With the rise of mechanization in the design world, traditional crafted object are becoming relics of a relinquished handcrafted past. Despite this, Los Angeles based furniture/jewelry designer Tanya Aguiñiga dedicated herself to designing, hand dyeing, hand sewing, and hand crafting creating furniture that responds to the user’s spatial needs. Such practices result in a playful and organic modernist approach to form.
Tanya’s work is informed by border experiences: the interconnectedness of societies, the beauty in struggle and the celebration of culture. Her understanding of the dynamics of life results from a childhood spent traveling between her country of birth, the United States, and Tijuana, Mexico, the place of her upbringing. She uses furniture as ways to translate emotions into a three dimensional objects and tell stories trough color and touch. Her work encourages users to reconsider the objects they use on a daily basis by creating work that explores an objects’ unseen aspect, such as half chairs that rely on the wall to function and whose image is only complete as its shadow is cast upon the wall.
Tanya has also dedicated much of her time to using art as a vehicle for community empowerment. While studying design at San Diego State University, she began working as an educator at the San Diego Museum of Art and created collaborative installations with the Border Arts Workshop BAW/TAF, a bi-national artists’ group that engages the languages of activism and community-based public art. Through BAW/TAF she helped to build and run a community center in an impoverished area of Tijuana built on trash from the US. For the 6 years she worked there, she focused on bringing national and international attention to the community’s plight through arts only based programs.
After earning an MFA in furniture design from Rhode Island School of Design in 2005, Aguiñiga settled in Los Angeles where she continues to designs and hand makes all of her work. Still focused on her community outreach efforts, Tanya hopes to deepen her commitment to ethical design by working with traditional artisans to connect local craft traditions with a global economy. With such valiant achievements in the design world, international accolades were bound to follow.
Tanya has been an artist in residence at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts and The Native Art Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her work has been exhibited from Mexico City to Milan and she was recently named a United States Artists Target Fellow in the field of Crafts and Traditional Arts. Further, Tanya has been included in major international publications such as Wallpaper magazine, “Pure Design, Objects of Desire” published by Monsa Editions in Spain, and has even made the cover of American Craft magazine.
Oakland based MRCW can best be described by its two elemental factors: master builder meets fervent designer. Christopher Weiss, the master builder, has an educational upbringing that spans the globe; including UC Berkeley, the Architecture Association in London, The Royal Technical School of Architecture in Stockholm and The Art Academy in Berlin. After graduating, Weiss was able to demonstrate his woodworking skills when he apprenticed under Paul Discoe, founder of Joinery Structures. His woodworking prowess was immediately evident as he was assigned the job of lead carpenter and project manager for a private residence in Woodside, CA inspired b y the 17th century Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto.
Monica Reskala, the fervent designer, has a diverse and varied design background. Reskala’s story begins in her hometown of Mexico City where she earned a degree in graphic design from Autonomous Metropolitan University. The school curriculum, which was anything but conventional, allowed Reskala to study other disciplines including architecture, urban design, industrial design as well as the broader disciples philosophy and critical theory. Reskala then used her passion of art and design to open her own studio. It was at the studio that she would often collaborate with now husband Christopher Weiss. The two eventually decided to pool both of their talents and founded MRCW in 2002.
From the beginning, the MRCW’s mission was evident; “encourage the most important and valuable concept, sustainability.” To achieve this, MRCW distains from a “scrap and build” mentality and instead pride themselves on using the honest craftsmanship and building materials that test the passage of time.
MRCW puts this theory in practice by fusing Reskala’s contemporary design sensibility with Weiss’ traditional Japanese woodworking techniques. While the use of traditional Japanese woodworking techniques is paramount to MRCW’s iconic works, it is not the only factor. The collaborative approach found in Japanese architecture both past and present play a crucial role in every MRCW piece. The collaborative approach abandons the notion of a fixed beginning and end in the design and craft stages but instead favors an ever-changing and flexible process that allows for change, regardless of how far along the piece has evolved. By using this method, MRCW can counteract any variables whether they be naturally derived from the materials themselves or intellectually based from Reskala or Weiss.
As MRCW continues to evolve so too do the materials and processes used in crafting their furniture. Recently MRCW has introduced the Xochitl collection, a flower-shaped aluminum table and stool set available in five colors. While the material choice has changed, MRCW’s attention to detail and meticulous craftsmanship is alive and well.
The RS Barcelona story, which is paramount to the company’s ethos, is still being written. The company began humbly enough when founder Rafael Rodríguez Castillo decided to take the talents he had perfected while working as an old-style grafter, and start his own business in Viladecans, Barcelona. Eventually the company had grown to a point where it could become a family endeavor and Castillo’s two sons joined the business.
The newly formed family company did not fully come into its own until the launch of the their first ‘own-brand’ product: the RS#2, a metal football table. Immediately, the company’s quirky, fun and intriguingly iconic style was born accompanied by the philosophy that design is a one-way ticket to a world that remains unexplored.
With the release of their own designs came international notoriety and accolade from shop windows to traditional media attention. While many companies would objectionably parade their successes then fade into obscurity, RS Barcelona’s intrinsic humility guided them to be excited by every little success while still having the right to daydream about the next venture.
Always ones to explore new possibilities, the folks at RS Barcelona teamed up with the creative team of Stone Designs to produce a good share of their designs. The experience has allowed the RS team to see design from a different angle. Inspired by the process, RS Barcelona continues to shake hands with young designers to seek ideas and innovative concepts for furniture and objects.
While the RS Barcelona story is not finished, it is undoubtedly still being written with every new design and innovation, such as Ella – the first ever Foosball table with all female players. Although the next chapter in RS Barcelona story is unknown, it will certainly fall under the guise of the optimistic, imaginative and passionate approach to design Rafael Rodríguez Castillo has carried since his humble days as a metallurgist.
Ford&Ching is thrilled to announce that Scale 1:1 has arrived at the KimSing Theatre. Scale 1:1, founded by company President Clara Reis, is committed to the production and marketing of compelling and creative furniture and lighting products. Their unique designs are playful, innovative and have been utilized to create dynamic and remarkable furniture.
Creative Director David Winston, pictured below, heads product design. He previously founded Cleanroom Inc., a bi-coastal design firm that specializes in architectural design, branded environments, and custom furniture. David is distinguished for designing the attention catching Museum of Sex on Fifth Avenue in New York. In 2008 he gained notoriety for wrapping the Hell’s Kitchen Tetris Building, changing the area into a progressive neighborhood and warping the traditional view of Hell’s Kitchen. Under his watch Cleanroom has also completed major branded environments including: Voss Water, the Volcom flagship store, L’uomo Vogue Magazine, and Atrium Apparel in New York and Miami.
For Scale 1:1, David has put together a team of architects, designers and leaders in branded architectural environments to pioneer a new way of combining utility with art and design. Under the supervision of Clara and David, Scale 1:1 has achieved great success and accolades with the Supernova “huggable” light, really-you can give it a squeeze, and the Floppy table, which oddly you can just give it a flop.
“Scale 1:1 is an amazing brand with fantastic products.” says Clara. “Our innovative approach is very refreshing and I’m extremely excited by the direction we are heading.”
Tanya is a furniture designer/maker looking to start a brand new artist collaborative, Artists Helping Artisans (AHA), which focuses on helping artisans in marginalized communities whose craft traditions or livelihoods are at risk. With the current economic crisis, and tourism dwindling, many of these craft communities are in dire need of help.
A large scale exhibition of Tanya’s work is scheduled for Sept 2010 at MACLA, Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latinoamericana, in San Jose during the Zero1 Biennial. MACLA has created an opportunity to use the exhibition to showcase (and kickstart) collaborative works with artisans—and for the first time in Tanya’s art career, allowed her to become a catalyst for social change through the creation of craft.
Tanya is looking to raise $7,000 to begin the project which will help cover the costs of:
· Plane tickets for Tanya and a documentarian/assistant
· Shared hotel accommodations for 1 month
· Stipend for artisans involved in workshops
· Per diem for myself and a documentarian/assistant
· Materials for creation of collaborative pieces
· Car rental for 1 month
· Shipping of works from Mexico to US
To read more about this project and to offer your support, follow this LINK.
Greg Bergere heads up Go BUILD STUDIO, a contemporary furniture company founded in 1998 and based in San Francisco. The eclectic collection celebrates simple and useful design with the varied influences of plain Shakers, mid-century moderns, and high-low cosmopolitans.
Greg’s headed down to Los Angeles to debut the new Wavelength Series and the newly redesigned Zebra Series on March 6 at the FORD&CHING showroom. The Wavelength Series is a seating group inspired by the motion of waves and the movement of shorebird legs. The basic form is designed to cradle the derriere on a simple repeatable shape. Each piece features tightly upholstered seating with thin padding, and may be ordered in Walnut, Oak, Maple, Espresso, and with or without Ebonized legs and trim.
The Zebra Series of casegoods features highly graphic Zebrawood (a sustainable veneer product made of plantation-raised Poplar) framed by dark Oak, and sophisticated touches like bronzed pulls, and dovetailed drawers.
“Rub the belly…” were some of the first words spoken to me by Andy Riiska when we first met. I obediently rubbed the underside of his belly table and what a delight. The sensation took me back to Junior High. It was like corduroy, but it was wood. The underside of the belly table, which resembles the ceiling of a cathedral, is carved by a CNC, while the legs are carved and mortised through the top by hand. The CNC creates grooves as it carves out the shape which give it a unique tactile quality.
Andrew Riiska – Who is that masked man? When you uncover the mask, you find a good-humored, multi-faceted man. By day — he’s debonair while coffee drinking and cream puff eating. By afternoon, he might be found at Sci-Arc’s wood-shop teaching kids how to keep their fingers out of the chop-saw.
The many faces of Andrew Riiska
If anything can be said about Andrew’s designs, it’s that they’re evocative and that they have to be seen (and often touched) to fully appreciate them. He craftily blends old world woodworking techniques with modern to create his responsibly produced designs. He uses only re-purposed materials and takes great care in creating beautiful objects out of what some would call trash. The Dragon Table plays with scale and texture. It’s two separate 7′ tables with a continuous bubble pattern underneath and his signature crosses on the top. It’s a stunning 14′ piece of sculpture.
Crosses used to reinforce stressed areas of wood
Marshmallow boxes were a hit giveaway at the 2009 Dwell on Design event in Los Angeles last June. Each box carved out of scrap Douglas Fir to create a toasty home for your marshmallow.
Marshmallow box bottoms
Marshmallow box lids
Ford&Ching laser branded marshmallows
While function isn’t necessarily a prerequisite with his designs, Andrew also makes some extremely useful pieces as well.
Four legs wasn’t enough, so Andy pushed the limits and literally pushed sixty-nine maple legs through the Douglas Fir top. The leg pattern inspired by the visual you get as you drive by a field of corn.
69 Leg Table
Andrew’s working on new pieces to be launched shortly, so stay tuned.
William Rollins and Brendan Sowersby started 100XBETTER knowing they could do better (maybe even one-hundred times) than what was available at big box stores like IKEA. That Ready-to-Assemble (RTA) had to be cheap and disposable did not wash with them, so in 1999, they launched a design-build company with roots in fine art and cabinetmaking. Their core idea was to take RTA to its most elegant iteration with improved materials, workmanship, and basic design. The partners consider the name their mission statement.
FORD&CHING launched 100XBETTER at our Holiday Party and the crowds warmed to the seating.
Three on a Two Seater
Mario from Kartell (Diva) and Vanessa (formerly from Twentieth) test drive the merchandise
New designer Charlie Ferrer (right) of MEIER/FERRER on the full size couch enjoying the limited edition red herrigbone fabric
After toiling with IKEA products (sometimes completely destroying it during the assembly process and discreetly hiding it in the trash…you know what I’m talking about) for the better part of ten years, I was concerned 100XBETTER would fall short of my expectations. However, once it was unpacked and easily assembled, I was relieved and impressed to see a level of workmanship and durability not available from the Swedish powerhouse. Not even close. The DB_CHAIR pictured above (with leather) and below (with red upholstery) was the first item tested. It arrived flat packed and assembles into a low-profile contemporary classic that’s equally at home in a mod house or a hotel lobby. Perfect for those on the run, it comes in six wood finishes (made of Europly), five fabric options, and leather. It was very easy to put together (see related story about the chair elsewhere) and will retain its functionality no matter how many times you pull it apart and put it back together. And it’s very affordable.
I spoke with Will and Brendan and reluctantly asked them to describe their design philosophy. Okay, I set a trap. I usually drift off right after I ask these sorts of questions. I go to my happy place. What’s for dinner or how much beer and beef jerky it will take before I feel part of the human race…Not because design is boring, but because designers are boring. They go on an on about incomprehensible ideas that intertwine this and that and it all comes out crazy to a layman like myself. And I’m talking about the smart, articulate, and talented designers! I was very relieved when Will and Brendan proved down-to-earth and easy to understand. Their basic philosophy is to reduce the amount of time devoted to fabrication while still making things that are beautiful and high quality. Their “design-first” mentality eliminates much of the finish work that requires endless hours in the shop, freeing them to design better products at affordable prices. These results are surprising given neither went to design school. Will is a family man who went to Cooper Union in New York and finished with a BFA degree. Likewise, Brendan received a BA in fine art at UMASS, Dartmouth and a MFA from CalArts. Go figure.
So how could two art students possibly consider design and manufacturing before aesthetics? It seems backward. They don’t really see it that way, instead believing their art background has led them to creative solutions overlooked by the traditional design-build world.
100XBETTER produces other household items, inlcuding lighting and screens/room dividers. The lighting below is made from a single piece of Corian that is milled, thermo-formed in an oven, and fitted with high-grade electronics. Like the furniture, the end result is affordable and beautiful.
The room dividers below illustrate 100XBETTER‘s fine attention to detail.
Elegant solutions from 100XBETTER
Custom designs can be specified and length and width can be modified to suit your needs.
Finish work and hardware are top grade.
Devil is in the details
100XBETTER is available to see at FORD&CHING during our public hours on Wednesday (11am-6pm) and Saturday (11am-4pm) as well as by appointment. Don’t be scared when you hear Bear bark. Just hit the bell and soak it in.
It was a Friday, so Jacob lets the staff cut our early (nice). After my tour we headed for a beer at the local Wooden Nickel Pub. We thought we’d stop there for a quick one before heading back to his house where Kate was waiting. Jacob wisely thought to revise the plan to have Kate meet us there since we didn’t want anyone getting the wrong idea. They had a good selection of beers on tap and bottled. I think I had a Stone IPA.
We then drove to the house that Jacob designed and built which was an architectural testament to the clean lines and thoughtful use of materials exemplified in his furniture. It was straightforward, and it was beautiful. Everything from the kitchen which opened up into the dining and living area, to the fantastic organic vegetable garden, to the fire-pit that looked like it could double as a grave (maybe for less gracious guests?)
While we were outside, I got to see another “pet,” their resident weaver spider or Argiope aurantia. Have you ever seen one of these? Apparently it had been there for a few months already and didn’t look like it was leaving any time soon.
It turns out that Jacob’s also quite skilled in the kitchen. He prepared peppery pork chops which were quite tasty, AND some home baked bread. Apparently bread baking is a fairly regular if not daily occurrence there. The bread was really good. It had a nice firm, crispy crust and soft center. I bugged Jacob for his recipe and apparently it’s based off of a baguette recipe from epicurious.com. He did offer the following suggestions:
“…it’s both the best and the easiest baguette recipe we’ve done to date. I’ve tried several others and this one beats them all. A few things: try to use a little flour as possible–if you can keep it at or under 4 cups total, including what you use to knead, it’ll be better. Also, the longer you let it rise, the better. If you can put it together the night before, that would be best. Make sure you get the water temp just right for proofing the yeast. if you can, spray the bread with a little water right before you bake it and then 1-2 minutes after you put it in the oven. and spray the walls of the oven too.”
So while you’re contemplating your next Skram piece you might want to try the recipe and chew on some great bread.
Sam Moyer’s the best dressed furniture maker I know, but don’t let it fool you. He’s comfortable and down-to-earth in his designer denims, while making easy work of sawing, chiseling, shaving and sanding his one-of-a kind pieces. Lots of folks work with live-edges, but not everyone does it as craftily. Pick up one of his stools or look at the backside of a casegood. The attention to detail is almost over-done, but Sam pulls it off — just like the jeans.
Seems like a shame to cover this one with a mattress.
There’s something for everyone.
Top of the Evening Sideboard
A great example of cabinetry and live-edge material combined.