The Dwell 24: Crosland + Emmons

The Dwell 24: Crosland + Emmons

By Dwell
Atlanta-based designers Dana Castle and Michele DeHaven design sculptural porcelain light fixtures and earthenware.

For Dana Castle and Michele DeHaven, design offers a different kind of thrill from their day jobs running a marketing agency. Their Atlanta-based lighting studio, Crosland + Emmons (a riff on their middle and maiden names), arose in response to what they perceived to be an absence of elegant, unique fixtures on the market. But the two, both with arts backgrounds, also enjoy the opportunity to use their hands that working in earthenware and porcelain gives them, and they revel in the imperfections of the medium. 

"We want the lights to feel slightly uncomfortable, as if they were unbalanced," Castle says. 

The Grapes Multilight by Crosland + Emmons

The slab-rolled and hand-formed globes of the Jardin and Crown collections possess an eggshell-like quality, their delicacy offset by the sturdy brass stems. "They stand on their own as sculpture," DeHaven adds. It’s no surprise, then, that the pair are expanding their line to include vases and candlesticks. "There are unlimited variations and ideas for us to build on," Castle says.

Learn about Castle's and DeHaven's first encounter with design, plus read more of their responses to our Q&A below.

 Hometowns: Morristown, TN and Minneapolis, MN

Describe what you make in 140 characters. Crosland + Emmons creates lighting and objects that pay homage to the human touch. Our pieces are made from white stoneware and porcelain.

What's the last thing you designed? A prototype pendant light with a beautiful hibiscus cuff to be used in a boutique hotel in Hawaii.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Coffee, and some sort of exercise to clear the head. Usually it starts with unloading a kiln, which is like Christmas—you never know what you will get.

How do you procrastinate? We usually sit around and talk about other artists that we love. Then, we start sharing inspiration, we spend time on Pinterest, we look at Instagram which sadly leads to online shopping... by then the whole day is gone.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? Ugly clothes hangers. Beautiful clothes and closet spaces deserve beautiful hangers...maybe in porcelain.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Giacometti, Picasso...all artists who struggle to make it, but still live their dream. Also, we would both say our parents, who gave us the fearlessness to work for ourselves.

What skill would you most like to learn? Welding and photography.

What is your most treasured possession?

I have encouraged my daughters to paint self portraits over the years since they were very young. They are both in college now. I love each one! —Castle

My dad did sculpture as a hobby, so his sculptures. Also, my own collection of art. —DeHaven

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? 

Painting in high school lead me to SCAD, where I studied graphic design.—DeHaven

My mom is an architect so watching her do her architectural renderings while I was in high school. —Castle

What contemporary design trend do you despise? When someone takes a beautiful midcentury house and takes down all the walls and every design element of the era and leaves a big open room that feels cold and uninspired. It is as if they stripped the house of its identity.

Finish this statement: All design should...make you feel something, have a depth of curiosity to it.

What’s in your dream house? 

An infinity pool. —DeHaven

Midcentury sunken living room. —Castle

Did you pick up any new hobbies or learn a new skill while in quarantine? What was it? 

Photography. —DeHaven

Learned a deeper understanding of the science of ceramic glazing. —Castle

How do you think the pandemic will affect residential design in the future? What about workplace or commercial design? Spaces will be considered more for working at home. Space planning will become much more important. Workplace and commercial—everyone can now rejoice—will have less open offices!

How can the design world be more inclusive? Good design should be achievable for every income level and not just focus on things that most of the world could never afford. Good design does not mean expensive.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? That it is much harder than it looks. 

You can learn more about Crosland + Emmons by visiting their website or on Instagram

The Dwell 24 2020

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