Perhaps it’s true that I’m the last to learn about the Brooklyn based furniture company Hellman-Chang, but as they say, better late than never. I was introduced to Daniel Hellman and Eric Chang at the What’s New What’s Next event last week, at which they extended an invitation to visit their showroom/office/workspace. My favorite design aficionado Connie Lee, with her signature raven blunt-cut, graciously agreed to join me. The gents wanted us to see their first chair design, which is being added to the showroom collections this coming January. I know I’m given to superlatives, but this is one gorgeous chair, and I’d like to tell you why.
By now you’re wondering about the Julie Andrews Victor~Victoria reference. It’s because my first reaction to the Avery Chair was to think it overtly sexy in two directions. I was struck by the masculine, hard-edged, machine-cut lines, and then I noticed the feminine taper of the sculpted bevels. Truth is, this is a chair within a chair, male and female, and both are fully articulated. What’s even more remarkable about this design is how that duality clearly mimics Daniel and Eric’s young firm. I think most of us in the interior design industry would agree that being a successful creative who’s possessing of a stealth business acumen is a rare find. These gentlemen have both qualities in spades, and it shows in their aesthetic as well as in the way they operate. Beyond great design there’s distinct brand messaging from catalog to finish samples, they’ve set up a co-operative environment so that the craftsman can work on their own designs on off hours, and they have software that generates proportionately correct photographic illustrations (from several angles) for those who wish to see one of the firms designs customized. It also bares noting that from their unexpected and meteoric start on the heals of Interior Design Magazine’s Best of Year Design Award 2006, the firm has successfully scaled from a 12′ x 14′ workspace into an 11,000 square foot wood working atelier.
After a fascinating tour of the work space, I asked Eric (who the team agrees is more the creative) to explain the design process which culminated in this their first piece of seating.
“We wanted the Avery Chair to be a beautiful stand alone chair… a sculptural, unique statement that could also conceivably be a low-profile, highly complimentary chair for nearly any dining table. Unlike most dining chairs on the market, in a group it doesn’t create a fence around – or compete with the dining table. It’s dynamic lines and scalloped facets were meant to work with our Z Round table, but we think it versatile enough to stand alone as an accent chair in a foyer, living room or with a writing desk. The sensuous curves and swooping surfaces really begged to be touched – like the sleek lines of an automobile – and heavily evoke movement despite being at rest. It took four years to create this chair as we did everything we could not to stray from the original design while perfecting the ergonomics. It’s a comfortable seat for a person of any size. One thing we realized after we finished: You can sit in it at any angle (sideways or straight) and it elongates the body and makes anyone who sits in it look and feel sexy.”
As I mentioned, the Avery Chair will be available to the trade in showrooms in early January. It’s also a simple subway ride 7 stops from Union Square. I for one wouldn’t wait. Connie and I were also treated to a preview of their first upholstered sofa. I think it’s safe to say 2013 is going to be a very good year for Hellman-Chang.
Hellman-Chang 509 Johnson Avenue Brooklyn New York 11237 212-875-0424