Photographs by Kelly Davidson
No matter how many times we visit the Boston Design Center, and we’re there a lot, there’s always something new. It could be as straightforward as a showroom opening (Romo’s fabrics and wallcoverings are pattern-heavy and stunning), as logistic as a location change (Icon Group settles into its new spot on the other end of the fourth floor), or more design-inspired such a new collection to ogle (designer Sarah Richardson’s fabrics are now carried at Kravet and Carlisle Wide Plank Flooring announced its Oyster Bay and Sunapee Lake collections, which have muted hues for wood floors with names like Afternoon Nap, Weathered Rope, and Soaring Eagle).
New is normal, but the exquisite furniture crafted by Hellman-Chang available to the trade at Webster & Company is extraordinary. H|C was founded by Daniel Hellman and Eric Chang, friends since age 10, who design and craft beautiful tables, desks, bookshelves, and chairs at their studio in Brooklyn, New York. To photograph and interview the design duo for our “et al.” department in Design New England’s November/December issue, we visited them at the Webster showroom, the first in New England to carry the line.
The first H|C designs to make it big were from the Z collection: The pedestal table won Best of Year honors from Interior Design magazine in 2006, their pieces started showing up on the sets of Sex and the City 2 and Gossip Girl, and Boston designer Charles Fletcher chose the Z bedside table for inclusion in Design New England’s “Selections” department in the November/December 2007 issue. The newest piece in the collection, the Avery Chair, marks Hellman-Chang’s move into seating. “Being that we are self-taught designers,” says Chang, “we’ve never felt that we were designing within a specific set of rules or guidelines.” Apparently, they are heading in the right direction.
The range of finishes they offer also sets H|C apart. “Our most popular has been the Espresso Walnut,” Chang says, “which has a rich color that’s still extremely versatile for different interiors.” Recently, requests have been coming in for finishes with more of a gray tone. They answered with Slate Oak and Burnished Walnut. Also, the wood species offered are available in either open-pore, for a rough look, or closed-pore, for a high-polish finish.
As for quality, the handmade craftsmanship speaks for itself. “Our clients can rest assured that our pieces will last generations,” says Chang. “And although we are in the world of creating beautiful products, we recognize that this is a service industry — and we pride ourselves on our ability to customize and to communicate the luxury and quality that our brand stands for.”
Pristinely dressed and recalling how they used to build furniture as kids in their parents’ garages, they’ve got the brand thing down. As another example, for a recent ad campaign for Canali, a luxury Italian men’s clothier, they give the art of furniture making some glamour and style by working in their shop dressed in Canali suits. Take a look at the video behind that shoot, here.
All humor aside, the furniture is sophisticated and they take their work very seriously. “Design comes from a place of passion and love of product,” says Chang. “I think that when you design that way, people will recognize it, and that’s really how our pieces have created a life and voice of their own.”
Great design is always at your fingertips — read the November/December 2013 issue online!
An insider's look at must-have products, fresh trends, and inspired spaces from the team at Design New England magazine.
Gail Ravgiala is editor of Design New England and a fan of both the region's historic architecture and its growing inventory of modern houses and public buildings.
Courtney Kasianowicz is associate editor of Design New England who scouts the area for new design, charming products, and local artisans both innovative and daring.
Jill Connors, Design New England's editor-at-large, is an antiques maven and design scout and will post about trends and discoveries in the field.
Bruce Irving, Design New England's contributing editor for architecture & building, is a renovation specialist who will share his insights on design and construction.
Estelle Bond Guralnick, Design New England's style & interiors editor, will post about interior design and interior designers and her favorite finds.