Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Design Miami #1

The H&dM garage was on fire last night with a Ferrari event. It is the best building in Miami.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Design Miami 2011:

Clamp Table offered for sale at Mark McDonald (we also designed his exhibition space).

If I do say so myself, my Clamp Tables never looked fresher. They are the culmination of my early work with systems and new materials, . The striped motif is not just surface decoration; it is derived from sheet materials that are clamped together in a stack. The inherent beauty of the industrial materials - baltic birch plywood, medium density fiberboard, parallam, and colored acrylic - are emphasized when they are combined in this manner.  The stainless steel base, includes a clamping mechanism that references the art of furniture-making. Wood it is often glued and clamped temporarily during fabrication; here the clamp becomes the final method of assembly.

When I developed this series I was only a few years out of school and I had been clamping and gluing a lot in the studio - making furniture and industrial design projects - so the bar-clamp was sort of an iconic and ironic reference. I thought it was beautiful, and I wanted to just keep it in mix rather than remove it. I had also been advised that it was hard to glue various plastic and wood together, so a mechanical fastening device made sense.

Mechanical fastening also allows for changes in configuration and materials. Although the Clamp Table is systematic in its design, each is produced on a one-off basis. The original series was exhibited in a show entitled Comply, in the Harry Allen Studio, in conjunction with the ICFF in New York in May of 1997. It has since been modified for production. Clamp tables are produced by the designer on a custom basis, and are available in various sizes, materials, and configurations.

The Clamp Table is in the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


My press hungry pig made an appearance in the LA Times today.

Thanks to my friend Carson for the spotting and laptop photo!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Color Report: Thankful Red

My travels this month took me to Sewla, a monastery high in the Bhutanese Himalayas.                    

I am very thankful to our friends Michael Reynolds and Eric Hoffman for bringing us on this incredible journey. We hiked 5 hours, uphill, to get there. We stayed at the monastery for two nights and despite the simple life the monks lead, it was a sensory immersion for this designer from New York - the chanting, the silence, the stars, the butter candles, the incense, the mountain light, and the honest food.  It was here that I found my new favorite color, the deep burgundy red of the monk's robes. It is a color that will never look the same to me again. Morning and evening prayers featured a sea of red robes set to a score more minimal and haunting than a Phillip Glass symphony.

The red played beautifully against the minimal  Himalayan backdrop for music practice.

This deep shade of red is now, to me, the color of compassion and duty. While I was travelling a good friend became very sick. Edward James (Barney) Brown was an artist, an art restorer, and one of the most magical people on earth.  My new friends at the monastery helped me honor him by hanging some prayer flags. As they wave, the flags are said to send prayers out over the mountains and valleys. 

Barney was not very religious, but I am sure he would have been inspired by the monks, in their red robes, helping us hang the colorful flags. Barney might have gotten out his water colors and done a painting of the red robes or the flags waving. Barney died on November 13th, as I was returning from my trip. 

I know a thankful red color story is a bit of a stretch, but somehow it made sense to me. Color takes on meaning. This year, in addition to the myriad of things I have to be thankful for on a daily basis, I wanted to give a special shout out to the red monks of Sewla for their hospitality and thoughtful ways. I also wanted to thank Barney for everything he taught me about art, and color, and enjoying life. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jet Lag

My return from India and Bhutan resulted in major jetlag. Last week is a blur but we managed to take in a lot of NYC culture.                                       
Monday: I hit the ground running at the Museum of Art and Design Gala dinner at a table hosted by Kris Fuchs and Maria Sepulveda, my friends at Suite NY. It was a fun event, they kept the award ceremony short and let people have a nice dinner. The only picture I took, of Holly Hotchner, the Director of the Museum, on the big screen monitor presenting an award, does not do the evening justice. Even in my jetlag I had more fun than this. I am sorry I did not get a pic of Vladimir Kagan receiving his award, or of my fun table mates.

Tuesday: We cooked dinner for friends and had a little toast to the passing of our friend Barney Brown. The Magic will be missed.

Wednesday: I completely forgot we had tickets to the 9/11 Memorial :( But we did get some rest.

Thursday: For some reason I felt it would be a good idea to get John Jasperse tickets at BAM. John and I love modern dance, but the evening just fell apart. The Wall Street protesters held us up, we didn't have time for the adventurous meal in Ft. Greene we had planned, and we ended up sleeping through the whole dance piece. It looked interesting, between nods. Lots of fluorescent tape. The NY Times gave it a nice review. I think. The piece had very few points of engagement. As you read the review, just imagine trying to stay awake ...

Friday: John made some very hot Tortilla Soup.

Saturday: Finally coming out of the haze we caught Melancholia, Lars Von Trier's epic new film featuring a hauntingly beautiful Kirsten Dunst. I am still processing it. Scary and beautiful. I didn't immediately love it, but I woke up thinking about it on Sunday morning and it colored my whole day. It is a powerful fantasy.

Sunday: We saw a great production at NY Theatre Workshop in the hood on 4th Street. It is a stage adaptation of Once. The movie was a folk cult sensation a few years back and I love the music. Now it has been set for the stage. At $75/head, with Broadway aspirations, in this perfect little theater, with a bar set up on the stage and a dozen very talented musical performers I would say run-don't walk to get tickets for the holidays!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Harry's Travels: Bhutan #2

I will be boring friends for a long time with my pictures of Bhutan. I've seen so many beautiful things. One of my favorites was this Geometric Poem. The grid motif appears repeatedly in Buddhist temples, and God knows I love a grid, but here it's coupled with text and apparently it reads in all directions. Our guide could not read it because it is written in an ancient language, but the concept and the resulting pattern are mesmerizing. Like an ancient, holy crossword puzzle.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Harry's Travels: Bhutan #1

We landed in Paro, Bhutan last Friday, sorry about the late news, but Internet has been spotty. We spent our first morning visiting Tigers Nest (Taktsang). It is two hour plus hike up to see this spectacular temple. It appeared out of the fog dramatically. It is a fully functioning temple and we attended our first of many Bhuddist prayer ceremonies in one of its small shrines.

On the way up we passed this little retreat cottage, tucked in a ravine. I love the intersection of the simple cubic form and the rocky landscape. This is a retreat house, where a monk will go for three years and three months to contemplate and pray.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Katonah Yoga NYC

Visit our latest interior project at the grand opening of Katonah Yoga NYC this weekend. Free yoga and Pilates classes!

Don't miss out on a free class - they're filling up quickly!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Banana Bowl Spotting

The Banana Bowl for Areaware was spotted in "Miami Marvel" of Elle Decor.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Harry's Travels: India #2 Color Report

As luck would have it, we arrived in Varanasi just in time for Chhath.

Varanasi is the holiest Hindu city on the banks of the Ganges River. The sights have been amazing and we hit it right for Chhath, a festival during which women make offerings to the sun god in honor of their sons. We were up at 4:30 this morning to fireworks and thousands of women lining the banks of the river with baskets of fruit and flowers and incense. It was beautiful. Most of the women wear fluorescent orange stripes on their foreheads in addition to their bindis.

It all made sense when the sun appeared above the river.

I am in awe of India's spiritual use of color.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Harry's Travels: India #1

I am in India on my way to Bhutan. Nothing humbles your design sense as much as a trip to India. Design is all about control, India is all about letting go.

As much as any designer, maybe even more, I am comfortable embracing the reality of things. Life is random and sometimes going with the flow enables some incredible results. No country does random as well as India. Our first stop was the Hanuman temple in Delhi. Out front they sell flower garlands. The garlands are used to adorn everything from stores, to cars, to temples. The world needs more flower garlands, it is such a beautiful gesture. And to my Western eyes it seems so decadent; they will after all, just decay; but herein lies the beauty.

India offers many examples of random embellishment. Note the tassels on this banana truck.

There are many lessons to be learned here. One of the things I noticed today is how many components go into an experience. The atmosphere, the smells, the sounds. We visited Agra today and the Taj Mahal was splendid. White on white marble, in a smoky haze, lit by a setting sun, and hoards of visitors, a sea of humanity, paying their respects.