One of the things we love so much about the website Core77 is that it makes the very wide, sometimes dry world of industrial design feel like such a small, warm, tight-knit community; it's all that insider info, combined with a jovial, conversational tone and a knack for rounding up essays and other up-close-and-personal content from so many great design voices. We're all about the up-close-and-personal here at Sight Unseen, so we love it every time Core starts a new series devoted to things like entrepreneur profiles and Proust questionnaires; their newest column — called, simply, the Core77 Questionnaire — is only two subjects old, and we're already looking forward to finding out what the designers we admire love and hate about their job, how they procrastinate, and where they see themselves in 10 years. Last week's interview was with an old SU mainstay, the Brooklyn furniture and product designer Paul Loebach, whose responses we've excerpted here for your reading pleasure.
Once or twice a year, Brooklyn furniture designer Paul Loebach gets out his straw hat and bandana, ties on a pair of crappy old sneakers, drags out his huge canvas tote, and drives up to Massachussetts, where dealers from all over the Northeast gather every spring, summer, and fall for the Brimfield Antique Show.
Two hundred years ago, when American pioneers were streaming across the country making homes for themselves in the uncharted wilderness, anyone who needed a corn grater or a mouse trap had to knuckle down and make one. “Everyone was a designer,” says Paul Loebach, who’s long been fascinated by such primitive, purpose-built objects, typically hand-carved in wood or crudely forged in metal. “Whereas Europe had a network of goods trading, for the settlers it was like, we’re limited to these five square acres. They had to be really clever to make the most out of what they had, and that kind of ingenuity is inspiring to me.” Already knowing this about the Brooklyn designer after interviewing him last November, Sight Unseen invited him to choose his favorite objects from the 1972 book American Primitives, which we found at an Ohio flea market for $2 and which contains several dozen annotated selections from Norris, Tennessee’s Museum of Appalachia.