This year marks 16 years as Editor in Chief of magazine for Cindy Allen, who has spent that time well championing the field’s up-and-coming designers right alongside the prominent and established ones. Besides bringing the best of interior design to the magazine’s pages every month, she has also published nine books on design and produced over 70 short documentaries on various designers. If the monthly issue isn’t enough, you should follow her on Instagram () to check out her beautifully curated feed, which also gives viewers the occasional peek at what goes on behind the scene at the magazine. See what inspires Allen in this Friday Five.
1. Erwin Hauer, Sculptor
When the book, Erwin Hauer – Continua – Architectural Screens, landed on my desk a decade ago, I became obsessed with the Austrian sculptor and his modular large-scale screens. I made several visits to Hauer’s treasure trove of a barn/studio in Connecticut (near Yale where he taught under Josef Albers until 1990), and in 2008 had the honor of inducting him into the Interior Design Hall of Fame. Erwin’s designs are as relevant today as ever, and he’s experiencing somewhat of a resurgence (teaming up with former student Enrique Rosado), having designed leathers for Spinneybeck and screens for Knoll. To me, he is a living icon, and the most lovely and gentle man.
2. Ronald Clyne, Graphic Designer
When I first met my hubby Marino 20 years ago, he lived in an amazing modernist townhouse in Brooklyn Heights owned by Ronald Clyne. Ronald’s duplex apartment was to die for: hardcore minimalist interiors, huge abstract modern paintings, museum quality oceanic art, and his own designs of an estimated 500 record covers for the Folkways label! He created all the artwork by hand—typography, layout, and images—and every jacket cover perfectly represented the traditional or contemporary music from around the globe inside. We spent loads of time together talking shop, design, and tales behind those amazing covers. The original collection is now part of the Smithsonian, but Ronald generously gifted Marino and me with roughly 100 original prints, and we just recently had them all framed! Ronnie is no longer alive, and we feel so lucky to have known such an extraordinary talent, and now have this amazing collection to enjoy and always remember his brilliance.
3. The Year of Knots by Windy Chien
Windy always jokes that she had three lives: the first, owning a hipster record store, the second, working at iTunes for Apple, and now, using her hands to create art out of a simple material: rope. Her story—so inspiring—goes something like this. At 50, Windy decided to ditch her successful, corporate career to live her creative dream. She rented a studio, got to work, and almost instantly, became an Instagram sensation with her project “The Year of Knots,” where she taught herself a new knot every day and posted about it online. She just finished a 2nd edition of “Year of Knots” at Facebook for the Artist-in-Residence program (@fbairprogram). Windy is a real inspiration, for not only taking a big risk to follow her true path, but utilizing her past experiences to create a brand in almost a snap of her fingers, or a twist of a knot!
4. Monica Castiglioni Jewelry
Monica grew up completely immersed in design, with her father being Achille Castiglioni, designer of the Arco Lamp, who taught her to “absorb and do what you like!” Jewelry designer, sculptor, photographer, she is always experimenting with new mediums, from metals to 3D-printing, with bronze being her most cherished material. She creates experimental, organic shapes that resemble abstract flowers and even sea monsters (in a good way!), and most pieces become either one-offs or limited editions. Her creative brain is always churning, and she jokes she can’t herself stop from making! Her time is split between her hometown, Milano, and her new home, Brooklyn, having just opened up a store on Court St. Ever since I met Monica in Milan, her jewelry has become a staple for me because I wear her designs almost every day. Friends and colleagues identify ME with her jewelry—like a pair of silver cuff bracelets I hardly ever take off!
5. Interior Design August Art Issue Cover
Every month, somewhat in jest, I say my team and I make a baby! The process of creating a magazine gives me such enormous satisfaction, culminating with that one impactful, inspiring, and memorable cover shot. This heavenly installation inside an abandoned building in England made the coveted spot and was designed from…you’ll never guess…cardboard. Studio Lazarian created 15 10-foot-high pods at the Cotton Exchange in Blackburn. I was wowed by the transformation of the humble material into modern organic shapes striated in custom hues. Their curves and colors echo the ceiling of the building and emit a divine light that beckons people to enter. This cover tells us everything we need to know: design and art, especially when masterfully mingled together, have the ultimate power to transcend. Now that’s inspiring!