On a shelf in the home office designer Kiel Mead shares with his girlfriend, the performance artist Sarah Boatright, sits a set of drawers stuffed with backstock of his Forget Me Not rings, little string bows cast in precious metals. Mead’s breakout design when he was still studying furniture at Pratt, the rings were the genesis of the 27-year-old’s fascination with casting objects into wearable reminders — of childhood, of holidays, of lost loves, of an old car he once drove. Boatright, 24, also deals with the preservation of memories in her work, dressing up in goofy wigs to make reenactment videos of family Thanksgivings or furtively recorded interactions between strangers, which go on to enjoy eternal life on YouTube.
So if you’d expect the couple’s Brooklyn apartment to be decked out with the kind of overstyled chicness typical of two young creatives, one of whom practically runs the Williamsburg branch of The Future Perfect, you’d be mistaken: Like their creations, the possessions they keep on display are more about storytelling than status — from an old Coleman cooler that reminds Mead of his father to a motley crew of self-made, bartered, and castoff furnishings. “We have such a bizarro, schizophrenic design scheme when our ideas come together in the space,” says Boatright. But, explains Mead, “we want each object to have an adventure behind it. Surrounding yourself with the things that remind you of people, places, and events makes coming home a lot more gratifying.”
Lest their unbridled nostalgia turn the place into a rat trap, however, he and Boatright have a few ground rules: They discuss most acquisitions as a team, especially when out shopping together at flea markets, and try to only start collections that can hang rather than gather dust on a shelf, like the religious iconography wall they’re working on in the bedroom. “The house is our greatest collaboration, and it’s made it easier for us to compromise and work together,” says Mead, who moved in with Boatright a year ago after serving as her cross-country coach at Pratt in 2009. “Actually sometimes we collaborate too much on the apartment when we could probably be spending that time doing some really great creative projects together.”
That said, joint professional projects are definitely in the cards, a turn of affairs Mead actually does credit to cohabitation. So far, the couple’s worked together on a mobile they created for Sight Unseen’s New Useless Machines exhibition at last year’s Noho Design District, a confection for the recent Caked Up show Mead co-produced, and a video they made of exploding Jell-O for a local Jell-O molding competition. “We got so pissed at each other while we were making it,” says Mead. “But in the end it was so funny, we don’t know why it didn’t win.”
Harry Allen is a happening guy. From his design studio in New York’s East Village, he makes ironic banana bowls and pig banks for Areaware and is one of only three American designers working with the hip Italian furniture brand Skitsch, along with Jason Miller and Todd Bracher. His new Bang perfume bottle is all over the ad pages of major fashion magazines, strategically positioned atop a nude Marc Jacobs, and the skateboarding store Supreme owes its interiors to him. Allen is so evergreen, in fact, that it’s easy to forget the most basic fact of his biography: He’s been doing this for nearly 20 years. “Everyone treats me like I’m some kid, but I’ve been around for a long time,” he says. “When I started in 1993, there was no Moss, no Wallpaper. Philippe Starck was king, and everything was shaped like a horn. I looked at Europe and thought: That’s what I want to be, I want to be like Starck. I want to be Starck.” But while he did follow that model when he set up his own design studio in 1993 — as opposed to joining a corporation like most of his American peers were doing at the time — part of the reason Allen’s presence in the design world always feels so fresh is that unlike Starck, he's constantly reinvented himself along the way.
Sighted on Design Milk: A Friday Five interview with the intriguing Icelandic designer Sruli Recht, whose studio is "a small cross-disciplinary practice caught somewhere between product design, tailoring and shoe making," it writes. In the story, Recht shares five of his materials inspirations, including the chest of an Atlantic Seabird given to him by a leather tanner.
When Mason McFee and Jessica Clark decided to name their new company Crummy House, referring to their own charmingly ancient one-bedroom rental in Austin, Texas, it was mostly out of admiration rather than denigration. Sure, the paint is cracked in places, the garage has an uneven dirt floor, and in the winter, the cold night air blows through with no regard for shuttered windows. And it was a bit of an inconvenience when, two months after they moved in, an old tree fell directly onto McFee’s car. But with two desks in the living room, a workshop in the garage, and the kitchen basically converted into a studio, the house has become a kind of creative haven for the couple — a getaway from McFee’s responsibilities as an art director at the ad agency Screamer, and Clark’s as a graphic design student at Austin’s Art Institute. They spend weekends making art there, side by side, and with Crummy House they’ll start their first true collaboration.