Interview with New York design duo, Colleen & Eric Whiteley. By Aaron Leizerovici
The design duo first met in 2000 at Pratt Institute. For about five years’, Colleen & Eric have been creating handcrafted furniture and objects.
Trained in one of the most acclaimed fine furniture shops in New York City, Eric brings more than a decade of fabrication experience to every project. Colleen’s expertise in wood finishing was honed while working as an antique restorer for the city’s most discerning clientele.
They collaborate with interior designers, architects, and private clients to create custom works upholding the highest standards of craft, quality, and sustainability.
BTB: Where does your inspiration come from?
Collen & Eric (C+E): Some of our favorite projects have been collaborations with other designers and clients. We both get a lot of inspiration from working with others.
BTB: All of the designs you’ve created, which is your favourite?
C+E: A cabinet we call Grand Tambour. This was a custom-made item that was a response to a client's inability to find anything on the market that suited their needs. It was immensely satisfying to collaborate with them and develop a unique piece of furniture that fit so well into their lives.
The design we arrived at includes one giant tambour door that encircles the piece - a true challenge functionally. The fact that it turned out beautifully and operates flawlessly is wonderful as well!
Grand Tambour by Collen + Eric
BTB: As a duo, have you ever disagreed on designs?
C+E: Oh yeah! Disagreeing, or challenging each other's ideas, is where some of the more creative concepts come from.
BTB: What makes you different from other designers?
C+E: Our work has been in outer space! A photograph of our NorthStar table flew aboard the space shuttle Endeavor on its last mission.
BTB: If you guys weren’t designing, where would you be now?
Colleen: I'd be knees deep in dusty furniture and objects. I love antiques. It's fascinating to see older craftspeople's techniques.
Eric: I absolutely love working with my hands, and love learning new skills. I'd like to try blacksmithing.
BTB: On a lighter note, how would you describe each other as business partners?
C+E: Full disclosure: we're also married, so we generally think of each other as pretty good business partners, and life partners too!