Designer of the Day: Studio Gorm

The Oregon-based duo on reinterpreting Shaker artifacts, improving everyday objects, and their latest project with Google Design.

The Oregon-based duo on reinterpreting Shaker artifacts, improving everyday objects, and their latest project with Google Design.

Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their lives.

Ages: Wonhee Arndt, 38, and John Arndt, 42

Occupations: Designers and professors

Hometowns: John is from Hartland, Wisconsin, and Wonhee is from Incheon, South Korea.

Studio location: Eugene, Oregon

Describe what you make: We design furniture, lighting, household objects, exhibitions, and interiors.

The most important thing you’ve designed to date: The project Furnishing Utopia: Shaker Design Reinterpreted. This involved inviting a group of international designers together to study historic Shaker artifacts and to reinterpret them in a contemporary context. We worked closely with two historic Shaker sites: the Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock, Massachusetts, and the Shaker Museum in New Lebanon, New York. The project was shown in New York at Sight Unseen Offsite in 2016, and this year at the Stockholm Furniture Fair and Design Within Reach’s SoHo Studio. The group of designers has developed more than fifty design objects. Our studio designed a trestle table and bench, a rocking chair, a bar stool and a swivel chair, wooden baskets, and kitchen utensils.

The problem your work solves: We like to improve things that surround us on a daily basis so they’re more enjoyable to use and have around. Our designs are developed through a lot of prototyping and experimenting with materials.

A project you are working on now: We’ve been working with Google Design and Optimist as the creative director and design partners for SPAN 2017. SPAN is an annual design conference hosted by Google where designers, artists, technologists, and researchers get together to explore links across design, technology, and socially engaged creative practice. This year, SPAN locations include Pittsburgh (Sept. 14–15), Newcastle-Gateshead (Oct. 5), and Mexico City (Nov. 9). We designed the spaces and most of the objects and structures for each, including a lecture hall, café, and workshop structures where elements are modular for the ease of assembly.

What you absolutely have to have in your studio: Snacks, tea, music, sewing machines, materials, hand tools, and a workshop. Also lots of books and a couch for napping.

What you do when you’re not working: In summer we do a lot of hiking, camping, and looking for swimming holes. The rest of the year we are pretty busy with teaching and our studio practice. But we try to do as much traveling as we can, usually combining work and sightseeing.

Sources of creative envy: Dead: Jean Prouvé, Achille Castiglioni, and Vico Magistretti. Alive: Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.

The distraction you want to eliminate: TV shows.

Concrete or marble? Marble.

High-rise or townhouse? Townhouse.

Aliens or ghosts? Aliens.

Remember or forget? Forget (John). Remember (Wonhee).

Dark or light? Light.

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