In conversation with Kendal Schutt

The award-winning chair designer describes her creative journey and process

BB: You have an impressive body of work for someone so young. How and when did you start? Why did you focus on a line of chairs?

KS: Thank you, I have always had a deep interest in, and appreciation for design: the urban layout of a city; the way a room looks; how we perceive our surroundings; the pen we use to write with, etc.

It all started during a walk, when I was instantly drawn to Osborne & Little’s showroom. I reached out to the manager and offered to work as an unpaid intern. The internship progressed to a job which gave me a solid foundation in interior design. I spent a great deal of time in the library, learning about fabric and the relevant use; different trims that go with certain materials and colours; I taught myself CAD and practiced layouts and modelling at home.

From antiquity to modern times furniture has been an integral part of human civilization and is ever evolving. Designing and making chairs is my favourite way to incorporate beauty, order, and proportion into an interior.

Your line has built traction very quickly, with a number of accolades and even approaches to teach classes. Creativity and inspiration aside, what does it take to establish reputation and clientele in such a competitive environment as product design?

There is, without a doubt, a lot of talent out there. I am appreciative of the admiration for my product and grateful for the support I have received. I believe in working diligently, and in showcasing a unique, recognizable aesthetic in order to stand out in a crowded field.

The key elements for making it in this industry are a deep understanding of it, effective communication with clients and remembering to always ‘go for it’. Of course, the latter is easier said than done: we all go through times when we feel discouraged but perseverance, consistency and out-of-the-box thinking are critical.

Work with curiosity! I like creating things that no one else has; as designers it is our responsibility to innovate and craft timeless and unique creations that represent long term value and quality.

I use the best artisans to help me build beautiful work; we work as a team; I am happy to direction in order to bring my vision to life.

Your chairs are both unusual/striking and pretty, with a nod to classic aestheticism – a far cry from the pared down, industrial look many designers have espoused in the last couple of decades. What kind of look do your clients go for? Maximalist? Eccentric? Or just bespoke?

They are certainly different to most of the product you see today! The look can vary depending on the client and the space, as well as the intended use. Many clients look for unique, bespoke designs that offer a balance between functionality and aesthetics.

How do your chairs integrate with the rest of the interior design and what type of interior do they complement?

I start by asking if the intended use of the chair is to add a special design element to the space, or to serve as a functional entertainment piece, for example.

We have a line that you can customize and then we have limited edition pieces that are not customizable. The latter are collectible and collected as art objects because they are part of a limited edition per collection; we never remake the same product twice, so as to never repeat the same colour/material combination from a collectable piece.

The chairs are complementary to any space and can be designed to fit any environment. They do, however, have a lot of character and are quite distinctive, so it is important to be mindful of the balance and context of the interior as a whole.

Do you plan to extend your line of products, to make other types of furniture and if so, what?

I love what I do and will continue to make chairs. My plans are to design more furniture and I am in the process of finishing a new piece: the B24, our butterfly chair. There are a left and right sitting chairs in this collection, with either one sitting perfectly well on its own. This product will be available for customization.

Are your products available globally?

Yes. While we are located in, and make our pieces in Los Angeles, we do work with clients from all over the world and ship everywhere.