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During a childhood spent in Cote'd'Voire and coastal Maine, Brendan Ravenhill was gripped by the functional beauty and rustic simplicity of working tools and wooden boats. Flash forward to college, first at Oberlin for a degree in sculpture, the RISD for industrial design. That love is evident in this simple tool with two magnets: one captures the bottle cap, the other holds opener to the fridge. Based in Los Angeles, Brendan's prolific output includes furniture, lighting and buildings (including a cool face-lift of Osteria La Buca). On his off time, he's doing what else? Building or playing in boats.
Los Angeles-based Brendan Ravenhill says he "chases simplicity"—deftly summing up his industrial-looking take on design. Childhood years in Cote d’Ivoire and summers in coastal Maine brought him an early love of the functional beauty of working tools and wooden boats. Then, before making his home in L.A.'s Echo Park, Brendan studied sculpture at Oberlin College in Ohio and industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design. Though he name-checks modernists such as Rudolph Schindler and Charles Eames, his biggest influence is much closer to home.
"My greatest inspiration comes from how things are made," Brendan says, and he loves taking tours of local factories and letting that environment lead to new ideas. Though he values L.A. for its "light, urban spread and Mexican food," the creative spark from area manufacturers ultimately keeps him on the West Coast. "It's an ideal place to live and work," he says. "And an exciting place to get things built."
From Williamsburg's cobblestone streets, Brooklyn-based Areaware straddles the line between functional and humorous in a standout range of products for everyday life. Founder Noel Wiggins comes from a long line of artists but ultimately found he himself going a different way. "I come to it from a kind of problem-solving idea. Painting, honestly, wasn't collaborative enough for me," he says. "You have to be a really kind of solitary person to be an effective painter."
With his roster of contributing designers, Wiggins nurtures both emerging and established talent with an eye for realizing objects that are both thoughtful and practical. And Areaware is always on the search for new voices, sponsoring student initiatives at New York's Parsons The New School of Design and Rochester Institute of Technology. Recognized by the likes of Fast Company, Dwell andVanity Fair, the collection includes signature items from Harry Allen, Brendan Ravenhill and David Weeks, among others. "We believe that appreciation for beauty is central to what it means to be alive," Wiggins says. "And we want to embody this principle in even the simplest things."