WantedDesign Manhattan 2021 Launch Pad Furniture Winner: Tom Lerental
Continuing with our winner spotlight from the WantedDesign Manhattan 2021 Launch Pad competition, we’re excited to present Tom Lerental of Tomma Bloom as the winner of the Furniture category for her Sonia and Rene Collection! Design Milk partnered with WantedDesign Manhattan alongside sponsor American Standard and led the jury panel with Giulio Cappellini of Cappellini, Andrea Cesarman of Design Week Mexico, Crystal Ellis of Egg Collective, and Jean-Jacques L’hénaff of LIXIL Global Design, Americas in determining the winners of this prestigious competition. Congratulations Tom!
Tom chats with Design Milk about her studio Tomma Bloom, the inspiration behind her work, and what she plans on taking on next:
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Who is Tom and how did Tomma Bloom come about?
I’m a textile designer in passion and practice. I’m 31 (but celebrate 19 every year), I grew up in Israel and currently live in Boston, MA with my wife and gorgeous dog-daughter, Kai. I graduated from Shenkar College of Design with a bachelor’s degree in Textile Design (Cum Laude) and from Tel-Aviv University with a Master of Art in Interdisciplinary Arts.
As a kid, I was the odd girl out, never felt like I quite fit anywhere. Luckily, I have a strong mom that has always made sure that I stay true to myself, to who I am and to what I believe in, so evidently it became the core to my values. Pursuing a creative profession was my calling, so I am doing it with open heart and open mind.
My grandma’s studio was my favorite place on earth. She was a textile artist, so I was familiar with textile as an artistic medium from an early age. When I applied to design school, I felt like I knew what I was getting into but had no idea how this choice would be so meaningful. It turns out that my whole essence was wired to textiles. Textile as a practice, a method and a visual language works perfectly with my repetitive-anxious-OCD mind. Framing my practice within a pattern or a structure is the basis of how I think and act.
Since an early age my dream was to live in NYC and have a space where I could practice my art. My wife and I moved to the New York three years ago to pursue new adventures and professional development. I founded Tomma Bloom around then, and my work focuses on surface design for interior. Textile design is the basis of my creative practice and a guideline to my work, but I believe that there is so much more to it than designing fabrics. It can be used both as a visual language and as an object in creating tactile and playful spaces. Through ever-evolving material research, I work to redefine the tools of my trade – pattern and structure, along with form and color – into tangible, three-dimensional experiences, inspired and driven by an exploration of material culture and the interactions between object and folklore.
What is so inspiring to you about Sonia Delaunay and Rene Lalique’s work?
My approach to design thinking and my creative practice are deeply influenced by the late 19th, early 20th centuries Art History. I believe that this era is one of the most meaningful in the development of our material culture, one that allowed us to move forward by questioning our culture, perception, and medium.
Sonia Delaunay and Rene Lalique are two examples of artists that created groundbreaking work that allowed us to be forward thinkers. I find Sonia Delaunay approach to form and color fascinating. Using abstraction to depict forms was not a new approach at her time, but the rhythm and motion she created using color were unique to her. As for Rene Lalique, I admire his utmost use of details, building his work through repetition of forms, translating his style through various mediums.
Saying that, the thing that inspires me the most about their work is their dedication and uncompromising approach towards their practice, and the fact that they were able to keep their unique voice while transitioning from one medium to another.
Who is your ideal customer?
Interior designers, architects and people who are visionary, forward thinkers who are not afraid to step out of the box and utilize bold designs into their spaces.
What were some of the challenges in creating your designs and how did you overcome them?
Being a designer is an ever-evolving practice that requires being madly in love with what you do to keep doing it. A lot of effort and even struggle goes into developing an artwork, and just because you have the talent doesn’t mean that things come easy. I believe that raw talent is not enough. It should be nurtured and must go hand by hand with persistence and hard work. The challenge is to constantly balance this trio, which feels like feeding a hungry beast, especially when you’re a one woman show. I love every minute of it, but sometimes I wish I had someone on my shoulder that would say “everything is going to be ok.”
The “Sonia and Rene” collection was the first time I experimented with 3D structures. I was curious about the three-dimensional possibilities hidden in my practice and took a leap of faith into the world of 3D structure. Frankly, when I started, I knew absolutely nothing about it. As someone who used to work with soft materials like yarn and fabrics, working with 3D printing, molds and casting was a steep learning curve. I still have so much to learn and am grateful for Itai Miller, who is an amazing industrial designer and who I have been working with to bring this collection to life. I used to think that I can make it on my own, but I know now that the people around you are those who make the difference. I’m lucky enough to say that I have a great support group of colleagues (shout out to FDC) and friends that keep my sanity intact.
How can you see your work being utilized by designers or manufacturers?
I believe that when you join forces great things happen, so I would love to work with professionals from the A&D community to develop work for interior design – home and commercial spaces. Upholstery, rugs, wall covers and tiles. Anything that can transform a space. My dream is to have a commission space designed from top to bottom –floor to ceiling Tomma Bloom.
Now that you’ve won WantedDesign Launch Pad, what do you plan on doing next?
Being awarded the Best of Launch Pad is a great honor and I am forever grateful to the panel of judges that believed in my practice and most importantly – in me. Along with a pat on the back comes the hunger to push harder and do better. I’m constantly developing new ideas and currently working on my next collection of fabrics.
The “Sonia and Rene” collection is only the tip of iceberg when it comes to experimenting with 3D and textile design. I will present my new collection at the May 2022 Launch Pad, so stay tuned!
Rendering by Itai Miller
Photography by Roni Cnanni
Upholstery by Avivit Porat