If the deluge of social media surrounding last week's Brimfield Antiques Show is any indication, people are still committed to—and excited about—buying bonafide Americana. The outdoor flea market has been a reliable source of vintage goods for the past 54 years, but if you're looking for brand-new American-made design, you might want to head to Design Within Reach. The design retailer and manufacturer—best known for selling classic pieces by Marcel Breuer and the Eameses—has been busy commissioning new pieces from talented designers like Jeffrey Bernett, Sean Yoo, and Rich Brilliant Willing.
Most recently, DWR introduced the Helix coffee and side tables in its private-label collection. The handsome, sculptural brass and walnut pieces also mark the debut of Atlanta-based designer Chris Hardy, who received rave reviews for the series during NY Design Week. Hardy is a graduate of Detroit's College of Creative Studies and Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Master of Design program, and his approach is informed by experience working with Chinese factories, as well as a belief that design can be a reflection of a larger cultural purview.
"[For Helix], I was inspired by the challenge of personalization in the modern world and the increasing desire we have to own objects that match our own styles and philosophies in the way that art does," Hardy explains. He applied DWR's request to make brass and walnut the primary materials by creating an asymmetrical table base with brass castings to anchor walnut legs, forming a geometric structure that looks different from every angle.
Hardy even considered the manufacturing and unboxing process from the outset. "I realize that this is something that's going to be in someone's home, that there's a relationship that people have with their furniture," he says. Right out of the box, the table's setup is straightforward and intuitive—no tools required. "I was looking to strike a balance between efficiency and character. It starts the relationship off on a good note."
Up next, Hardy's working on a new modular storage collection for DWR, available in 2014. "Design is a flowing, growing process," he says. "What you learn in one project, you bring into the next. Someone might look at it as being a bunch of different pieces, but there's an evolution."
—LinYee Yuan. Follow her at @linyee