Little Owl Design make such beautiful, poetic and sensitive work that we were curious to get to know a little more about them.
Bruce and Marcello were kind enough to share with us a few photos of their wonderful eclectic home and studio. They also answered what we hope will be the first of many Q&A interviews with the designers who’s work inspires and engages us. We hope you enjoy it! What inspired you to start working together?
Our shared backgrounds in art history/culinary arts (Bruce), and fine arts/apparel designs (Marcello), but both of us are interested in all these disciplines. From the very beginning we realized we share the same interests, and we are drawn to the same images.
A point of inspiration may be just a thought…, what if? Or it could be something we come across in a market that then sparks an idea. These thoughts and inspirations then open new doors into whole worlds of design. As in the Dutch Sky wallpaper, which started out by Bruce looking at empty 19th C French photo albums the two of us found being sold from a garage here in Amsterdam by a woman who lives on a barge, and travels the canals and rivers of France and Belgium buying antiques. From that point we went into the world of wallpaper.
Tell us about your working process. When you are working on a new product or collection, do you each work on specific aspects?
Bruce works from a more verbal/physical point of view. At the start of the design process the idea is either drawn out, or discussed to the point we both can see it in our heads. Later after we have researched the idea further we lay out the materials and combine them together in different ways before we decide how to proceed. In our works on paper for instance,
Marcello’s work as a textile designer comes to the fore, and his skill with various computer programs allows us to create the new from the old. To take a 100+ year old dried plant specimen and turn it into a new wallpaper. So he will work on the project in the computer, and then the two of us will discuss it again. This is of course tends to go back and forth until we both feel satisfied with the end result.
Bruce keeps our Pinterest profile up to date with several boards of inspirations, while Marcello is in charge of CGI on our iMac.
What is your idea of a perfect working day?
The moment an idea of ours comes together, and we can see it materialize. We try out ideas all the time, but it is when one of them really ‘clicks’ into place that we feel most satisfied.
Where do you work from and what does it look like?
We work in a small studio (really a garden shed!) in our garden where we keep our large collection of plates, and all the tools we use, plus hundreds of pieces we collect as a source of inspiration for new projects.
It’s very small, but it is also quite peaceful, and a good place to work in – we just wish it were a bit larger! We are a pair of magpies, and so collect far too many objet trouvé for our little space.
Also our computer desk (with a well stocked bookshelf next to it) is another place we spend several hours every day.
Do your home resemble your work? Do you use your own designs in your homes?
Yes, as the very things that inspire us are also part of our everyday life. We do keep some of our designs on display in our home as well. Also by having the things that spark ideas around us we can think about them more. The home and studio have become one to a degree.
Who are you’re the people that have inspired you or what are your design inspirations?
Oh we are inspired by so many!
Here in The Netherlands we like Hella Jongerius for her ability to turn her eye to many different disciplines, be it textiles, or porcelain, and our friend Leslie Oschmann for her creative rethinking of objects.
From Italy we both love Giò Ponti and his light touch on anything he designed, and Paola Navone’s amazing work in so many different media.
Which are your 3 favourite shops in Amsterdam ?
Bok & Zn an old fashioned shop selling paints, pigments and other materials for the artist and the decorator, such as beeswax, shellac, gold leaf (even edible gold leaf!). Capsicum Natural Fabrics Capsicum creates, imports and sells hand-woven fabrics, interior and fashion accessories mostly from India and South-East Asia.
Architectura & Natura bookshop specialized in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Natural History.
What is the object that is most precious to you, and why?
Bruce : Some rocks I’ve collected over the years. They remind me of the places I found them, and for the fact the natural beauty of them never fades. Marcello: A Summer picture of my parents in a pine grove. They were in their early twenties, my mother in a white bathing suit with matching star-shaped earrings, my father embraces her. They both look so happy, and beautiful!
What are your favourite books / blogs / music at the moment?
Bruce has recently read the English translation of Roberto Calasso’s ‘Tiepolo’s Pink’: a fascinating study of one of our favourite painters (we recently visited the Residence in Würzburg).
Marcello loved “The Fruit Hunters” about the thousand of different fruits you won’t find at your local supermarket.
We regularly check the Messynessychic blog. Vanessa (who lives in Paris!) has the most fascinating eye for the quirky, the beautiful, the unexpected and knows how to narrate about it. We found out about her as she listed our Altered Perspectives among her weekly ’13 Things I found on the Internet Today’ post and soon became hooked on her RSS feed.
We are avid Spotify users, especially the feature of the ‘radio’ based on a specific band/artist: the best way to discover new music! And we can’t wait to see Goldfrapp playing at Paradiso (and buy their new CD due in September).
If Little Owl was a food / recipe, what would it taste like?
That’s an interesting question. We would have to say it would have to be a recipe from Marcello’s mother for one of her family dishes, carefully written into a little notebook, and given to Marcello when he moved to Amsterdam 20 years ago so that he would never have to worry about being able to make something to eat for himself. The recipes are full of history, and yet simple and delicious.
Is the Little Owl glass half full or half empty?
Any exciting plans for Little Owl?
We are working on a new project with glass made in the Czech Republic, and hope to be able to create new things combining our ideas, and the wonderful traditions and skills that exist there.
Thank you Bruce & Marcello ! Little Owl Design showcase their new work at the Collection during September 2013.