Photographed by Hank Drew
On the back page of GRAY we spotlight people in the design world who have unexpected collections and tell the story of their attraction.
WHO: Laura Melling, Interior Stylist and Designer
SINCE WHEN: 2012
As told to Renske Werner
In 2012, I was honeymooning in Bali and fell for a beautiful handmade ikat blanket. That was the start of my obsession. I’d just fi nished my degree in textile design and was thrilled to be in a place where textile crafts are so interwoven into the culture. Every time I’ve traveled since then, I’ve explored local traditions—weaving, knitting, silk-screening—and I usually take home souvenirs. On a family road trip through Iceland, I found a perfect gray-black sheepskin; in a village near San José del Cabo, Mexico, I bought a gorgeous rug from a woman who wove in a hut, surrounded by her four children. Handmade textiles bring me back to special travels, but they’re also an essential part of any project I design. They’re both the starting point and the finishing touch because they have an amazing ability to draw you into a space.
See page in Issue no. 31
WHO: Michael Pratt, cofounder, Pratt & Larson Tile
OBSESSION: Arts and Crafts Pottery
SINCE WHEN: Early '80s
"My wife, Reta, and I started collecitng white Arts and Crafts pottery in the early '80s , around the time I transitioned from being a studio potter to a tile maker. We were drawn to its aesthetic—especially to curvilinear, fluted pieces with handles that seem to flow off them rather than lookign tacked on. These cessels are all about the strngth of their silhouettes: their ogee curves and their long, graceful straight lines. They continue to influence our tile designs, and we refer to them when we make fluted curves, shims, and architectural moldings. They reflect the notion that pervades our design outlook: Keep it focused; keep it simple." -Michael Pratt
See page in issue no. 30
WHO: Sallyann Corn and Joseph Kent, founders, Fruitsuper Design
OBSESSION: Wooden stacking toys
SINCE WHEN: 2011
“Over the years, without even realizing it, we started to collect wooden toy sets—especially sets focused on stacking and modularity that really encourage play, whimsy, construction, and flexibility and create a sense of nostalgia. These sets have become integral to our design process—we reference them often and play with them always. One of our favorite Charles and Ray Eames quotes is ‘Toys are not really as innocent as they look. Toys and games are the prelude to serious ideas.’" -Sallyann Corn
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: Croc Pile by Karl Zahn for Areaware, 2012; Penguins by MUJI, 2013; Wood Tangram Set by Sarah Loertscher, 2014; Der Baumeister by Franz-Joseph Holler, 1983; reissued 1992; Totem Blocks, 1973; Stackable Gnomes by Fruitsuper Design, 2013
See page in Issue no. 29
WHO: Peter Miller, owner, Peter Miller Books
OBSESSION: Food storage containers
SINCE WHEN: Mid-1990s, while on a trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair
“I’ve developed affection for certain food storage containers, and in every city I visit, I seek them out at design-minded sources—ABC Carpet & Home in New York has some 400 containers in its basement, and my daughter, who lives in Stockholm, brings me some every Christmas. Each little container has a million secrets—how its lid fits, how it stores, how it cleans, how it holds food. British containers are squared up and often look Deco or modern. The Swedes’ big concern is not to leak, and the price. The Finns play with colors and different handles. And no one makes extraordinary, thin, crystalline glass like the Japanese. Each one tells the story of what it was intended to do and what its designer’s hopes were.” -Peter Miller
COUNTRY ORIGIN, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Japan; France; Germany; United States; Finland; England.
See page in Issue no. 28
WHO: Laura Foxman, architect, We Are All Collage, Portland and State College, Pennsylvania
OBSESSION: 1980s-era Japanese novelty pencils
SINCE WHEN: Age 7, while growing up in Portland
“When my twin sister and I first discovered these pencils at Portland’s Sanrio store at around age 7, it was the shock of novelty and the joy within them that spoke to us. We were part of a Portland public school pilot program that taught calligraphy to elementary students: a rare instance when beauty was approached and discussed in the school setting. At the time, all our teachers were celebrating graphic design and aesthetics, influenced by the great Reed College professor Lloyd Reynolds—who taught Steve Jobs before he started Apple. Now, as an architect, I’m interested in information culture and how we share it. The Japanese often write about their aesthetic traditions with a sense that they are passing. Similarly, my book Pencils & a Pen [Publication Studio; November 2015], a photographic record of my collection, was born out of my sense of the loss of handwriting culture." -Laura Foxman
See page in Issue no. 27
Do you work in a creative field and have an unusual collection (or know someone who does)? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.