Best of CH 2017: Interviews

A year's worth of discussions with individuals who are imagining our future

Throughout the year, conversations with artists, designers, inventors and more help to fuel our editorial impulses. It is from dialogue that we gain insight and understanding. And, fortunately, we’ve had access to plenty of extraordinary minds this year. From jewelry designers to those imagining the future of automotive and ceramic, we’ve learned about the processes behind invention and innovation. Through songwriters and marijuana entrepreneurs, we’ve gained an understanding of touching consumers and appealing to their interests. Together, we’ve explored the concept of the black dandy and dug through the history of Herman Miller’s archives. And this represents just a handful. Interviews are a necessary part of Cool Hunting, and the following selections demonstrate exactly why.

Shantrelle P Lewis on “Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style”

Defying stereotypes about masculinity while embracing rebellion and individuality, the black dandy embodies much more than a well-tailored suit. Curator, researcher and author Shantrelle P Lewis‘ gorgeous book “Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style” celebrates and explores the cultural components of black dandyism throughout the world. From well known artists like Jidenna and Janelle Monae, to tailors and designers, the book features members of the movement along with plenty of images of their incredible outfits—lots of lively patterns, bright colors, and clashing motifs. Lewis also explains how important the movement is socio-politically—while it’s playful, it’s also a significant act of dissent. The suit does not make the man, and we spoke with Lewis to find out more about the important, long-lasting phenomenon of black dandyism.

Daniel Arsham on His Multi-Faceted Collaboration with adidas Originals

About two minutes into the first segment of Daniel Arsham’s trilogy, “Hourglass,” we see a brief shot of a TV screen showing the colorful swirl of a hurricane barreling toward Miami—an image that has been burned in to my head since seeing it first-hand in my own Miami home in 1992. Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida that August and was the most destructive storm in the state’s history. It changed every one of our lives, granted, in different ways. For Arsham, who was 12 at the time, the experience has played through to many aspects of his artwork and Hourglass begins to unpack that story as an artwork in its own right. Produced with adidas Originals, the film also happens to introduce their new sneaker collaboration, the New York Daniel Arsham, and hints at other pieces of a complex web of art and commerce to follow.

Couture Jewelry Designer Giampiero Bodino

Even before entering the full-floor grandeur of The Salon Art + Design at NYC’s Armory, guests of the design fair could set foot into a wooden jewelry box of a room populated with the works of Giampiero Bodino. Bodino’s namesake brand, a part of the Richemont family where he has been a creative director for decades, features precious metal and gemstone pieces crafted with the utmost imagination. Visibile is the passion and confidence one would expect from an Italian jewelry designer, but there’s also an elegant whimsy pervading the handmade works. Chokers glow proudly, a bracelet mimics the patterns of a coral reef, watches unlike any other tick away—encrusted in ethically sourced wonders. Every stone looks as if its heart is an LED, and yet there’s no such modification. The electric energy of Bodino’s one-of-a-kind masterpieces stem from nature itself. During The Salon, we spoke with Bodino in an attempt to grasp his process. With fervor, he guided us through some of his pieces, as well.

Amy Auscherman on the Herman Miller Archive

On a recent visit to Herman Miller‘s headquarters we explored their impressive corporate archive. There we found many expected things like correspondence, old catalogs, sketches, swatches and rare pieces of furniture, along with unexpected treasures like shop floor-made templates for cutting wood pieces of modernist masterpieces and the negatives for the Eames‘ seminal 1977 film “Powers of Ten and the Relative Size of the Universe.” The archive of course plays a significant role in discovering, managing and sharing the company’s past, but it’s also used as a navigational tool in charting the company’s future. The archive owes a great deal to those who have tended to it in the past, but it’s currently helmed by energetic archivist, Amy Auscherman. We were fortunate to spend a few hours with her, combing through well-documented treasures and discovering some lesser-known gems. Visiting the private space is a treat for any design nerd. But exploring it with Auscherman—discussing the archive, her role and how today’s digital culture brings new challenges and opportunities—is even more exciting.

Tung Chiang, Head of Heath Clay Studio

Heath Ceramics‘ Design Series has traversed many themes and forms—from experimenting with glazes to crafting an entire series of candleholders. The series essentially explores the possibilities of clay, and the latest debut is the studio’s most personal yet. The delightful hand-formed ceramic animals of “Design Series 5” aren’t just crafted tenderly, each has its own backstory. Experimenting with textures and patterns, Studio Head Tung Chiang combined his love of drawing and pottery for the project, and the result is a departure from Heath’s regular programming. To better understand, we spoke with Chiang about inspiration, process surprises, and digging deep.

Songwriter, Producer + Multi-Instrumentalist Dan Wilson

It’s impossible to weave the accomplishments of Dan Wilson into a simple introduction. But his album Re-Covered offers a nice snapshot of the sonic landscape. Wilson might not be a household name, but the works he’s delivered as a singer, songwriter, band member and producer have been playing in homes across the globe since 1998. As co-founder, co-songwriter and vocalist of Semisonic, Wilson offered the world “Closing Time,” a critical and commercial success. For it, he received a Grammy nomination. He’d go ahead and win two Grammies later. One came for Album of the Year, as one of the producers of Adele’s 21, for which he co-wrote “Someone Like You.” Another came for his work on the Dixie Chick’s track “Not Ready to Make Nice,” which took home Song of the Year. More importantly, it reinforced a strong, resonant statement from a band that was at that time at odds with some of its listeners.

Kevin Hunter, President of Toyota’s Calty Design Research

For the last decade Kevin Hunter has been the president of Calty—Toyota’s design research center in Newport Beach—but he’s worked there for nearly 35 years. When Calty opened its doors in 1973, it was the first Southern California-based design center for any major auto manufacturer and the beginning of a deeper recognition that the California market is both important and distinctive. Calty employs 100 designers that work on future concepts and production vehicles, with fame ranging from the original Toyota Celica to the more recent Lexus LF-LC concept. After a rare visit inside Calty, we sat down with Hunter to learn more about his background, his approach to design and his perspective on the future of automotive.

Samantha Miller, Chief Science Officer at hmbldt

Launched last year, hmbldt is a medical cannabis brand that marries design and data to help consumers make controlled, informed decisions about their usage. Their “dose pen” vibrates when it delivers a precise volume of scientifically crafted vapor. Packaging, (along with the pen and the branding) designed by Anomaly, is crisp, tasteful and accessible. It includes specific information not only about the THC and CBD profiles but also the accessory cannabinoids that make up the formulation. Currently there are four blends which we have tested and wholeheartedly endorse. They’re named for their functions: Bliss, Relief, Calm and Sleep, and for Valentine’s Day they’ve added two more—Arouse and Passion. Fascinated by the depth of science that has come to historically loose and unpredictable territory, we spoke to one of hmbldt’s founders, and the Chief Science Officer, Samantha Miller to learn more about her work as a biochemist and how she married her corporate scientific background with her cannabian roots.

“Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style” image courtesy of Aperture, sneaker images courtesy of Daniel Arsham and adidas Originals, Giampiero Bodino image courtesy of BFA, Herman Miller image by Evan Orensten, Dan Wilson image by Noah Lamberth, Kevin Hunter image courtesy of Calty, hmbldt lifestyle image courtesy of hmbldt