Scott Henderson is a Brooklyn-based designer, founder of design studio Scott Henderson, Inc., and co-founder of the design collective MINT. Scott’s work—from housewares to consumer electronics to furniture—has been shown in numerous exhibitions such as the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s National Design Triennial and is featured in more than 350 retailers and museums around the world. His work has also been included in The New York Times Magazine, I.D. Magazine’s Annual Design Review, and other prestigious publications.
Henderson’s Slat Chair, above, was prototyped by New Project and debuted at the ICFF in 2011. With ICFF returning to the Javits Center in 2 weeks, we decided to check in with Scott to see what he’s been up to lately.
NP: You’ve designed all sorts of products—from thermometers to furniture to yachts. What would be your dream design job?
SH: It would be fun to do something really big—like be on a team to figure out how to harness ocean waves to convert them into energy, or something like that. How about a huge terrarium that creates drinking water in arid developing countries?
NP: That does sound huge! Since you’re all about the “big idea,” what “big ideas” do you see changing or reshaping your industry?
SH: The Digital Revolution. Even though that kind of design work is different from my kind of design, the trend is all about the decimation of the physical. The biggest taxi company owns no taxis (Uber), the biggest movie house has no cinemas (Netflix), the biggest accommodations provider owns no real estate (Airbnb). There are also fewer real stores to buy things in, so instead of seeing and touching a real product, you are buying it based on an online thumbnail image. It’s hard to tell if a design is good or not with only that level of detail, so it makes sense that the importance of [physical] design is therefore diminished, and price competition once again becomes the sole driver of sales. This has reshaped my industry recently in that design now has to offer only what people deem as essential. Millennials don’t want things—they actually hate stuff. The age of the design knickknack is dead, and talking about emotion in design is yesterday’s pitch. Design now has to be about the essential. The trend is a return to problem solving and meaningful innovation.
NP: You run your own successful design studio and have developed your own brands, create your own artwork, have served as chairman of IDSA’s national conference…how do you make time to stay inspired and continue to generate new ideas?
SH: After a while it just becomes a part of who you are and no longer a job. As I tell my clients, Scott Henderson Inc. never closes.
NP: Does your design work come from a solitary or a collaborative process? Or a little of both? How do you like to work?
SH: A little of both. I involve my clients as my core team members. Or if I am doing a “Scott” product, I’ll reach out to buyers and consumers. I’m a sponge for input—I am always listening and watching. I even sleep with one eye open.
NP: Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
SH: I’m developing new “Scott” products: a consumer electronics gizmo, some cookware, and some baby gear.
Scott Henderson’s Slat Chair, designed using the forces of tension and compression, was fabricated from molded aircraft grade birch veneer and two simple polished stainless steel rods. Check out the images below to see how New Project created the prototype of Scott’s chair in our shop.
We just completed another inspired window display for Calvin Klein’s flagship store on Madison Avenue. (You may recall our past windows with them including faux clay walls and 20th anniversary celebration display.) Their concept was to create a topographical landscape for their apparel to live in. Inspiration came from desert landscapes of the southwest. To create the models, we incorporated data from actual maps, tweaked it to fit the given spaces and product considerations, and generated cut files for our CNC machine. When all was said and done, there were over 800 discrete pieces with their edges totaling over a mile in length. Then came coloring; three colors dispersed somewhat randomly amongst all the levels. Needless to say, our diligence in labeling every last piece was absolutely essential for ease of assembly.
Check it out if you’re in Manhattan. Madison Ave and 60th street.
think & build
May 1st marked the long anticipated public opening of the new Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. The museum and its 21,000 works now call 99 Gansevoort Street its new permanent home. The building, designed by famed Italian architect Renzo Piano, includes approximately 50,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space and an additional 13,000 square feet of outdoor exhibit space. Its strong asymmetrical shape mirrors the industrial character of the neighboring buildings and stands prominently on the island’s west side overlooking the High Line.
We have worked with a number of luxury fashion brands to create memorable and cohesive window and store displays throughout the city. Having worked with Max Mara before, we were approached by the London-based company Chameleon Visual, who have been producing distinctive visual concepts for the finest brands for years, to build and install a number of custom pieces for the launch of the Whitney Bag. On the docket: pedestals, cases, vinyl, large-scale lightboxes, neon signs, walls, after-hours installs, and three large-scale models of the Museum. No Problem!
Boom Boom Room- Top of The Standard Hotel Private View Party
Our Role: Fabrication and installation of one enclosed display case, and three large-scale models of the New Whitney Museum of American Art. The models, made of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) & Dibond composite, were cut using the CNC machine with v-grooves allowing it to fold into shape. The models were then primed and sprayed with the building’s signature bluish-grey hue.
MaxMara Madison Avenue– Whitney Bag Launch
Our Role: Fabrication and installation of lightboxes, neon signs, and bases to display the different style options of the Whitney Bag. This late-night installation took a large crew to finish, and we think the end result is pretty striking.
MaxMara: Saks, 5th Avenue Whitney Bag Launch
Our Role: Fabrication and installation of three separate displays in Saks, 5th Avenue.
MaxMara: Bergdorf Goodman Whitney Bag Launch
Our Role: Fabrication and installation
think & build
Modular Custom Furniture for Cornell Tech- “It’s Not Our Space, It’s Theirs”
New York City is no stranger to arts-specific educational institutions. Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs are home to Parsons the New School of Design, the School of Visual Arts, Pratt Institute, and the New York Film Academy, among many others. Each offering their own set of discipline-focused curricula, these schools have produced countless alumni who have gone on to become leaders in their respective fields. With the recent shift toward the technological and with start-ups securing their place as a permanent fixture of our future, it was only a matter of time before New York’s already impressive educational offerings included a technology-based school which would focus on preparing its students with the information technology skills they’ll need to be at the forefront of the rapidly-changing technological landscape. Enter, Cornell Tech.
Seen as a way to increase entrepreneurship and job growth in the city’s technology sector, Mayor Bloomberg announced the plans for Cornell Tech’s 12 acre Roosevelt Island campus back in 2011. The first phase of construction is slated to be completed in 2017, with the remainder of the campus scheduled to be finished in 2037. In the interim, in order to establish a foot-hold in the city, Cornell Tech has begun offering their graduate program out of a temporary home inside Google’s Chelsea building. The school was looking for a space that is open and flexible, where students, faculty, and guests could interact and collaborate in unique and personalized ways. Enter, New Project.
New Project was contracted by Rockwell Group, a local architectural design firm, to fabricate large mobile modules that the students can move, rearrange, and manipulate to create unique spaces for classes, lectures, study, and lounging. Rockwell Group accurately defines the resulting creation as a “learning toolkit of working hubs and surfaces that encourage collaboration”.
Using Rockwell Group’s original designs, New Project fabricated and installed four freestanding, modular structures in the school’s “Studio” in 2013. Each module was equipped with white boards and cork boards, as well as access to dropped electrical power sources so that students could easily attach computers, projectors, monitors, etc. Various seating and large work surfaces make up the remainder of the space, which could be transformed and moved to accommodate a number of various needs including events, lectures and presentations. Additionally, we built a custom reception desk in the shape of Roosevelt Island, the university’s future home, using layered furniture-grade birch plywood.
A year and a half later, we’ve returned to the campus and spoke with Cornell Tech staff members Tamika Morales, Administrative Assistant, and Aaron Holiday, Managing Entrepreneurial Officer, to see how the units have been received and manipulated by the students. Here’s what they had to say:NP: In your experience here at Cornell Tech, how have you noticed the students using the furniture in “The Studio”? TM: The students have become very comfortable with the furniture. They use the large piece, dubbed “Mamma Jamma”, the most. I’ve seen it used as a large desk and study area, a stage, and many other things. All of the furniture is used on a daily basis in a number of different ways. The furniture has actually become a very important part of the student’s “Hack Days”. NP: Can you elaborate on what a Hack Day is and how the furniture is used in the process? AH: Hack Days occur three times a semester. The objective of this 24 hour event is for the students to make accelerated progress on the projects they are building on campus, particularly technology and software. It creates a collaborative culture for people who are actively building things. The furniture is an integral part of hack day. We put the studio in a way that its setup is completely unusable; tables are flipped upside down, things are all over the place. Tamika and the team will pile all of the furniture up in the middle of the room with the white boards all around the space. Then, at the count of three, students will race and go after everything and grab what they want. It’s actually quite incredible to watch this completely disheveled space transform into a useable work area in less than a minute. The students can create and convert it into their own space, They take ownership not only of the project they are working on but the space they’re working in. This can only happen because the furniture is modular and on wheels. NP: That sounds exciting! Reminds me of the cornucopia scene in The Hunger Games, without all the violence of course. When we built the furniture we were really hoping that the students would take ownership of the space and utilize it according to their needs. It’s nice to see they are. Are there any other events that come to mind that the furniture was manipulated and used for? TM: Yes! We use it all the time for seminars, announcements, panel discussions, and most often for our weekly guest speakers. We call it Conversations In The Studio, where luminaries in the tech community are invited to come and speak to about entrepreneurship, engineering, art and other topics. The conversations are moderated by the students. We can pull out the stage, and set up chairs, but the rest of the furniture is pushed to the sides to accommodate the crowds. Sometimes the Google people come down to hear the speaker. NP: Have the students or speakers used the furniture in any way that has surprised you? TM: I saw someone actually doing pull-ups one day on Mamma Jamma. I also once saw someone turn one one of the pieces into their own space, complete with a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the outside, they found the remotes that are hidden inside the deskâ€¦ they really take ownership. The magnetic Cornell Tech sign gets moved everywhere and is played with to take pictures and whatnot. It’s always in a new spot. NP: There is a lot going on here everyday, and it’s not a huge space. It almost seems like this kind of set up was necessary. If the furniture was static and heavy, you would have been very limited as to what you could do with the space. TM: Yes, I think the students would have been very frustrated. It wouldn’t have the same energy. This isn’t our space, it’s their space.
We have to say, we knew the furniture would be utilized, but we were pleasantly surprised how they have incorporated the furniture into their daily lives on campus. It is interesting that physical furniture is so heavily manipulated and depended on in such a technological setting. We are so proud of what we built, and think Rockwell Group really hit the nail on the head with the design.
We leave you with some visuals from the planning, fabrication, and installation phases of the project. Enjoy!
Also, check out Rockwell Group’s Vimeo Page for a time-lapse video of Cornell’s Studio in use.
Think and Build.
The Holiday Season in New York City
NYC’s cultural institutions offer top-quality programming and exhibits around this time of year. Navigating the overwhelming options can be, well, overwhelming. With seven kids under the age of ten and one more on the way in ourÂ New Project family, we have some experience finding the best options for meaningful and exciting family time in the city.
If you’ve been following us online for the past month, you’re likely familiar with our latest project at the Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) in NYC, an exhibit titled Robot Swarm. The response has been glowing from visitors of all ages! The museum is open to the public seven days a week from 10am to 5pm, so there’s no excuse to miss it. You’ll find yourself just as immersed and fascinated as your kids, trust us, we always end up tied up in the Enigma Cafe.
Make sure you check out the other exhibits we’ve built for the museum, including the Logo Generator, Formula Morph, Harmony of Spheres, Motionscape, and Sixth Sense while you are there. Kudos go out to our friends and collaborators at MOEY, a Brooklyn based interactive design company we worked in conjunction with on these pieces.
“Manipulate mathematical symbols symmetrically to create a unique MoMath-style logo” –MoMath
Our entire team here at New Project wishes you and your families a happy holiday season and a beautiful New Year!
Thank you for your support and see you in 2015!
think & build
Last year we fabricated and installed a show at New York Public Library called “Charles Dickens: The Key to Character.” It was designed by our friend Roger Westerman and consisted of illustrations, original writings, rare translations, and even Dickens’s pocket diary full of code that he used with his mistress.
We just found out…the show won an award!
SEGD (that’s Society for Environmental Graphic Design in case you were wondering) gave the exhibit a Design Merit award.
Here are some photos: