If you happened to step into the new Orior showroom during New York Design Week, you were rewarded with a serious feast for the senses — plush, vibrantly colored velvets, deep green marbles and glossy woods, all of it showing the mark of impeccable craftsmanship. Here was Atlanta, a sinuous cobalt-blue sofa wearing a tasseled skirt, and Nero, a glossy oak table with a Brutalist marble base. There was Mara, a walnut and marble credenza fronted by varicolored leather doors, and Futurist, a muscular couch whose tomato-red leather cushions sit atop ebony legs. This, you realized, was furniture with personality, and the coolest thing coming out of Ireland by a mile. So where exactly did it come from?
Architect Jeff Shelton has spent his career re-contextualizing the streets of Santa Barbara, California. Whether for residences, businesses, or — soon! — public infrastructure, amidst the endless white “Spanish-style” buildings that define the city, Shelton's whimsical reimagining of the familiar plaster forms stand out. Squiggly purple metalwork, psychedelic patterns, irregular voids, curiously slumped volumes, and unconventional glasswork create structures that, while remaining distinctively Santa Barbara, are also unquestioningly his own.
The pandemic may have prevented us from hosting our Offsite show this year, but we didn't want to entirely abandon our role as a platform for supporting the work of independent designers — especially since they haven't let it stop them from coming up with brilliant new ideas, even without a physical fair to debut them at. So for 2021, we decided to curate a special collection of furniture and accessories by 16 contemporary designers and launch it for sale exclusively on 1stDibs, starting today.