank and Jean Prouvé as the ultimate in refinement. Emmerson calls the latter his "hero of industrial design" and cites him as an inspiration for wall-mounted bookshelves that affordably mix European plywood and extruded aluminum—bringing the piece within reach of Prouvé admirers who can't buy the real thing. Emmerson's dining chairs, distinguished by an L-shape groove inside each tapered leg, show that simple can even be sexy. In fact, Versace's recent ad campaign features Emmerson's dining chair, propped nicely by Linda Evangelista. 8111 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048; 323-653-9763; emmersontroop.com. circle 317
Didier Blardat's inspiration is quite simple: "I make things for myself. I create what I want that doesn't already exist." Watching television is much more comfortable on an extra-wide chaise longue. So the Parisian designer created one. He also came up with an oval dining table. Why? "The form has been rather neglected in recent years, yet for me it's perfect. A group of four can sit opposite one another. A bigger party can sit around it."
It's easy to imagine these scenarios in the apartmentlike environment of Interior Lab, the 7th-arrondissement showroom that Blardat recently opened for his inaugural furniture collection. (The area is quickly becoming a design hub, with Christian Liaigre and India Mahdavi both just a stone's throw away.) The space once housed offices. "There were four or five different rooms," he recalls. After essentially knocking down everything and starting from scratch, he now has three separate spaces—a living room, a dining area, and a bedroom—each delimited by lime-green organdy-net curtains. The envelope is white, asserts Blardat, "so that the wood of the furniture can make its presence felt." He decided on large floor tiles to emphasize the furniture's lines.
His creations are highly adaptable. Standing lamps can be adjusted and twisted almost any way you care to. His magazine rack is deliberately wide enough to store bottles of water, too. Taking a cushion off an ottoman transforms it into a coffee table. The back of a daybed, meanwhile, comes off to serve as a pillow if you feel like taking a siesta. "The furniture of our parents' generation was too strict and rigid," says the 38-year-old. "Sofas should be for both wallowing and working."
Most of Blardat's production is done by craftsmen in the Vendée region of western France. His turned wooden objects are made in the Jura, in the east; sofas and anything plastic are fabricated around Paris. Working in French wood only—oak, walnut, sycamore, chestnut, cherry—he subjects it to sanding and staining, among various treatments. He also has a predilection for fabrics with a technical edge. For instance, he uses a Kvadrat wool blend that contains Elastane.
Clearly in the thick of the design world these days, Blardat took his time before embarking on his current career. He started out selling advertising for a publishing company, then worked as the commercial director for several trade shows and for a company that produces business-to-business films and television documentaries. From an early age, however, he sketched his own furniture, and his notion of craftsmanship is second nature. The son of a stonemason, Blardat used to help out on building sites as a youngster. He also remembers making a bedside table in painted wood at age 15. "What interests me is the combination of tradition and modernity, using ancient techniques to create something new," he declares. "Plus, I like things that have a story to them."
The catalysts in his decision to pursue design professionally were buying a Philippe Starck table named Tippy Jackson for his very first apartment and seeing the 1987 Le Corbusier exhibition at the Centre Pompidou. In 1996, he launched his designs commercially at the Maison & Objet trade show in Paris. There were vases, wooden candleholders, and little pedestal tables. Success was almost immediate: One of his early fans was style icon Joyce Ma. In no time at all, his client list included David Champion, William Yeoward, and Michael Reeves in the U.K., Atmosphère in Geneva, Green Gable in Tokyo, and Bergdorf Goodman and Intérieurs in New York. And Blardat manufactures everything himself. "That way, I have great freedom," he explains. "Nobody imposes conditions on me. I can do what I want, when I want. It's wonderful!"
35 Rue de Bellechasse, 75007 Paris, France; 33-1-45-50-27-21. circle 318
Nucraft Furniture Company
Centric is sure to enrich corporate culture. The collection pairs fine veneers—such as figured anigre and rift-cut oak—with brushed nickel and frosted glass for a contemporary, luxurious look suited to lobbies and corridors. Edgy asymmetry informs the silhouette of the tables, benches, and consoles. 5151 West River Drive, Comstock Park, MI 49321; 877-682-7238; nucraft.com. circle 319
At different times in the past 55 years, Bretford has manufactured hair driers, sun lamps, and AV equipment—in other words, the company has never stuck to formulas. Its latest product line, Plus, focuses on the work environment. With the help of Bang Design and Formway Design Studio, Bretford has given foam a fancified new existence in the form of furniture. Sinuously shaped sofas, chairs, and ottomans in laminated polyurethane are enhanced by seamless upholstery. 11000 Seymour Avenue, Franklin Park, IL 60131; 800-521-9614; bretford.com. circle 323
Forget about multipurpose rooms with improvised furnishings. Get Set allows training and conference rooms to meet the needs of the facility manager, speaker, and attendees. Lightweight tilt-top tables are easy to maneuver and store; chairs with comfy seat cushions and flexible backs can stack or nest; large-format wall-mounted boards can flip, thanks to a swivel hook. And functionality doesn't come at the expense of sleekness. 2210 Second Avenue, Muscatine, IA 52761; 563-262-4800; allsteeloffice.com. circle 320
Colebrook Bosson Saunders
Deceptively simple but enormously flexible, Albert offers a range of modular elements. Work surface, flat-screen arm, keyboard tray, privacy screen, and more are organized around a column.
4248 Kalamazoo Avenue, Suite C, Grand Rapids, MI 49508; 616-281-4612; cbs-products.com. circle 322
Designed for a lecture hall at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, this state-of-the-art lectern can serve corporations as well as educational institutions. High-tech touches include a push-button motorized lift system, a "technology well" that enables users to connect laptops to power and data cables, and an optional touch-sensitive plasma panel for controlling a room's light, sound, and presentation equipment. 1330 Bellevue Street, P.O. Box 8100, Green Bay, WI 54308; 800-424-2432; ki.com. circle 321
With a streamlined art deco look and Jurassic proportions, the Flower seating collection's armchair, sofa, and ottoman verge on outrageous. NYIT Design, 27 Bleecker Street, Suite 4B, New York, NY 10012; 866-499-6948; nyitdesign.com. circle 324
J. Robert Scott
Sally Sirkin Lewis has added Boxer to Scott Classics, her affordably elegant line of furnishings. The vintage-look sofa derives its distinction from a mod design and fine details, including a knife-edge seam on the face and top of each arm. 500 North Oak Street, Inglewood, CA 90302; 310-680-4300; jrobertscott.com. circle 327
De Sede of Switzerland
If Mario Bellini's DS-716 dining chairs are arrayed around the table, we're sure to RSVP in the affirmative. We were seduced by such sexy details as the tightly wrapped leather seat and back's peekaboo corners, which reveal a gleaming polished-aluminum frame. 200 Summer Street, Stamford, CT 06905; 203-353-8114; desede.com. circle 325 DDC, 181 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016; 212-685-0800; ddcnyc.com. circle 325
Office Research & Technology
Not usually perceived as a hotbed of high design, Bulgaria nevertheless laid claim to the "chair of the year" citation at Promosedia's Salone Internazionale della Sedia in 2002. SeatTable, designed by Ilian Vladimirov Milinov, performs two functions, shifting easily from seat to table. 27 Krustyo Sarafov Street, Sofia 1164, Bulgaria; 359-2-91-997; ort-officefurniture.com. circle 326
Fling has recently been added to Fusion, a line of textiles combining Xorel with linen and cotton. A textured solid, Fling incorporates a crimped cotton-bouclé filling yarn, for a nice hand, and a touch of matte, for contrast with Xorel's sparkle. A pair of stripes, Escape and Indulge, are better suited to panels than to walls. 110 North Centre Avenue, Rockville Centre, NY 11570; 516-678-6770; carnegiefabrics.com. circle 328
Innovations in Wallcoverings
Indulge in the shimmer of Gelato. The line's Type II wall coverings come in subtly textured blueberry, coconut, and lemon verbena, among a handful of colorways. 150 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-807-6300; innovationsusa.com. circle 329
Utilizing top-notch printing and embossing techniques on a composite-wood veneer, WonderWood wall coverings replicate the luxurious look of precious domestic and exotic species. To aid in installation, grain patterns are engineered to match from sheet to sheet. 979 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022; 800-347-0550; wolf-gordon.com. circle 330
Colefax and Fowler
This smart and veddy British company's latest selection of wallpapers is as sharp as ever. Wentworth is a sweet wreathed pattern perfect for traditionalists. For a larger-scale statement, choose Indienne, an exotic toile, or Chelford Damask. Standards, such as stripes and striés, also available. Cowtan & Tout, 111 Eighth Avenue, Suite 930, New York, NY 10011; 212-647-6900. circle 331
Featuring a bold pattern that doesn't sacrifice refinement, Winfield Design's Leafage makes a sophisticated statement for walls. The metallic foil ground has a silken texture. 1200 Arthur Avenue, Elk Grove, IL 60007; 800-621-4006; winfielddesign.com. circle 332