Every designer has a strong voice, so it’s not always easy for a collaboration to be cohesive. Brooklyn furniture studio Stillmade, however, directs chatter into harmony with their new collaborative series.
Creative director Paul Mignogna founded Stillmade in 2013 to design, engineer, and fabricate elegant, understated, and modern furnishings all in one Brooklyn workshop. Initially, the company mostly revolved around Paul’s personal practice, Mignogna Studio, but the collaborative series gives emerging creatives the opportunity to expand the Stillmade catalog. The inaugural six piece collection lets industrial designer Pat Kim, ceramicist Danny Kaplan, and artist Michele Quan introduce their own aesthetics in conversation with Mignogna Studio.
While some pieces in the resulting collection might waver from the workshop’s commitment to “understated” design, they blend into the Stillmade style by working with a curated selection of materials—domestically sourced timber and ceramic—and a limited color palette of white and blue. Paul’s Clifton Sofa, supported on a pair of walnut frames with exposed joinery, serves as the point of inspiration for the other designers. The frame’s shape is echoed in the bases of Michele’s Painted Credenza and Painted Hutch and in the corners of Danny’s Jane Coffee Table.
Pat stands apart from the rest of the pack with his fluid, yet sculptural, coffee and side tables. He works with walnut and white oak to stay within the visual language of the rest of the collection, but Pat’s main attractions are the tubular bases made from cast resin and hand-troweled lime plaster. Their playful shapes take on the personality of a Cheeto puff—though in an elevated white instead of blazing orange—and support the tables’ round arms, which in turn hold up round table tops.
These illustrate Pat’s design philosophy of “oscillating between pure form exploration and tight functional pieces.” The Kim Coffee Table has two focal points made from the lime plaster. One is a short mound, the other an oblong extrusion that turns upwards into an L-shape. The table’s arm passes through the stumpy piece, then balances gingerly on the edge of the other. Pat’s sculptural design veers towards the decorative, but the plaster forms are also crucial for balance and structure.
Since plaster is commonly used for mold-making in ceramics, Pat’s choice of material ties nicely to the works by the other emerging artists. The Jane Coffee Table tessellates a pill-shape with the occasional blue accent, which is tiled upon a Stillmade frame. The Painted Credenza and Painted Hutch use Michele’s enlarged dinner plate design as three dimensional handles protruding from Stillmade cabinetry. Michele quarters her circular plates, then reassembles the wedges with indigo stripes aligned on the cabinet fronts.
The new designers were purposely selected because they hadn’t yet worked with a powerhouse brand like Design Within Reach or Herman Miller. The collaborative series gives these emerging voices a first opportunity to design furniture of the highest quality with an established studio.
“This series will bring to life works that would otherwise be unrealized and add to the ever expanding canon of modern American design,” a representative from Stillmade said.