Guest blog by Ariel Okin, AD PRO
Photo: Courtesy of of Ray Booth / Hickory Chair
Acclaimed American interior designer Ray Booth launched his furniture collection with Hickory Chair at April High Point Market. The new collection of bedroom, dining room, and living room furniture is expansive, reflecting the collaboration of talents between Booth’s keen aesthetic senses and Hickory Chair’s storied commitment to high-quality furniture. Notably, the collection adds a new dimension to the Hickory Chair portfolio with a wide range of architectural silhouettes and inventive use of steel, broadening the American furniture maker’s position as a leader in the industry.
“The collection is intended to inspire new thoughts on design that push our ever-evolving desire for creativity and inventiveness,” Booth tells AD PRO. “The way I design a lot of times is to layer in a lot of antique, vintage pieces with more clean-lined upholstery that typically becomes a quieter backdrop. This collection is really based on that intersection where antique meets modern.”
Booth’s aim in welding old and new is to try to devise a product that renders itself timeless. “My goal is to create spaces that aren’t steeped in just one period or style, but rather evoke an aesthetic that transcends multiple styles and has a little longer staying power,” he says. To Booth, this design philosophy mimics the way he views life. “I think we are all amalgams of our experiences, and the experiences of our grandparents and parents as well—we’re composed emotionally from all these different influences. I think an interior is much the same way. My hope is that maybe some of these pieces that we’re designing with Hickory Chair become those future antique pieces that ingrain into people’s psyche and are rediscovered years from now.”
A neutral base with pops of color, the collection mimics much of Booth’s design work, where art, pillows, and objects offer up pigment, and main big-ticket items are a bit quieter. Standout pieces include the Block dining table (which is “like a piece of architecture,” notes Booth), the Rick Box table (inspired by three little boxes Booth saw stacked in an antique shop—“happenstance, but I thought what a great little design!”), and the tête-à-tête Conversation chair, a “showstopper” based off an Irish chair Booth picked up at an antique shop in London years ago.
The collection’s inventive use of steel—a first for Hickory Chair—has personal ties for Booth. “My dad was an aerospace engineer, and I like to say he was a bona fide tinkerer—he was always working on some sort of project. I grew up around pieces and parts and the way that they all came together, which became something of real interest for me,” he explains. Given the personal references in the collection, it only makes sense that Booth’s experience working with Hickory Chair felt downright familial. “It felt like coming home to work with Hickory Chair; I grew up in Alabama, and Hickory Chair’s character is very familiar to me—they have a love of what they do, and a love for the people that they do it with, paired with a care that is so gracious,” he says.
Booth was also drawn to Hickory Chair's commitment to quality manufacturing. "A lot of our goods are being made here in America—they have a great vendor doing all of this steel for us," Booth says. "When I came to them and said I wanted to do steel-framed sofas and chairs and desks, they looked at me a little strangely at first, but then they took the challenge of working with these new materials to heart, and the result is this new collection. I’m blown away that they’ve been able to craft almost all of this from their factories and local vendors.”
AD PRO—the new membership for design professionals from Architectural Digest, which offers news, profiles, business features, and access to the magazine’s archive—maps out a few key picks from this season's Market.
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