Jul 01, 2020

Tantuvi’s new “Travertine” collection of rugs. Photo: Charlotte Taylor & Victor Roussell.


Creative Humans: Meet Tantuvi.


By Hello Human.


Here at The Humanist, we’re jazzed about introducing you to Tantuvi, the New York-based rug and textile studio that produces heirloom pieces made by seventh generation dhurrie weavers of North India. Tantuvi is a sustainable design business offering the global marketplace great design made possible through community engagement and economic empowerment.

We support Tantuvi for its sustainable, fair and equitable working environment where weavers are celebrated and treated with respect for their essential role in the business.

We also love Tantuvi for its ultra chic, cool-kid aesthetics, made in traditional techniques of hand-spun, dyed, and woven cottons and silks of the Eastern Ghats and Rajasthan. Check out Circles and Rose Malachite as witness. Founder Arati Rao is also a radical designer; she started this company, after years in corporate fashion design, to shift the paradigm of collecting design and elevate the value of Indian artisans in the consumer consciousness. Central to the ethos of Tantuvi is also to connect and empower a community wherein Rao has roots.

Recently we linked up to announce the launch of “Travertine,” a new collection of rugs made from cotton and recycled silk inspired by Rao’s travels in collaboration with her partner, the artist Adam Sipe. The color palettes take from the desert landscape and the dramatic beauty of alpine mountains. Modern luxury meets craftsmanship of hand-woven tradition.

Arati Rao, Tantuvi’s Founder & Creative Director. Photo: Ori Harpaz.


 
An assortment of Tantuvi rugs. Photo: Courtesy of Tantuvi.


Name

Tantuvi


Company Founded

2010-2012.

It’s tricky to specify exactly.
In 2010, I spent the year in India working towards what would eventually become Tantuvi.


Location

New York


Website

https://tantuvistudio.com/

Company Profile

Tantuvi, reimagining what hand-made in India can be, while creating contemporary heirlooms for your space. Our work is produced using India’s vibrant heritage techniques. We design our rugs with an artistic and thoughtful approach to build meaningful relationships.





Tantuvi’s Fragments rug on the Panja loom. Photo: Courtesy of Tantuvi.

What makes you get up and design every morning?
I wish I was designing every morning! Sadly, it’s weekly, if that. My day-to-day at the moment is working on special projects and working with our production team in India. There is a lot going on at the moment, so we are planning for future changes that impact our artisans that will allow us to better serve that community.

Is it the problem or the solution that fuels your design practice?
I think both. It depends on what I am working on. You can approach the project or design process either way.

What’s your spirit material?
Marble and raw silk

A design/art/architecture project that you always return to for inspiration?
Jantar Mantar in Jaipur that was built between 1724 and 1730. It never gets old!

Three words that describe your practice
Considered, Patient, Playful

What does the future of design look like to you?
I think there has already been a bit of a shift, but myself and the design community at large will have to be more considerate of materials and the impact of our work within the communities we produce in. I’m also thinking about what effects our ideas and work will have on the environment and people as well.

How do you use design for good?
All our rugs and textiles are hand-woven. Our process from procurement to weaving is hand-done. On top of that, there also are no wasted materials in this process. In addition to how Tantuvi operates, we also have a village fund to further support community projects within the weaving villages we work in that produce our rugs.



Inside the office of the Master Dyer who Tantuvi works with. Photo: Courtesy of Tantuvi.

Jul 09, 2020

Ladies & Gentlemn Studio’s “Myrna Wall Mobile” mounted light Photo: Robin Stein.


Creative Humans: Welcome Ladies & Gentlemen Studio.


By Hello Human.


Here at The Humanist, we’ve been eager to introduce the ever-inventive Ladies & Gentlemen Studio as they unveil their new “Lightscape Candle Holder,” a project six years in the making, emerging from the studio’s study of light. Designers/co-founders Jean Lee and Dylan Davis considered forms of natural and artificial light, and how they play with their surroundings to create shadow, lightness and darkness. An inquiry of light, a result of visual poetry.

This limited-edition series strips back the fundamental expectations of form leaving only one source of light: a single flame. Sacred and eternal, and with an eye to the future. Ultimately, this study has shaped the studio’s practice, impacting their process and aesthetic in lighting, allowing them to create work with more depth and meaning.

Chances are you’ve come across Ladies & Gentlemen’s holistic design practice driven by curiosity and wonderment. As a design studio, they embrace “complementary opposites like warm minimalism, playful austerity and simple sophistication.” They call Design Within Reach, Herman Miller, Roll & Hill, Heath Ceramics, Shinola, Rockwell Group all clients. Similarly, their work has been published in global publications from Architectural Digest, T Magazine, Wall Street Journal, World of Interiors, Elle Decor, Wallpaper* and many more. The studio's motto is “to always stay curious and never stop exploring.”

Dylan Davis and Jean Lee, Ladies & Gentlemen Studio’s co-founders at work. Photo: Courtesy of Ladies & Gentlemen Studio.


 Lightscape Candle Holder. Photo: Courtesy of Ladies & Gentlemen Studio.


Name

Ladies & Gentlemen Studio


Company Founded

2010 


Location

Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY


Website

https://ladiesandgentlemenstudio.com/

Company Profile

L&G Studio's explorative spirit is a blend of resourceful curiosity with the desire to celebrate material & functionality. Our open, multi-disciplinary approach to design yields an ever-evolving set of ideas and experiments collected from everyday discoveries, explorations, and surroundings.





Ladies & Gentlemen Studio’s Shape Up 3 Piece Chandelier for Roll & Hill. Photo: Courtesy of Ladies & Gentlemen Studio.

What makes you get up and design every morning?
We originally started our studio because we wanted to practice design with a greater integration with our daily lives. This creates a continuity between our daily observations, rituals, and passions and the decisions we make as designers. We believe this can help facilitate a design approach that's honest, empathic and HUMAN (to tie it all in here)! This helps us in our mission to create work that serves as a meaningful, positive intermediary between people's intentions and actions.

Is it the problem or the solution that fuels your design practice?
Our design practice is fueled by a desire to be purposeful and intentional. In this regard, we avoid looking at the world in terms of problems and solutions because it can lead one down a very binary path. Life is circular and the design process should reflect this. Afterall, there are so many moments where designers created a "solution" that actually created far more problems than it sought to solve. On the other hand, there are so many examples where open-ended design projects were allowed to evolve and improve over time—beyond the designer's wildest dreams. If designers endeavor to be rigorous explorers and create with purpose and intention from a point of curiosity, we can all collectively create towards a better future with open hearts and minds. This approach is less about problem-solution and more about working from a point of care.

What’s your spirit material?
Light. We work with a lot of materials as part of our mission to always be curious, however, "light" as a material, concept, and experience is a recurring theme in our work. That can range from a literal lamp we design, where light is the critical material that interplays with the space, materials, and forms we choose, but it also extends to how we design spaces and experiences. Our work for “Furnishing Utopia,” which following a workshop at Hancock Shaker Village debuted at Sight Unseen Off-Site 2016, for instance, is intended to shed new light on the connection between contemporary times and history. While metaphorical, this form of "illumination" is part of our continual attraction towards light.

A design/art/architecture project that you always return to for inspiration?
The American Shakers are a continual source of inspiration for us because the objects they created were so well-integrated with their life intention. Everything they created was made with care, thought, and craft and done so with incredible simplicity, honesty, and grace. Their lives and work were deeply intertwined, and it therefore runs very deep, which makes them an ideal resource to return to again and again.

Three words that describe your practice
Elemental, intentional, and unexpected.

What does the future of design look like to you?
The future of the design industry and design practices as a whole must become more responsible and socially conscious in order to even have a reason to exist. Based on the current design industry, it simply isn’t sustainable for designers to continue creating work that further feeds over-consumption or throw-away culture. To do that, designers need to really think beyond monetary gains, and through the material world as a way to create “wealth,” and focus on more intrinsic values that can cultivate a new kind of richness that positively serves people, communities, and the environment.

How do you use design for good?
We believe designers should be facilitators, not dictators. Design's true purpose is to serve as an intermediary connecting people's intentions with their actions. When we begin any project, we center our approach from a point of active listening and observation. From there, we aim to contribute work that directs people towards greater engagement and participation in their environments. This means the best designs serve as a spark for others to be more present and thoughtful in their surroundings and actions, thereby adding to the design's impact themselves. With this framework, good intentions of the designer can be amplified by good intentions of others and this is where design can be a powerful agent of change. For much of the 20th and 21st century, designer's good intentions have been subverted for profit and oppression. When designers free themselves of that framework and engage more directly in who they serve, we can really help create a new reality on so many fronts.



Moire Mobile. Photo: Courtesy of Ladies & Gentlemen Studio.

Nov 04, 2020

Broached Commissions Goulder Chaise Lounge by Jon Goulder Photo: Courtesy of Broached Commissions.


Creative Humans: Introducing Broached Commissions.


By Hello Human.

Here at The Humanist, we’re pleased to introduce you to Broached Commissions, the Melbourne-based design and applied arts studio. To tell you about Broached is somewhat complicated, largely because the studio is difficult to place in the proverbial box. Are they a design studio creating functional furniture products that one could buy or specify for a project? Well, yes. But there’s more complexity to the Broached story, particularly as it relates to the studio’s unique approach whereby they (and their creative collaborators) take on the role of design researcher, design historian and even critique the role of design itself in the products they create. Their final pieces, which are always offered as museum quality limited editions have found themselves exhibited in such settings - most notably in their “Design Storytellers” exhibition last year at the National Gallery of Victoria.

So let’s just say for now, that Broached Commissions is a design studio with a rather distinct cerebral approach. One that is unapologetically antithetical and that won’t be put in a box.

We talk to Broached Commissions’ Creative Director Lou Weis and Design Director Laura Clauscen to find out more about what fuels their practice, their interest in materials and why the phrase “design for good” doesn’t quite resonate.

Broached Commissions’ Creative Director Lou Weis with Design Director Laura Clauscen in Vogue Living May/June 2020. Photo: Michelle Tran.


Broached Commissions Recall Monolith in production. Photo: Claire Summers.


Name

Broached Commissions


Company Founded

2011 


Location

Melbourne, Australia


Website

https://www.broachedcommissions.com/

Company Profile

Broached is a research and narrative-driven production house. We commission and create collectible design and provide creative direction for public art and interior commercial spaces, such as hotels and hospitality.

Our research interrogates how design has participated in the great events that have defined the modern world. We see design not as a tool for good, but as a diverse industry whose primary role is the aestheticizing of power. We create works that critique the role of design, especially its largely baseless claim to a progressive legacy. This preoccupation serves as a springboard for the development and materialization of deeply informative and intriguing objects, exhibitions and spaces.

Broached was founded in 2010 by Creative Director Lou Weis and includes Matisse Mitelman as Broached Business, Laura Clauscen as Design Director, Joseph Gauci-Seddon as Design and Lana Jones as Research and Development.





Broached Commissions Prickly Lamp by Lucy McRae. Photo: Lucy McRae.

What makes you get up and design every morning?
Our ideation starts with reading and writing. We do not start with design, we start with the context that drives design. We love, in equal measure, the complete abstract starting point of research and finalising a sale. The sale is validation for all the hard work.

Whilst our pieces are expensive we are motivated by sharing the stories that underpin our collections. Those stories are important to understanding how history informs the present.

Is it the problem or the solution that fuels your design practice?
We are not interested in solutions, indeed we feel that design’s obsession with claiming it can provide neat, smooth solutions is perpetuation of a delusion that has gripped the world; a life without problems...is impossible. You can’t design out the ugly, the horrible, the unfortunate. We try to address the undesirable in our designs. Prickly Lamp or Briggs Family Tea Service, or Recall are all examples of this.

What’s your spirit material?
At present - Victorian antique furniture, made from heritage timbers largely logged into extinction as part of colonial conquest during the 19th century. Just as manufacturers recall faulty goods, Broached is recalling precious and discarded materials from design periods that have fallen out of favour and is correcting them within a current aesthetic.

A design/art/architecture project that you always return to for inspiration?
-The striking productions of Italian theatre director and playwright Romeo Castelluci are an ever-present source of inspiration.
-The cinema of Paolo Sorrentino.
-The literature of Dostoevsky, Walter Benjamin, Proust, Mallarme and many many others.
-Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss.

Three words that describe your practice
Experimental, narrative-driven and polemical.

What does the future of design look like to you?
Like the past.

How do you use design for good?
We do not do design for good. We doubt design has broadly ever been put to this purpose. We do design to promote the raising of awareness of design’s true role, which is to give form to power.

Broached wants a world where we do as little harm as possible; create as little, use as little energy and materials from the earth to deliver work with focus and intensity. We want prosperity without growth.




Broached Commissions Pankalangu Cabinet by Trent Jansen. Photo: Dan Hocking.

Sep 02, 2020


Pitch Perfect: Jenny Nguyen, Founder of Hello Human.


By Hello Human.



Introducing

Jenny Nguyen, Founder of Hello Human.


Location

New York City.


Find me on

Instagram & LinkedIn

Clients & Collaborators

Airbnb, Art for Amnesty, Bottega Veneta, Domino Magazine, Frame Publishers, Kengo Kuma, Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, Robert Indiana, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s More Trees, teNeues, The Philip Johnson Glass House, Tantuvi, The Seaport District, Vogue Living, Yayoi Kusama and more.

In “Pitch Perfect” we tap Hello Human’s publicity pros and the PR experts we admire to share 5 practical PR tips, useful insights and experiences they’ve learned on the job, so small businesses can start implementing them today.

One piece of advice for a small business starting out with their own PR.
Know exactly what differentiates you and the work you do from the others.

Whenever an editor receives a pitch email for, let’s say a new chair, you can be pretty sure they’re asking themselves “nice chair, but why is this interesting?”

You may be launching the most on-trend, aesthetically pleasing chair ever. But to really grab the attention of an editor, there must be more to it than good aesthetics and beautiful materials if you want your chair stand out from all the other furniture being pitched to editors.

Ask yourself why you designed the chair, how you imagined it being used, even why you started your business in the first place before you pitch it to an editor. Chances are, you’ll land on what your differentiating factor is as you explore answers to these questions. When you spend time teasing out why your product or brand exists, by default you start to build a story behind it, and this is exactly what editors and writers are looking for.


What’s your latest big PR win and how did you get there?
A few weeks ago I achieved an exciting media placement for Articolo Lighting, a client I’ve been working with on publicity with for years (and more recently through the stellar brand strategy and marketing agency Neil Hugh Office).

Believe it or not, this story in The Wall Street Journal was nine months in the making, making its publication that much sweeter to see live online and in print. From first introducing the the writer to the client, brainstorming interesting story angles together, consistently providing value, insight and resources throughout the pitching process plus follow through at the right times, the takeaway here is that it takes patience, persistence, collaboration and a friendly disposition to make stories like this one happen.




PATTERN BOLDNESS. Fizi Table Lamps, from $2,350 for Short, from $2,250 for Tall, Articolo in The Wall Street Journal,
Story by Elizabeth Anne Hartman: “Lamps That Can Transform a Room as Dramatically as New Paint” Photo: Sharyn Cairns




Best tech recommendation for making your PR job easier.
Instagram. It’s free, and a game changer for PR pros. This is where I find out about stories and the people who write them. Instagram allows me to better understand what a writer’s special interests are, get a sense of their style and what’s culturally relevant to them, so that I can come to them with a pitch that they’d actually find compelling.

Instagram is also an excellent tool for building relationships from scratch. If I don’t have an editor’s contact details I’ll find them on Instagram first, write to say hello, introduce myself and establish why I believe it would be a good idea to stay in touch (i.e what kinds of clients/stories I’ll be pitching) and ask for their email address. This way, when a pitch does land in their inbox, it’s not the first time they are seeing my name, which always has a better outcome.


Best advice for leveraging PR wins.
Congratulations, you went from pitched to published! But remember, the work does not end here. You’ve come out with a beautiful piece of press about your project or business but you’ve also come out of this with a new relationship with an editor or journalist who has supported you through their storytelling. Say thank you! Not only is this good manners, it’s important to remember that PR is all about relationship building. Saying thank you on Instagram, by email or with a small gift only opens the door to more meaningful conversations later on. If you’re feeling the good vibes, why not invite them out for lunch, coffee or a studio visit and take the opportunity to tell them more about projects you have coming out?
Best PR advice you received from a mentor.
Sophia Chang is not a mentor (although I wish she would be). Chang is known for her career throughout the ’90s and 2000s managing talents including Ol’ Dirty Bastard (O.D.B.), RZA, and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, Q-Tip and A Tribe Called Quest, and D’Angelo. When she recently released her audiobook “Baddest Bitch in the Room” I came across her on the Recode Media podcast where she imparted some simple advice that really stuck with me.

“Just network” she says.

“Because the worst thing that can happen when you introduce yourself to a stranger is you might feel a little humiliated, but there’s no limit to how far the positive opportunities can go.” Chang also advises to always introduce yourself with your first and last name because you give yourself a sense of authority, confidence and as a result become more memorable. “It gets easier the more you do it,” she says.

This approach definitely worked for her! She arrived in New York from Vancouver as a French Literary grad, then had a chance encounter with Joey Ramone where she walked right up to him and said “You’re Johnny Ramone right? I’m Sophia Chang” - it was actually Joey Ramone but they ended up becoming friends anyway, through him she eventually met Paul Simon whom she worked for before becoming friends with Wu-Tang Clan - the rest is history and a rather convincing anecdote of how far simply introducing yourself to someone can get you.

So if I ever bump into Sophia on the streets of NY, i’ll say “Hey you’re Sophia Chang right? I’m Jenny Nguyen, I read your book! I do PR and I had some ideas you might find interesting, can we chat sometime?”

Who knows where things could go from there?


Oct 27, 2020


Pitch Perfect: Martha McNaughton, Founder of May Communications.


By Hello Human.



Introducing

Martha McNaughton, PR Consultant & Founder of May Communications.


Location

London.


Find me on

Instagram & LinkedIn.

Clients & Collaborators

Marc Wood Studio, Melissa + Miller Interiors, Aaron Probyn, State of Craft, Moose, Design Dialogue, Barney McCann, Juli Bolanos-Durman, Piebald Marketing, Beth Davies, Brand Story, Informare, Zosia Swidlicka and more.

In “Pitch Perfect” we tap Hello Human’s publicity pros and the PR experts we admire to share 5 practical PR tips, useful insights and experiences they’ve learned on the job, so small businesses can start implementing them today.

One piece of advice for a small business starting out with their own PR.
If you are a maker / designer then it’s worth investing in good lifestyle photography that you can use for PR and your social media channels. Good images are the difference between getting featured in the press or not. Spend some time reading the types of magazines you’d like to be featured in to see the stories and images that get published. This also doubles-up as a great exercise in competitor research also.


What’s your latest big PR win and how did you get there?
My first client win since I took the plunge to go freelance was the lighting designer Marc Wood, and I’ve been managing the PR for him since December 2019. Marc is London based and new to PR but with a product portfolio that deserves international recognition. In October this year we managed to secure two great pieces of coverage for the brand in leading US design publications - Surface and Interior Design’s upcoming Fall market tabloid - which has provided the perfect launch pad to present his designs to the US market. We have played the long game as is often the case in the world of PR but it’s great to see the efforts now pay off.

One lesson that I’ve learned along the way is that you can’t take a brand from 0-100 overnight and expect everyone to get as excited as you are about a story. The brands that deserve to get attention will, but it doesn’t happen instantaneously and requires a well-thought out strategy and a fair amount of patience. 


Marc Wood Studio’s Rosa Cluster 3-piece as seen in Surface,
Story by Ryan Waddoups: “Designer of the Day: Marc Wood” Photo: Courtesy of Marc Wood Studio




Best tech recommendation for making your PR job easier.
An obvious answer I’m sure but social media has been a game-changer these past few years. Hashtags such as #journorequest on twitter is a great way of knowing what stories journalists are working on that they need support with, and Instagram gives behind-the-scenes access to brands and journalists that can help with market research and creating personalised pitches.


Best advice for dealing with rejection.
Remember it’s not personal and that everyone has subjective taste. Just because a story doesn’t work for one journalist / publication doesn’t mean it won’t work for another.
Best advice for building relationships from scratch.
This is more of a challenge in today’s climate but social media is a great way to open doors. Follow the journalists, brands and industry stakeholders that you want to work with and get to know and engage with them online. I’ve often sent a journalist a DM when I didn’t have their email address and by being friendly and polite I’ve almost always got a positive response. That initial dialogue also helps when you do then get around to sending the email as they already know who you are.



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