Time to Reflect on Design

Travel Notes from Paris

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Every September, the European home design industry returns from their summer break in August to present the best of their new creations at the International Maison Objet show in Paris.  The market is focused on home decor, interior design, and lifestyle concepts, with a very inspiring combination of innovation and new talent throughout the halls.

Simon, Jay and I traveled across the Atlantic to walk the market, meet with some of our partners,  and find new resources or makers we can potentially work with on products. The show also gives an opportunity to spend time discussing, brainstorming and sketching out our approach to design for the next season.  We debate over what can be integrated into our product categories, what new ideas we can bring into existing collections, and where we could layer on new decor concepts.

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“The market gives you a perspective on what is happening in the world with design, and home furnishings, and we distill what makes sense for our line, whether we are buying or designing”, says Simon.  Maison Objet also gives us a sense of what direction glass is heading in, and in a world with the majority of the glass being machine made, we find we are well differentiated with the ‘hand’ being the core value of what we do. We further defined our design mission while traveling. We monitor what is happening in the market but take a great deal of  inspiration from nature, and we blend that with our humanistic approach to design and making things. To capture the essence of our designs, we use a reductive approach of taking away that which isn’t needed to arrive at refined simplicity. The intent of the designs is to amplify the handmade aspect of our products, resulting in objects that are a joy to live with at home.   

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One takeaway from the show was a growing interest in the handmade with small batch production, and a traceability story about the materials.  We found a few other European glass makers, that Simon truly enjoyed talking with, from building furnaces to raw materials used. Glass has also become quite pervasive, as a material of choice for designers.  

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During the market, all across Paris, the whole city was celebrating ‘Design Week’, with interior design events and companies launching their latest products in their retail outposts. 

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We had the opportunity to meet with our Italian linen partners, Bertozzi, and reviewed several new designs that they worked on with us, and also some new offerings they created.  Their hand block printed patterns are one of Simon’s favorites. While travelling through Morocco Simon discovered Bertozzi linens at one of the hotels he was staying at. When Simon returned from the trip, we pursued the company and since developed a great partnership with them as they have a similar ethos, with the handmade approach to their products.  

New concepts from the trip will appear in our Fall Holiday season of 2020.

In Good Company

Twin Farms/Opus One Collaboration

Gathering around the Table

We recently had the pleasure of joining forces with Opus One Winery and Twins Farms, to provide a beautiful Vermont based dining event for guests at the Twin Farms.  The aim of our efforts, was to bring people together for an elevated experience around the dining table, with the combination of great food, amazing wine, and handcrafted excellence in glass.

This dinner event, at Twin Farms, featured seven courses, by guest Chef Sarah Steffan, of Blackberry Farm, and Nathan Rich, of Twin Farms. France Posener, who is from Opus One, told amazing vineyard tales of the company history, it’s evolution, and gave an in depth background on the wines being tasted. To compliment the theme of the evening, each couple attending the event received a Bristol Wine Decanter from Simon Pearce.

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The decanter, is a special glass vessel for us, which started out much like the Bristol Tumbler adhering to proportions from the golden section ratios found in nature.  Simon brings a keen eye to proportioning, and attention to detail that is a hallmark of our design philosophy. We carry these values through every new design, and it is innate to this modern decanter.

We blend distinctive form with function. The character of the design first started with renderings on paper while considering the right capacity for a bottle of wine, and creating the proper amount of interior surface area for the wine to decant. Through the sampling process, we tested them and made  revisions, before the process of manufacturing began, right here at our workshops, in Vermont.

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With our trip to Napa last spring, we set out to form relationships with companies like Opus One, and cultivating a deeper connection with handcrafted American wine.

Our first collaborative dining and wine tasting experience around the table was at Ocean House, an amazing destination in Rhode Island.  The culinary expertise for the food was a combination of Twin Farms with Ocean House, and France Posener eloquently spoke about the Opus One wine being served, and I gave the guests insights about the design and making of our Barre Pitcher which we featured that evening.

 

The Barre Pitcher is a contemporary fluid form that  is a joy to use, and is reminiscent of the silhouette of an Egret.

From Milan to the Mill

The Spritz Phenomenon

Every spring, Milan becomes the destination for designers from all over the world who descend upon the the city for the Salone del Mobile, to experience what is the latest and greatest in the design industry.

In addition to the show, the whole city celebrates creativity during Design Week, with home furnishing and interior design companies  hosting unique events at their locations.  Pop up installations are everywhere by brands of any industry, with new concepts for Living, and all doors are open with crowds and lines forming. On the surface, Milan can appear somewhat stoic, but below the surface there is a dynamic vibrancy due to the strong blend of culture and commerce. On alternating years, the design show has a focus on lighting, which is inspiring to see with the nearly limitless variations in construction and materials. The use of glass is so pervasive from pendants to chandeliers and lamps. Milan is both an inspiration and affirmation of how important creativity is to business.

After an entire day at the trade show or events around the city, the golden hour sets in when everyone goes out for the Aperitivi, a ritual that starts around 6pm. The classic bitter liqueurs and aromatized wines are served before dinner, and many of the unique combinations of drinks evolved through the midcentury era in Italy. The modern Aperitivi with a spritz of either Procesco or soda water, are more than just drinks, they are meant to inspire, reflect and get the conversations going.

The famed Bar Basso, known for the Negroni Sbagliato, appears to be a traditional establishment  but has a cosmopolitan clientele and this particular campari drink is typically served in a giant hand blown goblet with a large block of ice. From the street you know you are approaching Bar Basso because crowds gather around it.

A previous recipe for a Negroni on this blog can be found here.

During the golden hour, throughout Milan you see many people drinking an orange toned Aperitivi, known as Aperol spritz, which has gained in popularity and finds it’s way here to Vermont and is served at our Mill.

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Jerod our Restaurant and Bar Director says “We are loving the sharp elements that amaro’s are bringing to the table right now. Our guests are looking for lighter cocktails that they can enjoy before their dinners and Aperol brings a refreshing element to these. Paired with Barr Hill Gin, Orange, and a splash of soda is a lovely way to enjoy this ever popular aperitif!”. 

Here is our recipe for “The Bubbly Bee”:

1-1/2 oz Barr Hill Gin

1/8 oz Aperol

1/8 oz St. Elder

1-1/2 oz Prosecco

Small orange slice or twist to garnish

Build in 1/2 ice filled glass, add a splash of soda and garnish.

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I also made up my own Americano, while in the Dolomites:

1-1/2 ounces of Campari

1-1/2 ounces of vermouth

Soda water

Served in our own Apprentice glass.