& Company Said
INSPIRATION | October 10, 2023 | By Saxon Henry
New Offerings in Furniture
We’re heading to High Point Market this week for our annual fall marathon of all things design! The last two posts highlight our events and one special book signing in case you missed them. We look forward to seeing everyone and have a feeling everyone is excited to see what’s new in our product lineup. We have an array of new offerings in furniture, so many of the pieces so special we wanted to give our Director of Furniture Aimee Kurzner a chance to fill our readers in about how she looks at design and how she realizes such remarkable pieces.
New Offerings in Furniture
Aimee Kurzner in a factory in Southeast Asia meeting with the craftspeople about furniture designs.
To illustrate the terrific interview we had with Aimee, we are highlighting some of the new furniture pieces you’ll see when you make it by our showroom in IHFC, Suite M110, at 209 South Main Street, along with a few bestselling pieces from years past. The former includes the Memphis pieces above and the Aster Chest below.
The Aster Chest, designed by Aimee Kurzner, is among our new offerings in furniture this fall.
C&C: When you approach a historical design like the Aster Chest, how do you go about modernizing the lines?
AK: It all begins with research. In particular with Aster, it was touring the grounds of Winterthur Museum, including the archives. There was a piece of furniture that resonated with me. I saw it on a high shelf and felt it had great bones, lines, details, etc., and I wanted to use it as inspiration for new development as a part of our license collection with the Winterthur Museum. For me, I loved the reeded legs and wanted to feature that particular detail on the new design.
The new Briallen Blue Demi-Lune Cabinet, designed by Aimee Kurzner, is covered in lacquered linen.
C&C: Tell us how you choose certain materials/finishes, such as the lacquered linen that is so popular with our customers.
AK: Material and finishes sometimes come before the design and sometimes after. The lacquered linen was a material I had seen first and thought I wanted to design a piece/collection using that material. That happens quite often for me. I may see a finish or material on an antique, or a new material for clothes or something other than furniture and think how I can use it for a collection in a new way. I’m always assessing our product line and working on fresh materials or finishes. This also goes for when I design accessories and lamps. It’s important to be able to design across product lines with a material to be able to tell a story, especially with a new product launch for the company.
The Maya Blue Credenza is among our new offerings in furniture this fall that has scene-stealing cast-brass hardware.
C&C: Your talent for creating interesting hardware that goes beyond the norm is stellar. When you are approaching a new piece of furniture that you know will handle stand-out door or drawer pulls, how do you test and measure what will end up on each piece?
AK: This is a great question. I remember a commercial where a couple sits down in front of an architect, and they put a bathroom faucet in front of him and say, “Design a house around this.” I love this! The inspiration has to come from something/somewhere. Hardware for me is a very important part of the design. Sometimes I start with the hardware and other times it’s the last finishing detail I choose. It must complement the product and also be highly functional. I am always thinking of how a person sees and uses the piece. If the material is fragile, I don’t want them to have to touch it, so I will add a knob or pull to keep the material from being compromised. If I want the material and design to be the focal point and I feel no hardware is needed, I typically use a push to open drawer slide or door mechanism. As far as measuring, I always review it via a scale drawing. Currey’s furniture program highlights statement pieces for the home. What better way to make a statement than a custom piece of hardware that acts as a piece of jewelry (necklace, earrings, etc.) for the item.
They Maya Blue Console Table is one of the pieces in our blue color story this fall.
C&C: We have a blue color story going on this fall. Where do you look to find what you see as future trends you will highlight?
AK: Everywhere! My travels for certain. Also, our extensive library in Atlanta, and magazines for vintage and new ideas. We also utilize Fashion Snoops for trend insight. They provide great content and I love seeing their reports on fashion, home, and color trends. There are many moments when I know a color is on trend, but I am uncertain of its acceptance on furniture, an example being Kallista in the blue sapphire finish. I knew at the time that navy and black were trending for clothing, but I had to ask, “How do I translate that to a piece of furniture, and will it be successful?” These are the chances we take at Currey. I am fortunate to design/work for a company that is supportive of these chances. Not all will be successful, but I’m so glad we have the opportunity to try.
The Karlson Faux Vellum Credenza with its dynamic painting created by Aimee Kurzner.
C&C: The Karlson Faux Vellum Credenza is one of C&C’s bestseller after being introduced years ago. How did you dream up such a painterly pattern?
AK: Great question. I recall seeing vellum cladded/wrapped furniture in the marketplace during my travels to factories in Southeast Asia. I wanted to utilize the material but in a different way than what I had seen. Traditionally, the vellum is used in a natural state to highlight the material’s natural beauty or it’s stained a color to showcase the character even more. My idea/thought was, how do we capture the beauty of the material, make it our own, and have some consistency for production. I decided to create a piece of artwork that we would paint or screen-print on the vellum using a single color, black. You would have the consistency of the pattern but all the character variation because of the natural vellum material and absorption of the pattern on the vellum. My painting is the abstract cross-section drawing of a kiwi fruit. I drew it by hand first, then put it into photoshop and asked the factory to transpose it to the velum. Our first one-to-two production runs of this item are quite special and unique, and very different than how we manufacture the item today. We faced some challenges with the natural vellum material and adhesion to the wood panels. To continue to produce this item without the quality issues we were having, we implemented a trade secret and now use a faux vellum. It utilizes specialty production here in the U.S. and in Indonesia to create this item today.
The Dorian Credenza is among our new offerings in furniture this fall.
C&C: There is a tailored feel to the cabinets, chests, and credenzas you create. How did you develop such a sense of refinement?
AK: I believe that refinement comes from experience, and from honing your craft and skills. It truly takes trial and error, constant learning, and a good eye—when I say trial and error, I mean having the hands-on experience of making/building products, learning materials, installing, troubleshooting, etc. Constant learning from time and investment in the craft and industry are super important. It’s also the ability to put the two together. I’ve always been a hands-on designer/artist. I loved sculpture class which I took well before I built a piece of furniture. In design school at the time, we had to build every product we designed. I also worked in a woodshop for almost four years after design school, building custom furniture. This experience was invaluable. When you are hands-on, you learn what materials can and cannot do very quickly. This is the trial and error. It’s very much like an architect understanding how “parts” go together structurally but also beautifully.
The Acea Gold Accent Table is among our new offerings in furniture this fall.
C&C: A number of our new fall accent tables with cast glass tops and hammered metal surfaces. What inspired these pieces?
AK: Cast glass or “thick glass” is very much on trend right now. It was everywhere when I walked tradeshows overseas the past year and a half. We also saw it at the factories. For Currey, I knew we wanted designs using this material but how can we make it look like Currey? Given our lighting has been known for the beautiful forged iron and hammered looks, I wanted to marry the forged look and cast glass for a new furniture collection, which is called Acea. The Acea items are forged aluminum with cast glass. The waviness of the cast glass and forged metal pair well.
The Selene Accent Table in a mix of Crème marble and iron in a polished brass finish. Link Image
C&C: The array of accent tables you design have a wide range stylistically. How do you decide what makes the cut each season and how do you think about the mix?
AK: To make that cut: that is decided amongst a larger group than myself. Currey aims to offer a variety and breath to our customers. This concept of variety and something different is what is constantly driving my ideas for the accent furniture program. In today’s marketplace, accent tables are a dime a dozen and have been for a long time. What Currey has to offer is that approximately 95% of our accent tables (and all furniture) is designed in-house. This means we have put pen to paper or drawn it in computer software so that customers are getting an original. A tapered leg is not original but it’s the material, size, scale, position, and finish that will make it unique.
The Kallista Taupe Credenza is among our new offerings in furniture this fall.
C&C: Ten out of 22 Cabinets and Credenzas on the website are bestsellers. When you are designing furniture, do you consider what you think will become timeless designs?
AK: Honestly, you never know what a bestseller will be, or which products will become part of our core product line. I don’t know that I ever design with intention of a piece being timeless, but I do always try to be distinctive, such as intentionally adding details or design elements that can be considered timeless. I never would have thought the Briallen Black Demi-Lune would be a bestseller would be in the line for over six years, and now be offered in multiple finishes. I’m so happy it is but I never imagined it.
The Memphis Credenza, designed by Aimee Kurzner, is among our new offerings in furniture this fall.
C&C: The new Memphis pieces illustrate your talent at cladding furniture in veneers (as do the Sergio pieces, and the Kallista pieces). What are some of the challenges you find in working with veneers?
AK: We work with veneers and different materials to create artistic details and decorative patterns the same as artisans did hundreds of years ago. Marquetry techniques were first seen in ancient Egypt. Now, everyone is utilizing laser cutters to achieve the fine detailed patterns you see today. We have been using laser cutters for marquetry for over ten years. Many factories I have visited overseas have at least two laser cutters in their veneer departments. That said, though the laser is used to cut the shapes and patterns, it’s 100% the hand-work after that matters. Someone has to physically tape the pieces together to create the final design prior to adhering it to a substrate, as you can see in the image below.
An artisan in one of the factories in Indonesia taping veneer that will cover a piece of our furniture.
C&C: When you travel, are you always looking around to find inspiration? Can you give us an example with something you are working on now?
AK: Yes, constantly. My iPhone photo library is full of furniture, materials, colors, patterns, etc. In each photo, there’s a small detail I am drawn to and think I can use that small bit to design something new. Currently I’m working on two very different collections. One is a combination of black finished wood, bleached raffia, and brass. The other is high gloss eucalyptus paired with circular mirrors and brass. This was inspired by my trip to Paris in 2022.
Look Forward to Seeing You During Market!
Aimee Kurzner, our Director of Furniture who drives our expanding offerings in this category.
When you stop by and see us during Market, your reps will have been fully versed on the ins and outs of the new furniture designs, and Aimee will be there as well if you want to ask her your own questions about her design prowess!