Like most artists, I find inspiration in all manner of places. These are my ultimate design classics, that inspire me (and why)...
01. The Eames Lounge chair
I first sat in this chair when I was about 10 years old. It was the first moment when I realised that everyday objects were actually designed, and that changed my life in many ways and started a life-long love affair with mid-century furniture design.
There is something incredibly beautiful about design that is both aesthetically pleasing as well as practical and comfortable. There is nothing in the Eames Lounge chair that is superfluous. Everything is thoughtful and beautifully crafted.
02. Omafiets (Dutch Grandmother bike)
Growing up in Amsterdam, these bikes were so common that I used to take the design of them for granted. It wasn't until I moved to NYC and started riding around the city that I realized just how special this bike is.
From the compliments I get on an almost daily basis, to the simple design features that make city bike riding comfortable and practical, I love it. The protective covers on the rear tire enable you to cycle comfortably in the rain, and the lowered frame makes getting on and off the bike in a skirt or long jacket a breeze. Plus the elevated steering wheel enables you to weave in and out of traffic without having to physically turn your head.
This bike has been completely optimized for city commuting and is the single most important design piece of my daily routine.
03. NYC Subway poster from Massimo Vignelli
When I was in grad school, I called Massimo Vignelli's design studio (he was in the phone book) to send me a copy of this iconic piece of design. When I didn't get a response, I spent days hunting around eBay to get an original copy of this 1972 subway map and it now hangs in my home studio.
The beauty lies in its simplicity – the lines run at 45 and 90 degree angles only, which turns the organically messy subway system into a stylised utopian plan of New York.
04. Old Northwest Airlines logo
I'm not a logo-head by any means but when a friend of mine asked me if I could see why the (old) Northwest logo was amazing, I took a close look at it. I realised that the typography not only stylised the 'N' and the 'W', but the angle of the logotype also isolated a little arrow that actually points to the North-West.
It's one of those subliminal things you don't see right away (like the arrow in the FedEx logo) but once I discovered it, I was truly blown away. It made me want to be there in the room when they finally 'got it right'.
05. Marcel Breuer's Wassily Chair
I spent months hunting down this chair on Craigslist but, since I was in grad school and didn't have much money, I wasn't able to pay the hefty price tag. After typing in keyword after keyword and getting insanely high price tags, I decided to search for 'leather and metal chair' instead. Low and behold a post came up from a woman in New Jersey who was selling two original Wassily chairs for $200 total.
I convinced my friend to drive out to the middle of New Jersey and as we were driving into the MacMansion suburb I realised the seller probably had no idea that these chairs were iconic design pieces. When I walked in, she said, "my dad had these weird uncomfortable chairs in his office in Manhattan. I am sorry they are so ugly and uncomfortable, so if you would like to take them with you now, I will give them to you for $100."
My jaw almost dropped to the floor when she showed them to me among her drab interior of Crate and Barrel furniture. I took them home right away and never did tell her the real story behind the chairs. Some people will never be wowed by them and that's okay. Beautiful design isn't always practical or for the masses.
Irene Pereyra is half of New York-based design studio Anton & Irene, who will be hosting a workshop at Generate London on 20 September that will teach you how to quickly come up with a solution to a client brief, and create a convincing presentation that sells your idea, within just a couple of hours.
Anton & Irene will also talk about their experience on how to establish a good work/life balance while producing creative work for both.
This article was first published on 28 January 2015.