The Six Product Designers You Need to Know Now
From wallpaper to smartphone cases, Europe to Southern California, here are the makers who’ve captured our attention
As Lonny editors, we see a lot of newsworthy products in the marketplace. But when it comes to the goods we choose to surround ourselves with, two needs move us most these days. First, we want to know the people behind them—their stories, influences, and Instagram handles. And second, it’s no longer enough that these items be beautiful; we care deeply about the conditions under which they are made. So when it came time to whittle down this year’s batch of contenders to a half-dozen creative talents from around the world, naturally both of those factors were front and center.
Each of these up-and-coming designers creates products with a compelling point of view. Their works stand out in a sea of others, whether we first spotted the objects in a showroom, on a social media site, or at Paris’s Maison & Objet fair. They are instantly memorable and impossible to overlook. And although Antoinette Poisson’s ornate, 18th-century-inspired wallpaper may, at first glance, seem diametrically opposed to Studio WM’s clean-lined Lucent mirror, the passion and poetry behind the group’s designs are what unite them into a cohesive whole. Remember these names. They may be the new kids on the block for 2015, but you can bet they’ll be sticking around.
The Los Angeles designer and art director launched her eponymous creative studio in 2013 after releasing a collection of small-run home goods and accessories. She’s since expanded into a full-service creative agency, whose clients include CB2, Of a Kind, and Need Supply. Although the firm specializes in branding, designing everything from logos to packaging, Kostreva has continued introducing home decor accents and begun partnering with makers on limited-edition pieces such as glazed ceramic dishes and geometric stamped jewelry. We’re especially fond of her painterly phone cases and letterpress journals. “I love what I do, and I try to create things that other people will love and enjoy too,” she says. Look out for more releases from the multitalented Kostreva this fall.
Former Pratt Institute student and magazine-world alum Lisa Hunt recently shifted directions in her professional life to get back to her artistic roots. The outcome? An inaugural collection of glam-meets-graphic-art prints that debuted at the end of 2014. The range is titled Alchemy as a reference to her process. “Artist Gustav Klimt has been a big inspiration for me,” says the New York City designer. “I’m drawn to his ornamentation, repetition of forms and motifs, and use of gold.” Each of Hunt’s seven styles is screen printed by hand, then gold leafed by hand, giving them a one-of-a-kind quality. Up next on Hunt’s to-do list: a line of pillows to complement her collection.
Wendy Legro and Maarten Collignon met at Holland’s Design Academy Eindhoven and founded Studio WM in Rotterdam soon after graduation. The duo’s work includes furniture, lighting, decor accessories, and, most recently, a range of scent diffusers done in a delicately futuristic style. Creating products that are innovative—an interactive mirror with various opacities, for example—as well as aesthetically pleasing is the essence of the brand’s mission. Legro and Collignon have a skill for combining high-concept design with eloquently tactile forms.
Social responsibility is at the core of Katy Skelton’s business model. The Texas native worked as a furniture designer for wholesale giant Four Hands before getting her graduate degree at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her thesis collection, a group of wood furnishings made in fair-trade factories, had a strong influence on her own line, which she launched with six pieces in fall 2013. The midcentury-inspired range, designed in Brooklyn, New York, and made in the United States, has since expanded to include more than 15 pieces, including a graceful, open-frame desk and a Carrara marble tray. Additional works are debuting this April (we’re particularly keen on the camp bench and wood ladders). And with the introduction of vintage rugs and accent furniture on the horizon, Skelton’s transition into full-on lifestyle brand seems assured.
This Paris-based line takes its name from the chief mistress of Louis XV (also known as Madame de Pompadour). The famed courtesan was a lover of wallpaper—and the trio of Vincent Farelly, Jean-Baptiste Martin, and Julie Stordiau does justice to her memory. As preservationists and experts in historical restoration, they seek to resurrect the tradition of domino wallpaper, which had its heyday in the 18th century. Their two-year-old brand utilizes engraving plates as well as hand-blocking and hand-coloring techniques to create single-sheet designs the way they would have been made more than 200 years ago. They’ve recently expanded their collection to include smaller accessories such as pillows, lampshades, and folding stools.
I would locate myself inside a triple Venn diagram of art, craft, and design.” That’s how Eric Trine defines his work, which pays homage to his background as a sculptor without losing sight of the offerings’ appeal to the consumer. After graduating from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2013 with an MFA in applied craft and design, Trine opened his Southern California studio to make furniture and home decor. His pieces, predominantly made in bent steel with leather and wood accents, include seating, occasional tables, plant stands, and decorative objects—all marrying an angular look and a lighthearted sensibility. Of this year’s list of product designers, Trine may also be the most savvy on social media. Follow him on Instagram (@etrine) and check out his #FridayFancyDance videos to see why.