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Publication Date: 2012-01-16

Behind the Design

Q&A with Ana Meier and Charlie Ferrer

Ana Meier and Charlie Ferrer established MEIER/FERRER studio in Los Angeles in 2009, seeking to “re-imagine the modern aesthetic.”

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Meier, the daughter of renowned architect Richard Meier, has designed a unique line of what she calls “deconstructed” furniture that exudes a dynamic and off-kilter attitude. “Ana has a knack for achieving balance through asymmetrical relationships,” says Ferrer, who runs the studio’s operations. Here the pair discuss their approach to decorating a room, the power of rugs, and some of their favorite “romantic minimalist” pieces.

Q: What inspires your work?

Ana: At the moment, I am working on some new pieces inspired by the shapes of Art Deco. For the collection on Dering Hall, I was influenced by deconstructed furniture—specifically that of Gerrit Rietveld. The Rosemary and the RM are two deconstructed examples where the classic shape is pulled apart and then put back together in a new configuration.

The Rosemary Coffee Table

Q: You’ve described your aesthetic as “romantic minimalism.” Can you explain what you mean by this term?

Ana: “Romantic minimalism” refers to the union of contrasts in the work; the minimalist attitudes of the structure and the romantic gestures in materials and finishes.

Charlie: In the RM series, refinement is expressed in deliberate tailored lines and a tightly executed construction to join materials. Softness is articulated in finishes hand-applied to warmly toned woods. And sensuality exists in the open-grain walnut contrasted with the more dense grain of maple.

Q: Can you give me another example?

A: The work of ceramist Maren Kloppmann is about balanced subtlety and nuance. In the series Vessel II White Wall on Black, Kloppmann fashions shapes that are difficult to pin down. The volumes read as familiar but they don’t directly reference anything in the natural world. She applies fields of matte black and matte white to the walls of the vessels but neither glaze is uniform—each has a range of color variation and depth. Kloppmann successfully imbues a simple concept with layers of complexity, embodying romantic minimalism.

Q: If you were decorating a room, what other items from your storefront would you pair these pieces with, and why?

Charlie: I would match the Creighton chair—a design that activates the closed volume of an oak box with open frames of stainless bar—with the blue powder-coated floor lamp by Joe Columbo and a picture by Jed Ochmanek. Our chair is low slung and of considerable mass. The industrial Columbo lamp resolves the vertical dimension and brings a moment of definite color. An Ochmanek completes the vignette with texture and muted color.

The R Gormley sofa, a design defined by horizontal planes projecting from a central mass, pairs naturally with the ZOID coffee table in brass. The diagonals in the table base reference the sofa’s canted back. And the table’s brass patina is a perfect compliment to the walnut surfaces of the sofa. I would hang Gabrielle Ferrer’s (no relation to me!) Transparencies on the wall.

The Zoid

Q: How can people best work minimalist, graphic pieces into their interiors?
Charlie:
Graphic pieces like ours can effectively activate dead moments in an interior through juxtaposition or emphasis. You can juxtapose materials, lines, or styles—for example, contrast a soft neutral cotton linen with a dark metal in a dark finish, or place a primitive table next to a modernist chair. Or you can emphasize line, scale, or mass by placing a narrow linear piece in a long hall or breezeway, or a pair of monumental sofas in a gracious California living room.

Q: What’s the one element you should never skimp on in a room?

Charlie: A proper floor covering, though a bare floor is probably a safer bet than a hastily chosen rug or carpet. Rugs are a key opportunity to introduce texture and color, providing a visual and tactile break or transition between floor and furniture. They can be integral to a space. They bring comfort underfoot. And they’re often the largest color field in a room.

Q: You have a wide variety of lighting in your storefront. What are the qualities of a good light, lamp, or lantern?

Charlie: A good lamp should incorporate an aspect of versatility—whether a dimming function (like our Axon Floor Lantern) or an adjustable armature (like our Joe Columbo pieces). Available light conditions are always changing. Lighting, whether task or ambient, should be equipped to adapt.

Q: You manufacture all your furniture in Los Angeles. Is manufacturing close to home a value of your company?

Charlie: Absolutely. Manufacturing locally is important to us for many reasons. Foremost, it allows for rigorous oversight of the fabrication process, including the ability to work directly with our craftsman. We also have firsthand knowledge of working conditions and safety and environmental protocols. We feel strongly about supporting our local trades, and perpetuating a lineage of skilled American craftsman.

Christopher Broyles Woven Panel

Q: Any other items you’d like to call out from your storefront?

Charlie: Christopher Broyels woven panels are quite exquisite and dynamic in person. Christopher has been developing this idea methodically over the past five years and the result is a stunning display of artistry. I am very excited to see his next expression.

Q: What’s the best design advice you’ve ever received?

Ana: Stay true to your vision.

Charlie: To resist compromising where it matters. Having received this wisdom in different forms many times over, it is something we always practice, both when building furniture and resolving a room. You can truly elevate an interior by investing in a few choice uncommon pieces. When placed with intention, a handsome piece of furniture or an exquisite object can carry a room and distinguish a project. Though it can be costly, thoughtful, finely executed design endures.

—Jaime Gross

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