At BKLYN DESIGNS 2009: Bear and Lion Let the Work do the Talking

The refreshingly spare aesthetic of Brooklyn’s Bear and Lion portfolio is matched by the no-frills look of their website—as well as their concise philosophy of design: “we are Brooklyn-based designers presenting a collection of modern and environmentally sustainable furnishings.” Bernardo Guillermo and Jude Heslin-di Leo are men of few words, it would seem, showing a fair measure of restraint as concerns self-aggandizement.

Cybil Mirror. Designed by Bernardo Guillermo and Jude Heslin-di Leo of Bear and Lion.

But this quietude hasn’t kept the rest of the world from noticing their excellent minimalist designs, especially the Mirabelle Table and Cybil Mirror. Mirabelle (named after the client who commissioned the piece) is constructed of quartered white oak, plywood, and a water-based (and antiseptically clean) alabaster-shaded stain. Possessed of a certain classic aesthetic (I can picture it in the old-money homes that dot the tip of the Cape), Mirabelle yet exudes a 21st-century savvy, not only in its clean and angular look, but also in the philosophy behind its design. Said concept starts with the legs, each of which are made of twin slats of quartered oak ripped with a 50 degree bevel and joined at the seam. The result is a “strong and stable structure that requires no further support.” The technique also allows for efficient assembly and minimal construction waste, which, in concert with B and L’s use of locally and sustainably harvested lumber, adds a touch of the green to Mirabelle’s snow-white aspect.


Mirabelle Table. Designed by Bernardo Guillermo and Jude Heslin-di Leo of Bear and Lion.

The piece’s smart construction and elegant appearance was enough to draw accolades from the UK’s World of Interiors Magazine, which featured Mirabelle on the cover of their April Issue. By the same token, The Future Perfect gallery/store was sufficiently taken with Bear and Lion’s Cybil Mirror to include B and L as a featured exhibitor in their “Hue Are You?” show. The piece is one of the more intriguing mirrors I’ve come across. Made of wood and laminated glass, it has a two-tone tint that creates the optical illusion of a third dimension; thus, from a certain vantage, it looks as if the mirror executes a neat left turn half-way across its reflective surface. The result is a light/dark “split personality” that also plays tricks with the looker’s perspective, very like an MC Escher Print or a De Chirico painting.

While Bear and Lion’s Guillermo and Heslin-di Leo are still relative unknowns, once they show “Mirabelle” and “Cybil” at the upcoming BKLYN DESIGNS they’re sure to acquire acolytes aplenty.

Leave a Reply