At BKLYN DESIGNS 09: Hard Meets Soft with Warp Designs

Meet Kimberly Manne of Warp Designs LLC—long-time Brooklynite, former proprietor of Williamsburg’s Warp Showroom; current full-time interior designer; and “Owner, Creative Director, Head Designer, and Most Enthusiastic Sculptor with a Business Plan.” Manne’s enthusiasm is palpable indeed, seeming to spill-over into every aspect of the design-build-market-sell dynamic, but especially so with regard to her unique aesthetic, which she cleverly characterizes as “hard meets soft… it’s a theme.”

Perforated Steel Vase. Designed by Kimberly Manne of Warp Designs.

The somewhat cryptic characterization of her work concerns the unlikely juxtaposition of “urban” and “natural,” or “industrial” and “organic”—surprising combinations which, I think, are somehow perfectly apropos for the BKLYN DESIGNS 2009 venue. At this weekend’s show, Manne will be exhibiting a handful of products from her recently launched line of furniture and accessories—a pair of vases and a couple of tables, to be precise—each of which exemplify and elucidate the hard/soft interplay, sort of a Yin and Yang for the Brooklyn set. First off, Warp’s Perforated Steel Vases morph our notions of this most industrial of materials. Consisting of thin bands of steel made to twist and arch into elegant loops and swirls, these innovative pieces re-define the notion of a floral container. The perforations accommodate individual stalks while the rectangular receptacle (doing double duty as the vase’s base) keeps thirsty flowers well-watered. Manne says, she “loves working with steel as though it were simply another fabric…” A quick glance at these pieces bears out the illusion: the graceful curves of Manne’s bent steel puts one in mind of silken sheets or gossamer gowns, just barely perturbed by the gentlest of breezes. And, of course, the vases offer the continual counterpose of flower and steel, again referencing the theme of hard v. soft.


Perforated Steel Vase. Designed by Kimberly Manne of Warp Designs.


Purple Heart Wood Side Table. Designed by Kimberly Manne of Warp Designs.

Next up, the Purple Heart Wood Side Table (see last year’s A Purple Heart) continues the mantra of “hard-edged steel merging with the tender organic.” Simply constructed yet alluringly geometrical, the piece features a grid of Costa Rican purple heart wood in a stainless steel frame. Machined wheels and arc legs (conferring mobility and a prodigious degree of structural strength) complete the picture. There’s also a Solid Black Adirondack Walnut Top Coffee Table with identical arc legs, custom built to your preferred dimensions. If you’ve got your eye on the Purple Heart Wood number (and who wouldn’t–it’s checker-board pattern is intrinsically appealing, evoking both Alice in Wonderland and the aesthetic of the computerized grid), you best act fast: the Costa Rican lumber will cease to be harvested sometime in 2010.

But not to worry, in Manne’s optimistic purview, technology makes for an appealing bed-fellow, in more ways than one: once the heartwood is no longer, she’ll swap it for the ecologically triumphant Paperstone, tinted to match the heartwood. However appealing the natural grains of wood, the switch-out makes excellent environmental sense; it also continues the theme of organic/industrial in an intriguing and surprising way, given that Paperstone represents the ingenious conversion of mere paper into a passable facsimile of one of nature’s hardest substances.

But wait, that’s not all… Manne’s future offerings include a line of industrial/city-themed carpets: “based on creating a softgood you step on that references the outside urban environment traversed daily, these art-carpets are rich with sewer grates, cement, street and graffiti references.” Manne also does custom wall-units, desks, beds, and bookshelves, as well as upholstered window seats and other enticing built-ins.

With such an intriguing product line-up, you must make a point of stopping by Manne’s space at this weekend’s show. She’ll be more than happy to expound on Warp Design’s past, present, and future endeavors.

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