Reader's Choice! The 2011 Hit List

By Erin Renzas
Photo credit: Courtesy of Jared Rusten
California Desk, Jared Rusten

The saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” rang true for furniture designer Jared Rusten when he was living in New York in 2006. “I was missing the West Coast and wanted to lay my hands across a representation of the state and feel its contours,” says Rusten, now resettled in San Francisco. This desire gave birth to a line of California-shaped desks and tables that are constructed from salvaged Claro walnut—a species native to the Golden State; jrusten.com.

Photo credit: Courtesy of BaDesign
Aardvark Table, Branden Adams, BaDesign

Whether the Port of Oakland cranes inspired George Lucas while he created Star Wars is a long-debated point. But when it comes to Branden Adams’ Aardvark table, the answer is clearly affirmative. The designer, whose BaDesign studio is near the port, not only drew inspiration from the weathered forms in the industrial environment, he also used materials from the area. Each table is constructed from reclaimed shipping pallets— and not just the wood. Adams used nails pulled from the support materials as a primary ingredient in his topsecret wood stain; badesignlab.com.

Photo credit: Jeff Dow
Chambers Eat+Drink, Charles Doell, Mr. Important

San Francisco’s Phoenix Hotel has long been home to touring rock stars, so when creating the new restaurant within it, designer Charles Doell wanted to make a place where headliners would feel at home. Chambers Eat+Drink has a healthy serving of rocker chic with a dash of dignified library thrown in. The space—with its shelves of vinyl record albums and the exhortation “Be Amazing” writ in lights—is sure to bring out the moves like Jagger in anyone;  jdvhotels.com/dining/sanfrancisco/chambers.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Fuse Lighting
Geneva Pendant, Kevin Kolanowski, Fuse Lighting

Although its unique shape and chromed finish may inspire visions of a high-tech future, the Geneva pendant was actually informed by the past. Designer Kevin Kolanowski, owner of Los Angeles’ Fuse Lighting, says that his pendant is an homage to the designs of the 1970s. “Pierre Cardin was hot at the time, and he designed a home line that really spoke to me,” says Kolanowski. The pendant is handcrafted exclusively in California using cold-rolled steel and brass. The fixture is available in Northern California at Sloan Miyasato and in Southern California at Thomas Lavin; fuselighting.com.

Photo credit: Courtesy of JOBY
Trapeze LED Table Light, Peter Stathis, JOBY

Even if it didn’t glow, the Trapeze LED table light would make a striking piece of sculpture. But with its three-axis range of motion and aluminum spherical joints, it is more akin to a task lamp on steroids. A collaborative venture between San Francisco’s Peter Stathis and JOBY design studio, the Trapeze, which is available in two sizes, can shine a light in nearly any direction imaginable, while its cutting-edge flat-panel technology illuminates a wide swath of real estate with a soft and uniform glow; joby-stathis.com.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Lukas Nickerson
Leaf Chair, Lukas Nickerson

The leaves of a tree are impermanent, returning to the earth with the seasons. Lukas Nickerson’s Leaf chair can have a similar life span, as the design allows it to be easily disassembled and recycled at the end of its useful existence (a concept borrowed from the book Cradle to Cradle, a treatise on human industry and ecologically sound design). The Oakland designer is fascinated with what he thinks is a uniquely Californian concept: the marriage of industry and craft. The chair may (or may not) be destined for the recycling bin in the distant future, but until then, the blend of aluminum sheet metal, laminated mahogany and Spectra rope makes it a thing of beauty; lukasnickerson.com.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Cliff Spencer
Simon Dresser, Cliff Spencer

When you think of furniture made from recycled wine staves, you might envision the overly rusticated tchotchkes populating Wine Country gift shops. Cliff Spencer’s Simon dresser will change that impression. Spencer, an Angeleno who once worked as a set designer, makes elegant, well-designed case goods from cast-off staves in the Shaker tradition: working with, instead of discarding, the imperfections of the wine-stained wood to make his pieces sing. The result is a symphony of differently colored staves rounded out by raw steel pulls; cliffspencer.net.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Robert Siegel, RS Handmade
The Ostrich Collection, Robert Siegel, RS Handmade

Inspired by its avian namesake, each piece in the Ostrich Collection is accented with a band of raised dots reminiscent of the bird’s textured skin. The collection is hand thrown using lead-free English porcelain in the Los Angeles studio of ceramicist Robert Siegel. Although Siegel fine-tuned his craft in 2006 with two artistic residencies in Jingdezhen, China (the birthplace of fine porcelain), his new collection stays true to the designer’s West Coast roots. The design aesthetic reflects that of midcentury ceramicist Edith Heath, who is from the Bay Area, while the subtle colors are a nod to the flora of Southern California; rshandmade.com.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Carly Borman
Moss Bench, Carly Borman

If a table were to magically appear in the middle of a forest, it might look a lot like Carly Borman’s Moss bench. A recent graduate of California College of the Arts, the San Francisco designer used live moss and found branches to create her seat. Borman was inspired by the way the furry green substance grows between garden pavers and says that the bench “blurs the boundary between the wood supporting the moss and the moss holding the wood.” Variations are available upon request; carlyborman.com.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Maloos Anvarian
Mod Louis Settee, Maloos Anvarian

At just 17, Maloos Anvarian left Tehran for Paris to study at the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Modernes. Since then, the furniture designer has been rewriting history. “I start with styles of historical importance and bring them into the 21st century,” says Anvarian, who now lives and works in San Francisco. The Mod Louis settee is the perfect example of her ability to juxtapose old and new elements into one cohesive design. The antique gilt-wood frame has a Plexiglas seat and back where one would typically expect to find fabric. Her pieces are available exclusively at the DWM I Maloos showroom in SF; dwm-maloos.com.

Add a Comment