TrendScope: Renee Labbe, VP Global Trends
Besides a woman’s right to an unsupervised footwear addiction, I have a penchant for reading business books (Mr. Gladwell, you had me at Blink), a love of men’s watches and one truly super-sized design obsession that overwhelms me on a nearly constant basis.
The culprit is modern furniture design, which I pour over incessantly every chance I get. I’ve dreamt about beautiful spaces full of beautiful objects for as long as I can remember. At around 10 years of age I started collecting little shrubs and stones from our backyard to use as landscaping around the Popsicle stick homes I built. I improvised furniture out of my mother’s makeup boxes and anything else I could find. The fall fashion catalogues made great platform beds for my Working Woman Barbie, who I completely disregarded unless there were enough clean facecloths in the linen closet from which to make her coordinated duvet and curtain sets. I played my ‘house’ properly or I didn’t play at all.
Today’s uber-extraordinary masters – in my opinion the likes of Fredrikson Stallard, Marcel Wanders and Jaime Hayon – fearlessly improvise the very fundamentals of furnishings. They forced me to think about form vs. function in ways I wish I had anticipated back at the Popsicle ranch. Through their impact and that of countless other designers, my taste has become more and more selective, subtlety and cleverness rank high with me now. And even though tracking design trends is clearly a big part of my day-to-day role, hitting the divine furniture blogs and websites I have come to know and stalk (hello, MoCoLoco) is my equivalent of someone surfing YouTube on company time. I sometimes have to remind myself it’s not just a guilty pleasure.
I have so many favorites it’s hard to narrow it down to a Best 50 list, let alone a Best Five or 10, but my # 1 is irrevocably the Zeppelin chandelier from Wanders (2005). If you’ve never touched it, I implore you. It feels like skin. I love that its cocoon-like cloak of resin makes it minimal yet ornate, eerie yet elegant, serene yet damn sexy.
When I die, I would quite possibly like to come back as Litracon’s™ revolutionary light-transmitting concrete. Embedded with optical fibers, these pre-cast blocks are semi-translucent yet stronger than glass. A veritable wall and window in one, the hide-and-reveal aspect of this invention is so outstanding that it breaks my heart a little.
I once drove through France, exploring castles from Chantilly to Chenonceau, and I fell in love with the fireplaces that seemed to be in every single room of every single palatial structure. I think in today’s world this would be the most ultimate of luxuries. That’s probably why the first time I ever laid eyes on EcoSmart Fire’s™ flueless fireplace, I actually gasped so loud my husband came running. When I finally have one of my very own, I will merrily wheel it from dinner table to bubble bath and back again.
I’m not a big fan of prints and patterns. I much prefer engaging imagery, like an Annie Leibovitz editorial or a Richard Avedon portrait. The Electric rug from HZL by Henzel, one of many amazing pieces from the brand, is abstract enough to look like random color play from a distance, yet alluring enough to hold your attention.
A more recent design that also became a fast favorite of mine is the Flat Table by the Japanese design and architectural firm, Schemata. The fluorescent pink epoxy resin is unevenly dispersed across the antique table top. I think it’s an absolutely brilliant “Now and Then” piece – that’s how I refer to classic-looking pieces altered for modern-day relevancy. I see this in a traditional French apartment, paired with simplistic, stark white chairs for a contrasting effect, like Eero Saarinen’s 1956 Tulip chair, perhaps set against a background with textiles in soft pale grays.
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