MY MOM LOVED THE THRILL
OF CHASING PERFECTION.
A craftswoman who put as much effort into designing miniature replicas of classic houses as she put into transforming old furniture finds into new masterpieces, she often said that anything worth having was worth the elbow grease it would take to make it shine. To her, creating was never about “good enough.” It was about leaning into the rough spots, problem-solving, and emerging with a meaningful result.
At GRAY, we’re big fans of this approach. Whether it’s revealed in a stylish interior
or in the subtle details of fine craftsmanship that stop us in our tracks, it’s this integrity we see in the work that comes across our desks each day that keeps us in the game.
The global design community’s troubleshooting prowess was perhaps never better
on display than in 2020, in the face of the pandemic. We saw a rise to action among
creatives who designed ventilators and reworked airflow systems on airplanes. They
presented solutions for indoor dining, mocked up hazmat suits for concertgoers, and
even projected messages of love and support onto buildings.
our design community and we couldn’t be more thrilled to share the winners’ stories in our Masterworks Issue.
Be sure to visit our website, graymag.com, to read about the finalists, our editors’ picks, and to watch GRAY Awards 2020: The Movie!. A digital celebration created in lieu of an in-person party, it features the winners’ reactions, judges’ comments, and a performance by the GRAY Band of designers.
Thank you to everyone who entered, sponsored, partnered, or volunteered, and congratulations to all!
RAY Awards is a call for design with a capital D. Where form meets func-
tion, and where design makes life better. I’m eager for you to see the high caliber of work showcased by this year’s winning entries (page 66). The pursuit of perfection seen in each entry is a characteristic that unites
Lastly, this issue marks the 9th birthday of GRAY, a magazine that would not be possible without the strong support of the design community, advertisers, sponsors who are truly wonderful partners, our subscribers, and incredibly talented and passionate staff and freelance team. I couldn’t be prouder of all that we have accomplished over the years, and look forward to many more to come.
Cheers to elbow grease, and cheers to
a Happy New Year!
E L E G A N T
Rooted in tradition, but thoroughly on point to the contemporary eye, a thoughtful use of form and space imbues this Tokyo residence with timeless distinction.
By Rachel Gallaher Photographed by Satoshi Shigeta
WORKING IN JAPAN FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS, GWENAEL NICOLAS, FOUNDER AND CHIEF DESIGNER OF TOKYO-BASED MULTIDISCIPLINARY DESIGN STUDIO CURIOSITY INC., HAS EXPERIENCED A CREATIVE FREEDOM DEEPLY-ROOTED IN THE TRADITIONAL JAPANESE AESTHETIC— a style he tapped into for a recent project in the city’s Minato ward. Recruited to design the interiors of a sales unit for the Opus Arisugawa residences, Nicolas crafted a space imbued with a luxurious simplicity that celebrates his belief that “space is merely a canvas for the choreography of life.”
Using a pared-down palette of oak, muted neutral colors, and minimal furnishings, Nicolas explored the idea of creating “selected views” throughout the home. “When you sit on a sofa or a chair, you see that an opening in the wall has been placed at the right height for you to see a tree- and stone-scape that you couldn’t see previously,” he
explains. The space is not designed with an overt sense of drama, but on the contrary, Nicolas says, “with a sense of humble preciousness in a constant path of discovery.” This concept is best illustrated by a 33-foot-long hallway that connects the home’s living and dining rooms with a private bedroom suite. The transition space—uplit on one side, with a wall of floor-to-ceiling mirrors lining the other side—ends with an antechamber, where a branchlike flower arrangement beckons from its perch on a low wooden bench.
The bedroom, which features a low platform bed and ceiling adorned with oak-wood slats, exudes a sense of warmth and tranquility, with a cream-toned wallcovering by Nuno and an upholstered reading nook adding to Nicolas’ “textured minimalism” aesthetic. A striking black-and- white screen made with Wajue’s washi paper opens to reveal a dressing area and closet; in the adjacent »
ABOVE: A cozy bedroom nook in one of Tokyo’s Opus Arisugawa residences, with interiors by Curiosity Inc. The tray is by Kei Nishimura, the cups are by Hosai Matsubayashi, and all were made specifically for this project. HERE: The long hallway separating the home’s public and private spaces is lined with floor-to-ceiling mirrors
on one side. Opposite them, door handles look
like small sculptures suspended on the wall
covered with white washi paper.
ABOVE: The centerpiece of the bedroom is a modest platform bed. Black-and-white sliding screens open to reveal a closet and dressing room. The low, dark-wood bench is from Conde House, and the round stool behind the screen is from furniture-maker Oliver. BELOW: Mirrored bathroom walls create the illusion that the dark ceramic vanity is twice its actual length. The water glasses are custom.
bathroom, walls of blond oak wood are punctuated by a weighty black ceramic vanity that, despite its heft, doesn’t overwhelm the room.
In the main living area, a large, custom square sofa (its shape reminiscent of a tatami room) creates a sitting area that brings people face-to-face, encouraging conversations and deeper connections. Art casually leans against the walls, and nonessential furniture is kept to a minimum.
Nicolas also proposed creating a series of everyday objects for the home, enlisting local artisans to craft items including tea sets, canisters, trays, and wine glasses. “To create a house or an apartment is a multilayer project that must involve all aspects of life,” he says. “All of the objects are based on a single shape, but made with different materials, from urushi (Japanese lacquer) to ceramic, metal mesh, wood, and copper.”
The unit is a space rooted in tradition, not trend. “The Japanese aesthetic is based on the constructive quality of the space, objects, and furniture, and not the decorativeness,” Nicolas explains. Even so, the residence feels modern in its embrace of form and simplicity. It’s a nod to both the past and present, and a livable space that will maintain its relevance for decades to come.
“IN THE CREATION PROCESS, THE NOTIONS OF TRADITION, MODERNITY, AND STYLE ARE NEVER MENTIONED. THE APPROACH IS ABOUT HOW TO REDEFINE THE LIFESTYLE FROM THE NEW IDEAS OF HOW THE DESIGN WILL EVOLVE, WHAT NEW FURNITURE OR OBJECTS WOULD BE NECESSARY TO DEVELOP, WHAT WOULD DISAPPEAR, AND WHAT SHOULD BE CREATED.”
—Gwenael Nicolas, Curiosity Inc.
IT'S TIME TO COZY UP FOR WINTER, AND WE'VE GOT YOU COVERED WITH A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE PIECES FOR YOUR HOME, OFFICE, AND HOME OFFICE.
By Lauren Mang
1. Hémicycle armchair, designed by Philippe Nigro for Ligne Roset in partnership with the Mobilier National, an organization—supervised by the French Ministry of Culture—that promotes French design. 2. Block sconce in Calacatta Viola marble, by Stahl + Band.
OBJECTS OF DESIRE
3. Chroma floor lamp by Arturo Erbsman for Roche Bobois. 4. Proto highback lounge by Nick Ross for Hightower. 5. The Fairfax chair in District Tobacco, by Kelly Wearstler. 6. The Le Refuge floor lamp by Marc Ange. 7. Le Club chair by Jean-Marie Massaud for Poliform. 8. *GRAY Awards 2020 finalist* Ribbed Desk by Kate Duncan.
1. To form the chandelier installation Herbarium from Lasvit, molten glass is poured over dried flora, creating imprints on the surface of each component. 2.*GRAY Awards finalist* Michelle Dirkse’s area rug collection, featuring collaborations with artists Noel Fountain, Corrie LaVelle, Jennifer Gauthier, and Dana Mooney (shown: Mirror Black). 3. Mora accent swivel chair by Room & Board Business Interiors, sized for smaller spaces. 4. Moooi’s BFF Sofa by Marcel Wanders Studio, available at Inform Interiors.
5. Black Tempal surface by Caesarstone. 6. White-oak side table, a collaboration between Lawson-Fenning and MQuan Studio. 7. Stackable Decade chair, Blu Dot’s first injection-molded plastic chair. 8. Split cabinet from Primary Objects’ Studio Group by Henrybuilt. 9.*GRAY Awards finalist* Oxbend chair by Fernweh Woodworking.
1. Neon Tube LED light by Hay. 2. Word table light by Dims. 3. *GRAY Awards finalist*Pandarine sofa designed by Inga Sempé for Hay. 4. The Two-Way side table by Élément de Base, available at MoMA Design Store. 5. Chair from L. Ercolani, available at Hive.
AND THE WINNERS ARE ...
GRAY AWARDS, OUR HIGHEST HONORS, IS THE INTERNATIONAL DESIGN COMPETITION TO WIN. AMONG HUNDREDS OF ENTRIES, ONLY ELEVEN RECEIVE THE PRESTIGIOUS DESIGNATION.
Here on our website, read about the finalists, editors’ picks, and trophy designer, the esteemed glass artist John Hogan, and watch GRAY Awards 2020: The Movie! featuring the designers’ reactions to winning, judges comments, and the GRAY Band of Designers performance.
THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS AND PARTNERS
The showstopping winners and celebrated judges of the GRAY Awards 2020.
As a nod to the region in which the magazine was founded, GRAY
presents the inaugural Legacy Award, a recognition to honor a respected
and influential member of the Pacific Northwest design community.
By Rachel Gallaher
ARCHITECT JIM OLSON’S WORK EXEMPLIFIES EVERYTHING PACIFIC NORTHWEST DESIGN IS KNOWN FOR: CREATIVITY, INNOVATION, SUSTAINABILITY, AND CRAFTSMANSHIP. Recognized
primarily for his work on residential
projects, Olson—a founding principal of Seattle design firm Olson Kundig and a Washington native—has spent more than 60 years honing his craft, shaping the aesthetic of Northwest regionalism, and influencing generations of architects in both style and approach.
“Our landscape in the Northwest is so beautiful that I feel that architecture should just weave into it and be a part of it rather than trying to stand out or stand alone,” he says. “Nature can look chaotic, and with architecture I like to try and hold
together and frame it from inside in a way that helps you focus on a specific view.”
Olson started his architecture career at the age of 18, when his father asked him to build a small sleeping cabin on land already occupied by the family’s summer house in Longbranch, Washington.
The project, which Olson still cites as one of the most important in his career, became an aesthetic touch- stone for his future work. In 1967, he founded Olson/Walker Architects, and although the partners (and the name) have changed over the years, the firm has stood solidly on its foundational principle of integrity in architecture and craftsmanship, expanding to become one of the most influential and award-winning design firms in the world.
Aside from nature, Olson is inspired by art, and is often tapped to design houses around impressive collections across the globe. In addition, he has worked on commercial projects including the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington,
the Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle, and the JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa in San José del Cabo, Mexico.
“I think that architecture is about living on the earth,” Olson says. “Birds have their nests, bees have their hives, and people have buildings. We need them to survive, and it’s important to hone that art of living. With every new project, I still get so excited to start. It’s energizing and invigorating. I’m always asking, ‘What are we going to come up with next?’” »
KYLE JOHNSON; KEVIN SCOTT/OLSON KUNDIG; AARON LEITZ; TIM BIES/OLSON KUNDIG
TOP: Architect Jim Olson, a founding partner of design studio Olson Kundig,has influenced the Pacific Northwest design aesthetic more than almost any other living architect in the region. ABOVE CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The Olson family cabin in Longbranch, Washington. Foss Waterway Seaport building in Tacoma, Washington. City Cabin in Seattle. The Lightcatcher building at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington. A young Jim Olson at the cabin in Longbranch.
“MY DAD TOLD ME WHEN
I WAS YOUNG THAT IF YOU
CAN MAKE A CAREER OUT
OF SOMETHING THAT YOU’D
LIKE TO HAVE AS A HOBBY,
THEN YOU’LL ALWAYS BE
HAPPY. I DON’T THINK I
REALIZED AT THE TIME HOW
IMPORTANT THAT WAS.”
—JIM OLSON, OLSON KUNDIG
Kirkland Museum of Fine and
Decorative Art in Denver.
Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Seattle.
BENT RENE SYNNEVAG
PERCHED ATOP THE ROCKY TERRAIN
OF FOGO ISLAND—located off the northeast coast of the Newfoundland and Labrador province of Canada— this concise, modern outbuilding (used for wood storage and as a dining space) is the newest addition to the Fogo Island Inn, a project that began in 2013. Designed by Todd Saunders of Norwegian design firm Saunders Architecture, the series of buildings was commissioned by Shorefast, a charity established in 2003 to revitalize Fogo Island’s economy. “Throughout this ongoing project, architectural inspiration has been drawn from the vernacular forms of the region’s traditional fisherman’s huts and houses,” Saunders Architecture writes in its submission. “Whether anchored to the land or set on stilts above the shoreline, the hut is a fundamental part of [the island’s heritage. The Fogo Island Shed
builds on this tradition.”
Designed and built in just six months, the shed takes a local archetype—the traditional pitched-
roof house—and pares back the form, using a combination of old and new materials and construction techniques to achieve a balanced geometric simplicity. The dining space is housed in a rectangular form that intersects with a covered entrance with a steep mono-pitched roof that flares open at each end, framing views of the island and the seascape. The shed’s lack of electricity, the firm writes, is “a deliberate throwback to a simpler age that has the effect of focusing the mind and increasing the awareness of the seasons, the light, and even the flavor of the food.” The space is lit instead by kerosene lamps, and food is cooked over a stove or open fire. Located just a
short walk from the main building
of the Fogo Island Inn, the shed
encourages guests to explore and
connect with the landscape, while
its striking angles and form prove
that high-caliber design can work
in the most remote locales.
Kingman Brewster and Dihua Wei
Fogo Island, Newfoundland
and Labrador, Canada
DATE OF COMPLETION
PRODUCT DESIGN: OTHER
DRAFT LEVEL—THE NEWEST PRODUCT FROM OREGON-BASED DESIGN STUDIO SELEK DESIGN— is a problem-solving tool that places form and function on equal footing. According to the firm’s entry, “the atelier focuses on designing everyday objects that are inspired by ordinary intuitive behaviors in daily lives. For Selek Design, a product should be as pure and
simple as water that does not leave any scent or taste behind. [Our] products aim to have a silent character that goes unnoticed.”
The Draft Level, which “provides guidance for a horizontal plane, is designed to fulfill this function in its most primitive form, using the gravity point of the object to find perfect balance,” Selek Design explains. Intended for basic leveling needs, such as hanging art frames or installing shelves, the instrument, made from two crossed bars
that can be aligned horizontally, looks much like an art object, its subtle, light-gold tone elevating it above typical hardware-store finds.
“Since the level is designed as a primitive tool,” Selek Design says of its creation, “it also tries to avoid complex manufacturing methods or variety of materials. With this, the product is aimed to be sustainable both during its production stage and
end of life cycle.”
DATE OF COMPLETION
By Amanda Zurita
AN AVID CONTEMPORARY ART
COLLECTOR with a background in high-end fashion design, interior architect and furniture designer Pierre Yovanovitch draws inspiration from all corners of the art world, imbuing his projects with details that range from the saturated hues of modernist paintings to the sweeping curves of Art Deco sculpture. But right now, it’s the opera (which has always been an inspiration) that’s really sparking his creativity—in particular, what’s going on in the background. “Set designers are capable of capturing the essence of a piece with a simple yet powerful décor,” he says.
A similar, quiet drama characterizes Yovanovitch’s work, which takes shape at the Paris atelier he founded in 2001 and at a New York City outpost that opened in 2018, and encompasses residential and commercial projects around the globe. “To me, good design is when the quality and craft of the design speaks for itself,” he says. “We strive for a level of skill and uncompromising attention to detail—which goes into creating every square centimeter of work—that is unparalleled. That’s a distinguishing factor that cannot easily be replicated.”
Often characterized as quintessentially French, Yovanovitch’s
“DON’T FOLLOW TRENDS. ABOVE ALL, IT’S ABOUT
INTEGRITY AS A DESIGNER. THAT’S WHAT MAKES YOU
STAND APART FROM THE REST AND, AT THE END OF THE
DAY, IS WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL FULFILLED.” —PIERRE YOVANOVITCH
elegant creations—including the Hôtel Le Coucou in the Swiss Alps, for which he designed 130 site-specific furniture and lighting pieces—feature a precise, intentional blend of historic foundations with contemporary elements and, often unexpectedly, injections of playfulness that impart a light, unpretentious quality.
Looking forward, Yovanovitch emphasizes the need for design that’s considerate of our environmental future. “The life span of design pieces is key,” he says, “particularly in the age of mass-production. As designers become more aware of how they are contributing to the climate crisis with pieces that are quick to end up in a landfill, it’s important that we focus on the longevity of our work and also keep in mind where we are sourcing materials.”
LUC BERTRAND; STEFANI MOSHAMMER; STEPHEN KENT JOHNSON
TOP, FROM LEFT: Yovanovitch designed the brightly colored boutique for Villa Noailles, an artscenter in the provincial commune of Hyères, France. Paris-based interior architect Pierre Yovanovitch. ABOVE: A vignette from LOVE, a 2020 exhibition featuring Pierre Yovanovitch’s work, at the R & Company design gallery in New York.
One more round of inspired design.
The two-story Balbek Bureau-designed
salon Say No Mo veers toward the
unexpected with a tonal color scheme
and tons of concrete, including this
poured-concrete reception desk.
“TOGETHER WITH THE
CLIENT, WE WANTED
TO SUGGEST ANOTHER
IMAGE OF BEAUTY THAT
IS ORIGINAL, NON-
PERFECT, AND TRULY
—SLAVA BALBEK, BALBEK BUREAU
A beauty salon in Kiev, Ukraine, eschews the traditional gendered salon aesthetic in favor of thick concrete, crudely welded metal, and a monotone palette accented with gold.
By Lauren Mang
Photographed by Yevhenii Avramenko
IN KIEV, UKRAINE, THE RECENTLY OPENED SALON SAY NO MO SAYS “NO” TO GENDERED DESIGN. The two-level space, imagined by Ukrainian architecture and interior design firm Balbek Bureau, instead veers toward the unexpected with a tonal color scheme and tons of concrete, including a formidable cast-in-situ archway in the entry area. A column clad with gold-hued, polished-stainless-steel panels (a material used on walls throughout the salon to
hide imperfections and aesthetically unite different treatment areas) bisects the opening, providing a bright contrast to a poured-concrete reception desk that resembles a stone block. All of the concrete elements sport a broken and chipped surface, which, according to the design team, represents the breaking of gender stereotypes in the beauty industry. “Beauty is most often associated with glamour,
gloss, and blush,” says Slava Balbek, lead architect and founder of Balbek Bureau. “Together with the client, we wanted to suggest another image of beauty that is original, non-perfect, and truly unique.”
The main floor’s black-metal-plated bar offers clients a spot to get a manicure or unwind with a cocktail (the salon pours everything from specialty drinks and bubbly to tea), and lends a raw, industrial look to the space with its prominent welded seams. The nearby pedicure zone is light and bright, with gold accents from details including a freestanding washbasin crafted from two Soviet-era baby bathtubs. During construction of the nail art area, the designers unearthed another basin and preserved it, filling the 6-and-a-half-foot-deep tub with blue-colored balls.
TOP: A chipped concrete archway symbolizes the breaking of gender stereotypes in the beauty industry.CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Sleek yet plush furnishings in the lounge area. The subterranean salon area features white walls and lots of mirrors, which give
the space a bright, airy feeling. Clients can belly up to the metal bar for a cocktail or manicure (or both).