American Design Hot List 2016
New York, ashnyc.com
The up-and-coming interior design firm — run by Ari S. Heckman, Jonathan Minkoff, and Will Cooper — has quietly been developing an impressive furniture collection as well, marked by clean, almost Shaker-inspired lines.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
Will: American design, to me, is really about fusion. We are a country that is defined as a melting pot of culture — and our design is an extension of that. We don’t really have a set of rules to abide by or norms to adhere to; the influences come from places near and far. I do think we are a derivative culture and that is okay. Design today is both reactionary and derivative, with nuances that are relevant to culture as it stands now. Access to so much imagery via the internet, social media, etc. has made it increasingly difficult to be unique. On one hand, we have the most unabridged resource at our fingertips, but on the other, the over-saturation of information blurs the line of research and knowledge vs. observation and regurgitation.
What excites us about American design is that it offers endless possibilities. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. We typically design out of necessity as opposed to designing for the sake of designing. The brief or problem presents itself in a project and we as a team tackle that and design from there.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
We have a lot of projects coming online in the coming year, which is very exciting. Our second hotel (following The Dean in Providence, RI) will open this summer in Detroit, MI. It has been a labor of love for the past two-plus years and we are excited to show everyone what we’ve been working on. It will have 106 rooms and four unique food and beverage spaces developed and designed by us.
We also have a very cool private residence coming to the eyes of the public next year — over three years in the making with the most wonderful client. It was a full gut renovation and design of a beautiful space in an infamous neoclassical building from 1927 on the Upper East Side.
The last highlight we will share is the launch of several furniture and lighting pieces we have been working on for the past couple of years. Seeing as we have so many different disciplines under one roof, there is never a perfect time to launch something new. Alas, we are going to finally bite the bullet and share some new design pieces that will be for sale through us and select stockists.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
I always give them same answer for this: travel. It is a way to clear my head and make room for new ideas and influences. I am very fortunate to be able to travel abroad and see what other facets of the world are doing. Europe, in particular, is so old and storied that no matter where I find myself, my mind is racing and cataloguing everything I see and translating how it relates to what we are working on. I recently got back from a tour of England, Italy, France and Belgium and my head was spinning with fresh ideas as soon as I set foot in London. In today’s world, design is really a global enterprise and playing ball on the international field is an important part of what keeps our practice inspired and moving forward. There is something in the way that Europeans design that has a sort of nonchalance that doesn’t exist in the US. We are so constricted by code and regulations that the nuances that exist and are allowed in Europe don’t translate here. It is a constant struggle to artfully circumvent those structures and allow for a little chance to inform our design.