A Day in the Life of Brendan Ravenhill

This month’s Designer Dailies takes a peek into the working life of Los  Angeles-based designer Brendan Ravenhill. The designer, who was born on the Ivory Coast and spent summers on the coast of Maine, studied sculpture at Oberlin College and Industrial Design at RISD. He fell in love with building things when he was a boy, helping his father with carpentry projects. He has collaborated in the construction of a timber frame barn as well as the construction of eight boats, and spent a year as an apprentice welder. It’s no surprise, then, that Ravenhill finds his inspiration in the functional beauty of working tools. Let’s see how he spends his day.

If I start my day with coffee and drawing it means it’s a good day.

Alex (pictured) and Jon arrive around 8:30. The studio is one half of our house in Echo Park. Here Alex is working on a new toy prototype.

Part of the morning is spent in assembly; here we’re working on Cord Lamps. The ceramic socket is cast locally in LA and everything is assembled on site.

The shop is off to one side of the house. Outside! So LA. We’ve only been in the house since May, so I haven’t had to put a roof on it yet. We keep things pretty basic since we only work on prototypes out here. Once we work out the forms, production runs take place at local fabricators.

This is a cast aluminum table leg prototype we’ve been working on. It’s sitting here reminding me to do something with it.

Here we’re using the block plane on the leg of a new side table design. The table will be paired with our first bed frame design for a client in Mount Washington.

Here’s the prototype. I’m liking the forms, but it needs to be a bit taller.

I visit with fabricators a couple of days a week to check in on the progress of different projects. I can’t help but get inspired talking to makers and being in these vast industrial spaces around LA. This trip was to check out the progress on a new version of the Black Chair in white oak.

We discuss the alterations we want to make before the upholstery goes on.

Different furniture making patterns from some of the many pieces manufactured here. I love the way they look all stacked together. It may look disorganized, but if I asked Gustavo to show me one of my earlier patterns, he’d know right where to find them.

Lunch at Guisado’s in Boyle Heights. Level 7 heat on the cochinitas pibil. They make my favorite taco in all of LA.

Another visit, this time to my metal fabricator to pick up some Hex Lamps.

I love the scale and color of these metal-forming tools.

First aid kits and security alarm boxes stacked up. Most of what they make here is produced in the thousands, but they work with a few local designers like me in smaller batch runs.

The light coming in through the cupola at the factory.

Back at the studio, we inspect Hex Lamps for quality control before packing them up for shipment.

Look at the late afternoon light coming into the space. This is our bedroom on the other side of the house from the studio. An original Cord Lamp in cast plastic is mounted above the bed.

The sun is setting in Echo Park, the view from the shop. I finished the day making taller legs for the side table. I was glad to get a few more hours in while there was still light.

Marni Elyse Katz is a Contributing Editor at Design Milk. She lives in Boston where she contributes regularly to local publications and writes her own interior design blog, StyleCarrot.