Friday Five with Ted Boerner

This week’s Friday Five lands us in San Francisco with Ted Boerner whose eponymous design studio has been crafting made to order home furnishings for “real people’s real lives” since 1993. His timeless furnishings are showcased in showrooms across the United States and Canada and while being known for comfort, the designs are also stylish, contemporary pieces that are built to last. Continuing to branch out and work with other companies, like Design Within Reach, Rocky Mountain Hardware, Brownstone, and Henry Hall Designs, means his well-loved designs are seen by the masses. Let’s see what keeps this hard-working designer with a keen eye inspired.


1. A morning cup of Japanese Sencha Green Tea, brewed at exactly 170 degrees in a tea cup I acquired from its maker, a ceramicist in Tokyo. I found it in his small studio on a narrow street next to a cemetery in Ueno Park. I almost can’t start my day without it. The Wabi-Sabi of the hand applied lines remind me of the potter’s hands as I hold the warm cup with my own.


2. Music by Philip Glass
…almost any of it really, but specifically the soundtrack to the film The Hours. I play this more than any other music. I put it on when I’m about to design or write (please forgive me Mr Glass…I also do just listen.) All of the pieces together tell a story; it carries you, drops you, lifts you and lets you go. It’s meditation.


Photo by Rocky Mountain Hardware

3. Makers
People and companies who make things from scratch like pie (including the crust!) or cast bronze hardware. A company like Rocky Mountain Hardware is a true inspiration on every level. A family run company in a beautiful place creating enduringly real pieces in an ancient and traditional way with a deep respect for the artisans, the environment, and the future.


4. A retreat in the Anderson Valley to my Sweetwater Bungalow tent cabin in the Anderson Valley
No water, no electricity, no mobile service. This is where I reconnect with my core and my chosen family. The man-made dwelling imposed within the woods is somehow pleasing and comforting…there is a clarity of opposites. The iconic cabin shape creates a sense of home and its stark whiteness creates a great contrast with nature. We assembled them ourselves and that feels good.


5. Torso by Peter Gutkin
This personal sized table has a quiet yet strong stance. The form, materials and proportions anchor my sofa and delights the space… and holds my cup of tea (see above) at the end of the day.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.