What Joe is Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving 3rings readers! I hope everyone out there is taking a break from the mundanities of the day to day, enjoying copious amounts of the bird, and imbibing stealthily into the eve. I’ve taken a brief pause from such enjoyments to reflect on some of the design highlights of the past year. Forthwith, what I’m thankful for, 2009:

1. Green Design

And I don’t mean green as a mere marketing tool, a practice that has become all too common these days, but rather the kind of work that reflects a comprehensive understanding of the resource and production networks that go towards creating things, as exemplified with Green Choice Flooring, or—and perhaps even better—work that sources materials from what the rest of the world throws away, as with Chris Rucker’s Plywood Furniture.


Green Choice Flooring.


Wall mounted shelving system. Designed by Chris Rucker.

2. International Design

Bless the world wide web for bringing geographically/politically/linguistically isolated voices into play. During the past year, I’ve often relied on its search tools to find work by designers who aren’t in the Western mainstream, like Slovenia’s Janez Suhadolc, Bulgaria’s Velichko Velikov, and Lebanon’s Hoda Baroudi and Maria Hibri.


Chair Lajt. Designed by Janez Suhadolc.


Cubba Bubba. Designed by Velichko Velikov.


Bokja. Designed by Hoda Baroudi and Maria Hibri. Exhibited bia Al Sabah.

3. Local Production

I’ve become obsessed with the difficulties of international trade, specifically, the tremendous energy cost of producing in China and consuming in the U.S. But what’s one mere mortal to do (besides obsessively checking clothing tags for the rare phrase “made in the U.S.A.)? Encourage local production, that’s what. It’s a joy to see much of Brooklyn doing the same. The work that emerged this year from BKLYN Designs was not only terrific from a design perspective, but also is helping to create a new paradigm for manufacture. I’m especially grateful for the wonderful work in wood by Eric Manigian, Roger Benton, and Bruce Marsh.


Enso Table. Designed by Eric Manigian.


Storage Unit. Designed by Roger Benton of Benton Custom.


Townsend Table. Designed by Bruce Marsh of Bruce Marsh Designs.

4. Thinking Outside the Box (and into the circle)

Don’t be a slave to the square, the straight line! That’s what the Circle Kitchen, the Beignet Tub, and the Dornbracht Supernova bathroom concept would shout if they had lungs. Each of these designs embraces circularity in a way that helps us question our traditional notions about arranging space, and that’s a good thing.


Original Circle Kitchen. Manufactured by CC Concepts, Ltd.


The Beignet Tub. Designed by Spiritual Mode.


Supernova. Designer by Sieger for Dornbracht.

5. The fortuitous intersection of art and design

Art/Design installations like Graffiti Gone Global, Zimoun and Pelang’s Sound Sculptures, and Level Green help to erase the divide between the “artistic” and the “functional,” thus teaching artists about design and designers about art, while also prompting consumers to think flexibly about these often arbitrary distinctions.


A galinha, Tamanho Ano. Created by Smael.


Sound Sculptures. Designed by Zimoun and Pelang.


Level Green. Created by J. Mayer H. Architects and art + com Berlin for the Autostadt.

Leave a Reply