First and foremost, let’s address the shivering elephant in the room; it’s not spring. And if you, like me, were feeling hopeful for green-tipped crocuses and the sound of songbirds, then I implore you not to take the city’s cruel and snowy reminder of a lingering winter too personally. Instead of focusing on still-frozen precipitation, I’m looking forward to the upcoming bouquet making event with Flat Vernacular in celebration of their newly launched floral collection, Wilds.
I plan to center my bouquet on the kitchen table in an act of defiance against temperatures in the teens. As Wilds was inspired by resilient flower species, it feels fitting that I’m turning to these blossoms for a cheerful reminder that warmer sunshine is just around the corner.
Fort Standard‘s founder and designer Gregory Buntain has long centered his collection of beautifully utilitarian furniture on the dining table. The instantly recognizable Column Dining collection consists of elemental and substantial cylindrical pillar legs and a variety of shaped table tops, honed from marble or crafted out of solid wood.
More recently, Buntain has considerably broadened his Red Hook-based studio’s offerings by introducing the Strata Collection, a minimalist grouping of furniture pieces incorporating machined metal components. Launched at ICFF 2018, the Strata Credenza became a collection mainstay, growing to include side tables, coffee tables, and shelving units. Its modular system allows for a wide range of formats with endless material and finish combinations.
We’ve found that a Fort Standard collection launch is an industry-wide event, with all eyes on Buntain and his studio for design inspiration. Don’t miss his next move: a brand new dining collection to debut at Colony in early May. Stay tuned here for more information on the forthcoming exhibition.
In my four years working at Colony, I’ve moved four times – which means I’ve become quite familiar with my material objects and their respective dimensions as I’ve fit them into the back of various moving vans, up countless sets of stairs, and around tight corners. Each packing period has become an exercise in self-editing and assessing my things for how often and how well I use them. I’ve let enough pieces go curbside to feel protective over those that have stuck with me and adversely towards the idea of further thoughtless consumption.
My surviving pieces have been, for the most part, a largely sentimental mix of family heirlooms and cherished thrift store finds. That is with the exception of my prized possession – my half moon chair from Vonnegut/Kraft lacquered in a sunset peach, which I’ve ubiquitously dubbed “pink”.
The chair was a generous gift from Jean following my first holiday season at Colony, tempered by her early December question, “If I buy you that chair, will you stop gushing about it already??” Thinking this a joke, I said yes only to find myself bringing the chair home come Christmas.
Having had this piece four times as long as any home in the last decade has made me rethink the concept of what home is to me. As a transplant from New England, I’ve had this query before but never landed upon the concept that my experiences with personal objects have become greater than the sum of those in each transitory home.
The chair is a living memory of all the actions and reactions it has participated in since we’ve come to know each other so intimately. I’ve written poems in this chair, paid bills in this chair, drunk boundless cups of coffee with my legs crossed and draped in my Nana’s silk robe – a mix of minty green and bright oranges that dance against the pink finish. I’ve set my Christmas “tree” atop the seat and strung the whole thing with fairy lights.
Most often serving steadfastly as a desk chair, the piece has also functioned as an entry “bench” and bedside “table” when tight spaces have demanded versatility. The poppy pink joinery currently brightens up my living room while providing an extra seat; whereas, I’ve relegated stacks of books and windowsills to act in the less honorable stead of side table.
Of all these memories, what I’ve truly lost track of is the amount of times I’ve woken up to find my cat, Loofah, perched on the chair sunning himself. It’s his favorite seat in the house.
All the houses.
It was 2016. New to the design industry, I stepped into the unassuming second-floor loft space occupied by Colony. With my then-colleague, we passed through this ethereal landscape.
Rosy pink cascaded from the white brick onto the floor, an orbed color block of paint trailing its bright color between surfaces. A sea of stark white platforms and plinths held aloft some of the finest furniture: things round and plush, with airs of buoyancy; others trim and angular, comfortably spartan. Textiles dripped from the ceilings, hanging lethargic and beautiful, softening the light that flooded through a trio of huge windows.
A small pixie with a blooming head of platinum blonde hair threw her arms up, star-shaped, in welcome.
Jean Lin, Colony founder and pixie, spread massive, tufted pillows out on the floor for our Tribeca Design District meeting. I took note of the set-up: this was no conference room, no mahogany table. And for that, it felt like home.
Jean and I continued to cross paths through the design industry over the years while I worked at a neighboring design studio: to collaborate on social media campaigns, to coordinate neighborhood-wide events, to revel in the work and in the play of design week.
Later, when I left that job, floundering and unsure, she took me under her wing. She grew me and gave me space to grow myself. She has become more than just a pixie woman, to me; she has become more than just her recognizable name, her hair, her business.
She has become an employer, a mentor, and, perhaps most importantly, a close friend. She still throws her arms up, star-shaped, for me and for other guests of Colony. She still spreads the massive, tufted showroom pillows out on the floor for our meetings.
The integrity of the space and the business she’s grown trickles into the integrity of the relationships she builds from it and out of it. I serve as evidence of this. Built from devotion to the design industry, devotion to the designers themselves; built from a love for this gallery and its orbit of industry peers and those mammoth, cozy Colony pillows…
Colony felt like home from the start, and it has manifested as a true professional homestead. I plan on staying put; under Jean’s wing, in her home of design, and comfortably on her floor pillows.
-Emily R. Pellerin
Austin is my hometown. It’s where my heart is — in its captive bends of the Colorado river, its modern-southwest architecture, the straw-colored waves of its undulating hillsides. The Austin design scene, though, is new to me. Visiting from NYC (my adoptive home) earlier this month for Coast to Coast, I discovered a design rootedness on the East Side, some old-school mastery out to the west, and some migrated talent beyond the city limits.
The Austin design story spoke of unexpected cooperation with the City, from building benches along the lake to recycling fallen and burnt wood. And it spoke to age-old engagement with the natural limestone produced all over and underground, used for the Texas State Capitol downtown, a civic icon and light, bright sunset foregrounder.
Austin is not shy about getting involved. It’s a city whose webs of creativity overlap and invest in each other, whose professionally and personally selfless networks are ambitious, yet boast a dose of the nonchalant. Where work-life balance seems to exist healthily, where beautiful work is made and beautiful community is forged.
Even when we moved beyond the city limits, studios showed us that, though they may have taken their kiln or their mill out of Austin, you can’t take that Austin spirit out of their process, their projects, their product, their persons.
The city is part of their story. And its design industry, in its laid-back selflessness, makes for a grand, true part of Austin’s own honky tonk tall tale.
-Emily R. Pellerin
I often find myself exhausted by the time late January rolls around. The holiday craze and winter chill has had time to take it’s toll, and I’m ready to spend my weekends reading in bed. The excitement of last Thursday’s launch of The Conception Series with Controlled Landscapes by Molly Haynes may have something to do with my craving for down time as well. By devoting lazy mornings to my reading list this winter, I hope to build up an inspired source of energy for what is sure to be a busy Spring in design.
I’ve just finished Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking which has proved to be a tough one to follow up – so, so beautiful. In case you’re looking for inspiration as well, here are the titles sitting at the top of my windowsill to-read stack: What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver, Devotion by Patti Smith, and The Final Voicemails: Poems by Max Ritvo.