HAUTE LIVING'S FIVE + 3 / INTERVIEW WITH DESIGNER REZA FEIZ
“The challenge of design is to create something that is unique and functional, but above all has a nuanced and memorable personality. I like my work to be simple yet ingenious; to be understated yet be able to stand out and get noticed.” ~ Reza Feiz
Difficult as it may be, imagine for a moment that the technology of digital photography never existed. Raster impressions that last indefinitely for future generations to share, examine and study are hypothetical - abstract at best. Archiving and preserving information is done by hand renderings and written descriptions. Also imagine, like ancient times, that regional information stayed regional, buried below thousands of years of weather's mood swings. Now fast forward 10,000 years from present day and imagine what archeologists would think upon the discovery of the Phase Design studio, safeguarded under 50 feet of ice somewhere off the coast of San Bernardino.
Phase Design began thirteen years ago in Los Angeles, started by award-winning and self-taught industrial designer, Reza Feiz. Since 2000, Reza has created an impressive catalog of furniture, lighting, and home accessories using both conventional and unconventional materials including woods, various metals, ceramics, and fiberglass, balancing delicate physicality and practical functionality in all of his designs. Though influenced by the work of modernist architects such as Richard Neutra, Pierre Koenig, and John Lautner, and drawing upon other Southern California architecture and design, Reza continually strives to capture the modernist tenets of proportion and clarity in his work, resulting in a less regional and more global design vernacular. He has progressively gained local, national, and international recognition for his work that is imbued with a 21st century edge, making it relevant to the constantly evolving contemporary environment. His work continues to be acquired by some of the most discriminating clients, both corporate and private, in addition to being collected worldwide.
One can make a safe assumption that the future excavators who discover Reza’s work for the first time, buried beneath millennia, would archive and catalog it with some of the best designs of the present “modern” era. Haute living is truly honored to represent Phase Design in our showroom, and we’re extremely excited to present him to you in our Five + 3 interview series.
HL: Some of the greatest artists and designers never took a color theory class. How does being a self-taught designer differ from someone who went through formal schooling in the field of product or furniture design?
RF: There is a certain freedom in the thought process when you can approach design with out any constraints or limitations in terms of what you were told as being the “right way” or “wrong way.” I enjoy the freedom of being able to start my design process and thoughts from a very uninhibited place. Look at what some of the notable self taught designers such as Mies van der Rohe, Phillippe Stark, and Tadao Ando have contributed, and you can’t help but be inspired. That is not to say that I don’t strive to immerse and educate myself in areas that influence my work such as art, architecture, and of course design.
HL: After 13 successful years of designing furniture and products for the home, how do you continue to find inspiration?
RF: Life. Not to sound cheesy, but I feel very fortunate to be of sound mind and body (for the most part!) and able to do what I truly enjoy, and find inspiration in my daily journey through life. I live near the historic Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, and in the mornings I go for a run surrounded by architecture from masters such as Nuetra, Schindler, and Lautner, with the iconic view of the San Fernando Valley in the background. That does the trick every time.
HL: How do you approach each design project, both philosophically and logistically?
RF: My design philosophy is strength in simplicity, and I try my best to stick to this, although Leonado Di Vinci may have said it best, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Usually brilliant design is so simple that it elicits a response of, “Wow that’s so simple, I should I have thought of that!” but that’s the magic – the genius is in the simplicity.
HL: We are very excited to display the new Phase products here in the Haute Living showroom. Tell us about the Inner Beauty Pendants and Points of Interest Tables you featured at ICFF last month.
RF: I am thrilled that my new pieces are offered at Haute Living. Jeff is doing an amazing job assembling a great mix of designers and brands. The Inner Beauty Pendants are a scaled-down version of the Inner Beauty Floor Lights, which we launched in 2011. Changing scale in design has interesting results and we found that shrinking the big floor light into a pendant worked beautifully! The Points of Interest tables are a brand new collection of coffee and side tables. Architecture is a big influence on my work, and these table exemplify this, specifically Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion which served as inspiration for the Points of Interest tables.
HL: What have you been working on since finishing your collections for ICFF?
RF: We are working on some different versions of the new pieces we launched at ICFF. For example, the Open Mic floor light will soon be offered as a desk light as well; the Pill family of side tables and bench will be offered in a solid lumber option, and a circular version of the Points of Interest Coffee table is in the works. We are also working on exciting new Hotel projects in London, Sweden, Lebanon, and Singapore.
What are some of your favorite designed objects within the last decade?
What is your favorite work of architecture in Los Angeles?
This is the most unfair question, and, difficult to constrain to Los Angeles as I fall in love with a new work of architecture almost daily! Everything from the storied Case Study Houses, to Michael Maltzan’s Pittman Dowell residence, to Tatiana Bilbao’s Universe house, and HHF’s Tsai Residence’s & Guesthouse. But ultimately the various unheralded Mid Century Modern houses that pepper Los Angeles will always have a special place in my heart.
If you were given a plane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Book that ticket to Vietnam. I love their cuisine and would love to experience the real thing!
The work of Reza Feiz can be seen at Haute Living’s showroom on Kinzie Street in Chicago, or here.
Interview by Nathaniel Ross