"When designing I seek to strike the perfect balance between form and function as well as materials and manufacturing methods. It was during my childhood years in Cote'd'Voire and summers in coastal Maine, that I fell in love with the functional beauty of working tools and wooden boats."
Last week, I sat down with Brendan Ravenhill at a downtown Los Angeles cafe to talk about his designs, the concept for the new Osteria La Buca , and his current project, the "Cord Lamp." Glenn Lawson of LAWSON AND FENNING first told me about his work months ago, and then I recently saw it posted on Andy's REFERENCE LIBRARY, and REMODELISTA . I'm super thrilled that he took the time to be interviewed for YHBHS. I fell instantly in love with the new CORD LAMP, and I immediately placed an order for myself, (how could I possibly resist?)
Your design philosophy?
I draw my greatest inspiration from tools, barns and boats - buildings and objects that strike that careful balance between form and function, using the materials efficiently and economically. When designing I set out to fully understand the manufacturing process I intend to use as well as the physical properties of the materials, and then create objects that possess an honesty of material and form.
Particular materials you are working with at the moment?
I predominantly work in metal and wood because of their timelessness and my familiarity with them. Recently though I've been working on a series of lights, exploring the properties of glass and plastic which I've greatly enjoyed. I'm also working on a series of tables using cast aluminum components which I'm very excited about.
Hand Cast Plastic, Steel, Wood, Electrical Components, 10' Cloth Cord.
What is the idea behind the cord lamp? The problem, and solution?
The Cord Lamp grew out of a long admiration for old wall-mounted arm lamps, with a particular fondness for Jean Prouve's Swing Jib Arm Lamp. In designing my own version of a wall mounted lamp, economy of material and cost were driving forces, but so was a desire to put a new twist on the archetype. What resulted is an extremely simple lamp in its construction, but one that uses its various parts to their fullest - the cloth covered cord of the lamp not only serves as a tension element that supports the pivoting steel arm, but also hides the screws in the mounting bracket. The simple construction of the Cord Lamp also allows it to come apart and pack neatly into a standard poster tube.
You and your wife recently moved from the East Coast to Echo Park. Pros/Cons? Anything you miss about NY and the East Coast? I miss my network of friends and designers out east, as well as the pace and hustle of that coast. I've begun to meet some people in the LA design community, but have yet to make many connections. I will say though that in my year out here in L.A. I've fallen in love with the manufacturing capabilities of this city. The light industry that exists in L.A. is truly amazing, and from a design and production perspective this place puts New York to shame.
With a background in fine arts in sculpture, and another degree from RISD in Industrial Design, is there a correlation in your thought process between fine art & utilitarian design?
Both my art and my design work seek to answer similar questions of material, form and craft, but whereas in my art the function is solely to evoke an emotional response, my design work aims to do that while also being economical and functional.
LA BUCA ChairYour recent project for Osteria La Buca. Explain the redesign of the space. The new materials you brought into the space, and your concept? The chairs, the stools?
18"x 24"x 30", Steel, Pine, Walnut(feet).
18"x 24"x 30", Steel, Pine, Walnut(feet).
My work at Osteria La Buca has from the beginning grown out of a conversation with the owner, Graham Snyder. We agreed that what we were trying to achieve was a space that reflected the care and attention that is put into the food. After analyzing how the space functioned, we arrived at a concept that would leave the majority of the structure intact but allow for the expansion into a neighboring, storefront which will eventually become the new entrance / waiting bar of the restaurant.
Though the structure largely remains the same, we have begun to change the material palette away from things that were chosen because they were traditionally "Italian" to materials and fixtures that we felt possessed an inherent honesty. Right now the bar at Osteria La Buca is the where the majority of the new changes can be seen.
We used local craftsmen to fabricate custom steel and pine stools, as well as build out a simple and elegant zinc bar, which over time will accumulate a patina of stains and scratches. We're using materials like reclaimed barn wood and zinc because of their ability to develop that kind of rich patina with use. Anticipated wear drives a lot of my design decisions, but so do comfort and cost considerations. For example, I avoided using upholstery on the stools in order to keep costs down but took time to create a contoured seat and back, which surprises you with its comfort.
The facade of Osteria La Buca was also sandblasted back to bare brick and I had the great pleasure of collaborating with my wife, Marjory Garrison, on new signage and lighting. The end result is a facade that seems to have always been that way.
(thanks brendan for taking the time!)
Brendan Ravenhill is sold at:
Lawson-Fenning 1618 Silver Lake Blvd 7257 Beverly Blvd