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Renate Müller at R & Company

Renate Müller is 68 years old and has been designing children's toys for half a century, some of which she created for her family's toy factory in Sonneberg, Germany, in the '60s and '70s, and the rest of which she still makes by hand in her nearby studio, as part of the personal line she began in 1978. The materials she uses for that line have stayed exactly the same ever since (jute, wood, leather), as has her process and her policy of working alone, save for the occasional hand lent by her daughter. Many of her animal typologies have remained perennial, too. Yet when it came time to create 26 new pieces for her second solo show at New York design gallery R & Company, which opened yesterday, Müller decided to bust out a pretty major — and amusing — twist: Surrealist creatures with two heads, or no heads, that only someone with a very vivid, childlike sense of imagination could possibly dream up.
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That Larson ever studied fashion design at all is serendipity: “I actually wanted to go to school for interior design, but when I went to interview at my college, the advisor looked at my outfit, and was like, ‘Are you sure that you want to do that? Don’t you want to enroll in the fashion program?’ I was like, “’Sure. Why not?’” Shown here in her apartment, Larson wears an outfit of her own design and typical of her style.

Annie Larson, knitwear designer

If you follow Annie Lee Larson’s Instagram — and chances are good that you do, considering the New York knitwear designer’s followers almost tip into the five digits — you might envision that she lives in some Peter Halley-meets-Memphis–inspired fantasyland, all primary colors, geometric patterns, and kitschy throwback accessories (hello Bananagrams!) But the truth is, Larson’s 5th-floor East Village walk-up doesn’t appear all that crazy upon first glance. A pretty but small, light-filled, plant-friendly apartment, the place is largely decorated in black and white, save for a trio of painted shelves where Larson keeps her most prized possessions, and a one-two punch of colorful striped and polka-dot bedding. It’s only upon closer inspection (and I mean, really close, considering Larson’s love of miniatures) that her oft-photographed influences begin to reveal themselves — dice, Swatch watches, Japanese toys, and ’80s electronics among them.
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