Behind the Scenes / 5 Questions with Heather Rosenman Ceramics

Heather Rosenman’s Leto Series displayed in her dining room   (image source  )

Heather Rosenman’s Leto Series displayed in her dining room (image source)

Heather Rosenman first appeared on our radar with her Leto series of ceramic works that stopped us in our tracks with their strong geometric forms, at once evoking both the ancient and modern. So when it came to planning our trip to Los Angeles in October, we immediately scheduled a visit to her studio in east LA. Heather was warm, gracious, and open, and we can’t wait to incorporate her stunning pieces into our interior design projects. Read on to learn more about Heather’s work and inspiration and view scenes from her studio.

Rosenman’s office where you can see evidence of her former life as a graphic designer

Rosenman’s office where you can see evidence of her former life as a graphic designer

Works in progress in the studio

Works in progress in the studio

Q: What is your background?

A: I'm originally from New York. I received a BFA from The Cooper Union, working in design firms along the way. I then attended the Basel School of Design in Switzerland for graduate work. Then to Amsterdam working for Total Design, a Dutch design firm. I returned to New York and worked in branding and identity when in 1992, was transferred to Los Angeles to open a Branding satellite office. After years as creative director I escaped the corporate world to throw some mud.

Q: How did you get started in ceramics after a career in graphic design?

A: My husband gave me a wheel as a gift. I had no experience but he confidently said, “I think you're going to like this.” It changed my life. With a deep appreciation of art history, form, space, engineering, architecture, even typography and logo design, the transition to ceramics was rapturous.

Cannabis-friendly, graphic experiments inspired by  Isamu Noguchi’s playgrounds

Cannabis-friendly, graphic experiments inspired by Isamu Noguchi’s playgrounds

More experiments

More experiments

Q: What is the common thread, if any, that can be seen throughout your designs?

A: A deep appreciation of ancient forms/relics, ceramics, modern art and the history of design.  I’m driven to combine a primitive aesthetic with modern sensibilities.

I've had a long running theme that continues to develop my Leto series. I look to Cycladic figures of carved marble, which were brilliantly painted - the Cyclades Grecian islands were rich in minerals. They were weathered and bleached by the sun to a magnificent white. They originated from 3200 to 2700 BC and yet they are stunningly modern and simplified.

Cuneiform is my inspiration for the Scribe series. Cuneiform is one of the earliest systems of writing- it is a strikingly graphic glyph-like communication. My linear designs are like a language, mathematical equations or calendars of my life.

I'm also fascinated with machines and engineering. My wonder portals and contraptions are made to feel like artifacts of machines that have not yet been invented. Just as archaeologists unearth dilapidated tools and used deductive and inductive reasoning to understand their functions, these forms invite us to explore the future from a similar point of view.

Inspiration on display in the studio

Inspiration on display in the studio

Glaze color samples

Glaze color samples

Q: What are your aspirations for the next 3-5 years?

A: Continue developing designs and reach to other mediums. In February 2019, I am launching a textile collection for Kerry Joyce Textiles based on my ceramic surface designs (that Kerry and I created in collaboration). Available at Kneedler Fauchere [a local to-the-trade showroom].

Completed works

Completed works

The studio kiln in its own shed

The studio kiln in its own shed

Q: What motto do you try to live by?

A: The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Ceramic outdoor mobiles

Ceramic outdoor mobiles

Behind the Scenes / 10 Questions with Brave Matter

Despite being based in Oakland, it was in Manhattan at WantedDesign where we first crossed paths with design atelier Brave Matter.

We were immediately intrigued by each design's exquisite craftsmanship and composition.

The couple behind the designs is equally impressive: master ceramicist Christina Zamora and visual artist Cathy Lo.

Christina Zamora (left) and Cathy Lo (right)

Christina Zamora (left) and Cathy Lo (right)

Sender One   , floor and table lamp

Sender One, floor and table lamp

Together, the duo designs with intention and pushes boundaries — not just in an object’s visual appeal but also in materiality.

In two of their lighting designs, they use pink Himalayan salt and brass to diffuse light. It took several iterations to find the right treatment to counter the salt’s absorbency.

In their ceramics designs, Christina forgoes commercial glazes and mixes each and every one of her own by hand. If a glaze isn’t holding up to its task or visual expectations, she experiments until she finds one that does.

Vessel O   , N/O Vessels

Vessel O, N/O Vessels

Vessel O   , N/O Vessels

Vessel O, N/O Vessels

Nearly every stage of their design process, from prototyping to production to assembly, is done in-house, and you can see that intimacy in the craftsmanship. To go inside the minds behind the design, we asked Christina some of our favorite questions.
 

10 Questions with Christina Zamora

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Q: What is the common thread, if any, that can be seen throughout your designs?
A: I’m looking for a balance between utility and desire; qualities that make an object both enduring and ephemeral, resolute and reflective, grounded yet ethereal. I use material properties and juxtaposition, for example ceramic and salt, to communicate these qualities.

Q: What is the effect you hope your designs will have on people?
A: I’m hoping to create objects that make you feel something. If it communicates your intention, the right audience will resonate with it.

Q: We know you love to push boundaries when creating and designing objects. How do you recognize the moment to stop — the moment when your design is just right?
A: I tend to keep resolving a design until the feeling in my gut that tells me something’s not quite right, goes away. At some point you have to trust your instinct.

Q: Which book or film has changed your way of thinking and how?
A: Consilience, The Unity of Knowledge, by Edward O. Wilson - He makes the argument for a unified theory of knowledge across disciplines – that they cannot exist independent of one another. You cannot reconcile science without art, art without culture.…

Geek Love, a novel by Katherine Dunn - About a carny family whose parents set out to breed their own exhibit of human oddities with the help of arsenic and radioisotopes, challenging our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly.

They both challenged my own sense of self and my relationship to everything else.

Q: What is the most treasured object in your own home?
A: A painting made by my wife, Cathy Lo, titled Mysteriously Ambiguous. It’s inspired by one of my favorite novels, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I have a signed copy that reads “for christina, best feathers.” The portrait depicts myself as a whimsical creature with a giant plume of feathers. A reminder to be my best self.

Q: Which living person do you most admire and why?
A: E. O. Wilson. Most of his work revolves around his study of ants and his discoveries involving ant communication and the the social organization of ant communities. His work inspired the field of sociobiology and the importance of biodiversity research. His work is so fascinating and so inspiring to me. I want a t-shirt that reads, “E. O. Wilson is god.”

Q: If you were a piece of art what would you be?
A: A red polka dot in Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors installation.

Q: If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
A: A myrmecologist, studying ants. Growing up in New Mexico, my backyard was literally the desert. A mega colony of carpenter ants lived in my grandmother’s yard. Every summer they would swarm and march on some imaginary pathway through our living room and out the back door. We would watch them for hours. Within a few days they would suddenly be gone. I’ve been fascinated with ants ever since.

Q: What are your aspirations for the next 3-5 years?
A: Keep creating. Be brave.

Q: What motto do you try to live by?
A: Knowledge is power. Imagination is more important than knowledge.

See more from Brave Matter.

Behind the Scenes / 8 Questions with San Francisco’s Jack Fischer Gallery

Form + Field loves art. Not only can art have an emotional impact, but the right piece can anchor all the elements in a space and create visual harmony. As a side benefit, art can also be a great conversation starter!

When it comes to hunting for that perfect piece, one of Form + Field’s go-tos is The Jack Fischer Gallery in Potrero Hill and Minnesota Street Project.

The Jack Fischer Gallery at Minnesota Street Project

The Jack Fischer Gallery at Minnesota Street Project

When he opened the gallery 16 years ago, Jack Fischer’s mission was to exhibit the work of “insider” and so-called “outsider” artists, to support both of these important groups in the art community.

Jack’s faithfulness to this vision has since curated one of the most diverse art collections in the city. (The painting in our One Room Challenge: Living Room Makeover came from The Jack Fischer Gallery!)

Here are a few of our other favorite pieces:

"Machochinos" by Kirstine Reiner Hansen

"Machochinos" by Kirstine Reiner Hansen

"Big Rock Candy Mountain 7" by Henrik Drescher

"Big Rock Candy Mountain 7" by Henrik Drescher

"Untitled #376" by Jay Kelly

"Untitled #376" by Jay Kelly

It's no surprise that the man behind the gallery is just as interesting as the art within.

8 Questions with Jack Fischer

Q: What inspires you?
A: I am lucky to be inspired on a daily basis by everything, from a story in the news to a crushed can in the street.

Q: If you were a piece of art, what would you be?
A: A collage, a multimedia piece, a wallflower, a Francis Bacon, a Picasso.

Q: How do you evaluate a work of art?
A: If I would own the piece. In terms of its monetary value, there is a history of what the artist’s work has been selling for. It is also the hardest thing to do with emerging artists.

Q: Your gallery features a diverse collection of artists’ work. What is the common thread, if any, between them that compels you to share them with the world?
A: I love to see the evidence of the artist’s hand, the obsession with making marks. And work that I could see in my home.

Q: If you weren’t a gallery owner, what would you be?
A: An actor.

Q: What are your aspirations for the next 3-5 years?
A: To have the work of artists that I represent be acquired by museums.

Q: What motto do you try to live by?
A: Be kind and engaged.

Q: What is the effect you hope your gallery will have on individuals or the community?
A: That I would instill a love of art and hopefully the collecting bug. This will in turn support artists. Artists are an integral part of the fabric of any community.

We couldn’t agree more.

Love art? Share your favorite gallery or artist in the comments below!

Behind the Scenes / How Architecture Informs Interior Design

A building’s architecture plays a large role in interior design. Even if you’re creating an open floor plan, the basic bones of your space (and of the others on your street) are characteristic of the era in which they were built.

What does this mean for you?

It means your space has an existing narrative! If we ignore that narrative while using interior design to tell your story, the two may sit at odds with each other and look incongruous. It’s our job to find harmony between the two and to create a cohesive story that feels uniquely yours.

To show you what we mean, we designed this high concept guest bedroom that fuses Mediterranean-inspired architecture with our signature modernist style.

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Because our goal was to blend old with new, push color boundaries, and create something wholly unique, we didn’t recreate a typical Mediterranean villa.

Instead, we let the architecture inspire a vibrant color palette. Hues of yellow and red create a warm and hospitable welcome, while robin’s egg blue bedding gives a refreshing nod to the sea.

Mediterranean architecture is also known for arches and curves, so we combined the circular elements of the sconces and the ceiling fixture bulbs with the clean lines of the ceiling fixture itself, a modern chair, and these functional yet minimal nightstands.

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In general, art is a great way to tie a room together, especially when you’re marrying genres. These contemporary pieces by Robert Szot (left) and Paul Wackers (right) echo the room’s warm and colorful palette and create further harmony between lines and curves.

Lastly, plants are the final piece in evoking an airy Mediterranean retreat and just might inspire this house guest to throw open the windows!

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In the end, this room tells a specific story for a specific guest. It’s the perfect example of not fighting or ignoring your home or building’s architecture, but having the courage to weave nuances of it into the interior design.

Let multiple influences create your narrative, and you might be surprised by the richness of the results.

What styles would you want to mix together? Tell us in the comments below!

Behind the Scenes / 7 Questions with Four/Quarter

Form + Field loves to commission the work of local craftsmen for our custom projects. When it comes to millwork for wood furniture, we particularly love the creations of Four/Quarter.

The Four/Quarter workshop

The Four/Quarter workshop

Dowel Dining Table    (image credit)

Dowel Dining Table (image credit)

Four/Quarter is a San Francisco-based studio and the brainchild of designers Sergio Traverso and Kenny Johnson. Though Sergio has since assumed sole ownership of the company, his team’s designs still preserve the original vision: clean lines, a modern feel, and natural treatments of walnut, oak, ash, and douglas fir — a perfect style fit for Form + Field!

Case in point: Four/Quarter recently completed this sleek, Donald Judd-inspired piece for the bar area of our Lacquerbar project.

Lacquerbar, Berkeley

Lacquerbar, Berkeley

Some of Four/Quarter’s other notable works include Amour Vert in Palo Alto, California, Little Gem in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, and a work-in-progress custom cabinet for our Mission Bay Penthouse project.

Traverso at work in his studio

Traverso at work in his studio

We checked back in with Sergio this month to ask some thoughtful questions and go inside the mind of one of our favorite craftsmen.

Q: If you were a piece of furniture what would you be?
A: Definitely a chair.

Q: Which living person do you most admire and why?
A: I've always admired the work of Jasper Morrison. I love the idea of designing beautiful products intended for mass-manufacturing. His products are informed by logic and available technology but have handcrafted beauty.

Q: If you weren’t a designer and craftsman, what would you be?
A: Probably a motorcycle mechanic or a dog walker.

Q: Which book or film has changed your way of thinking?
A: Jiro Dreams of Sushi. His dedication to his craft is absolutely incredible.

Q: What is the most treasured object in your own home?
A: A big beautiful hardbound copy of Hans Wenger's Bauhaus.

Q: What are your aspirations for the next 3-5 years?
A: I’d like to move away from custom work and continue expanding the Four/Quarter furniture line.

Q: What motto do you try to live by?
A: Measure twice. Cut once.

That’s advice we can get behind!

See more of Four/Quarter’s work.