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The Brooklyn-based interior design firm Home Studios has been slowly catching up to its name Tools & Accessories. The brothers behind it, Oliver and Evan Haslegrave, earned their reputation by outfitting some of New York’s coolest bars and restaurants (Elsa, Paulie Gee’s) with custom carpentry, tile work, lighting fixtures and furniture. Commercial commissions still make up the bulk of their operation — their latest project, a West Village pub called the Spaniard, opens this month — but they’ve begun to take on residences as well, and Oliver recently designed a line of objects and furniture called Homework, debuting in May.
His first collection, which includes a triptych of curved, asymmetrical mirrors, a silver-plated shelf and a smoky resin sconce, is both a natural extension of the studio’s work and an interesting departure from it Contemporary & Designer. “Alcohol notwithstanding, in a bar or restaurant our pieces are used in pretty specific ways,” Oliver says. “Maybe someone starts dancing on a table, but by and large it’s pretty scripted.” By contrast, the Homework pieces allow for a certain freedom, as utilitarian as they are: “Maybe you’ll reorient the mirrors, or separate them.” The shelf is intended for books — it comes with a cast-glass bookend, and Oliver, who was once an editor at Little, Brown, designed its dip to hold large-format art volumes — and yet, he points out Tops & Tees, it could easily display other objects, or even just serve as a wall installation. “In that way, it’s collaborative,” he says. “You can’t change what it is, but you can change how it gets used.”
It was her training as a fine artist that inspired Susan Hable to start a textile company with her business-minded sister Katharine 18 years ago. “I thought, ‘Oh, I can paint, and then translate that into a pattern and sell the fabric,'” she says. Her instinct was a good one: Hable Construction quickly became a design world darling, partnering with the likes of Barneys New York and Garnet Hill. Her recent foray into furniture was just as intuitive. In 2009, when Hable moved down south and started looking for local collaborators, she was immediately drawn to the century-old Hickory Chair Furniture Company Dresses, based in North Carolina and known for its dedication to craftsmanship and classic, antique-inspired pieces.
Hable started off designing Hickory’s first-ever exclusive textile line. Then, in 2012, when Hickory had an opening for a new furniture collection, she jumped at the chance to try her hand. She had always planned to move beyond a single medium, emulating the wide-ranging, multidisciplinary careers of the midcentury designers she most admires, from Gio Ponti to Jean Prouvé Petite. Moreover, she is an avid furniture collector who’s designed her home around spectacular finds: “Hickory’s creative director, Skip Rumley, came to my house once and said, ‘Yeah, this makes complete sense.'” Hable’s first collection was a bold move into the future for the traditionalist company. With her second, out this spring, she’s pushing things even further, mixing striking sculptural details borrowed from Italian and Scandinavian design with understated Shaker construction. “Those kinds of quirky pieces add balance to the very simplified ones,” she says, “like friends in a room at a party. And thank goodness everybody has different personalities, because it makes things more interesting.”
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