Last month kicked off our Coast to Coast series with Design Milk where we, Colony, a NY-based community of independent furniture, lighting, textiles and objects designers, set out to explore the United States in the name of design, discovery and inspiration. Detroit was first up, and then came Nashville. The latest city we set our sights on was the infamously boisterous New Orleans, Louisiana.
Aside from the renowned debauchery of the French Quarter (thank you to the respite-giving AC Hotels for our very own Bourbon Street experience!), New Orleans also plays host to an unexpected group of young artists and designers. With its prominent Contemporary Arts Center and biennial art event Prospect New Orleans, the city’s creatives no doubt have a presence on the national scene; but as of late, the designers here have struck a particularly resonant chord as a marked community, creating a cooperative and supportive local network collectively producing impactful, important work.
What we received from this tight-knit crew of small businesses and entrepreneurs was a strong Southern dose of hospitality, and a paralleling professional “sharing and caring.” Design studios like Farouki Farouki, CICADA, Sunday Shop, Minmoo Studio, Augusta Sagnelli, Small Chalk, and Luna Botanicals hold each other up through pooled resources and the creation of an intimate, uplifting localized industry.
For the young, creative community that inhabits this city, New Orleans’ post-Katrina reality keeps social, racial, and economic inequalities, as well as the practical concerns of water management and flood land geographies, tip-top of mind. They each channel their respective, expert understandings of the city’s land, history, and culture into a laid-back, productive, and responsible approach to designing their built and urban environments. These designers make up an informed, productive, conscious, and artfully sophisticated group of advocates-through-design for the growth of their beautifully unique city.
A full service creative studio and design firm, Minmoo homes in on brands’ design needs through creative, intentional solutions. Sharing a building with photographer Augusta Sagnelli and with Small Chalk, an illustration and lettering studio, transfers a creative Zen to each of the practices. The trio exists like a cooperative, in a sense, all frequently collaborating and exercising a strongly entrepreneurial, women-helping-women mentality.
We’ll admit that we’re predisposed to the husband-and-wife team behind Farouki Farouki, as they came down to Louisiana after years spent in New York City. Their architecture and interior design practice consists of commercial projects from New Orleans to the west coast, all of which are grounded in an empathy-centric design mentality.
CICADA expands the notions of architectural and product design through mediums and projects incorporating virtual reality, drone surveys and photos, and 3D printing. Their work consistently responds to questions about how best to integrate architecture into the lives of the people actually experiencing the project sites and spaces.
Founded by the duo behind New Orleans-based interior design firm Logan Killen Interiors, Sunday Shop is an inspired collection of all the items that make a home a true home. Its careful and conscious curation of design product and objet features items that have a strong and important story, allowing each customer to tell their own.
The partners (in work and life) who run Luna Botanicals live a life connected to the natural environment. They translate that passion into projects meant to connect people with flowers and greenery in mindful, meaningful ways. Think: living green walls, floral installations, or home succulent gardens. Their imaginative projects take what we think of as “design” to a whole new level.
The general welcoming nature of New Orleans’ design community is not only present in their relationships to guests and clients; it’s rooted in their relationships to and with one another. The consciousness with which they’re approaching their practices and the design work they introduce to world is such a promising thing to witness from practitioners. These are the new-age carriers of New Orleans’ bacchanalian, jazzified, and yet complicated heritage—and we’re excited to see how they continue to tell those stories through design.
Thank you to AC Hotels for making our New Orleans trip possible and for providing the team with a warm welcome at the AC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon. The inviting space is a stones throw away from the bustling French Quarter so we didn’t have to miss any of the action.