In 2015, when designers and roommates Reed Hansuld and Joel Seigle founded Harold (each has a grandfather by that name), they began by creating clever household items that could offer customers good design at affordable prices: a sculptural brass corkscrew, a leather wall-mounted catchall, and a U-shaped key chain. But as Harold grew, Hansuld and Seigle began branching out into higher-end items, too, like well-crafted walnut tables and elegant modern mirrors.
Their Bend table, a finalist for this year’s NYCxDesign Best in Show award, features an oval-shaped surface that has the appearance of being punched out of a larger piece of timber. Like many of us in recent months, the designers found themselves baking an inordinate amount of bread. Which, for Harold, means even more ideas: "Perhaps a modern-designed sourdough tool kit ready in time for the holiday season," Seigle hints.
Learn why Seigle treasures a vintage waffle iron and Hansuld will never let go of his moon photos— plus read more of their responses to our Q&A—below.
Elgin, IL —Seigle
Toronto, Ontario, Canada —Hansuld
Describe what you make in 140 characters. Our studio, Harold, makes a range of furniture and products with a focus on functionality and user experience with a modern aesthetic.
What's the last thing you designed?
2020 has been a very unexpected year—the last thing I designed was a protest sign. —Seigle
Well, I recently moved into a new apartment, so very function driven things, like shelving, dish racks, etc. —Hansuld
Do you have a daily creative ritual?
Everyday I stop and take a moment to watch the sunset over the Manhattan skyline. This short, transitional time acts as a creative recharge. The unique beauty of colors and shapes is thought provoking inspiration only nature can provide. —Seigle
We try to go out onto the pier in Red Hook, where our studio is located, and watch the sunset everyday. There is something mesmerizing about watching the sun dip away from the day that has always proven to be a good time to reflect. —Hansuld
How do you procrastinate?
I'm a music addict. If I'm not building or designing something in the shop you can usually find me dancing to tunes streamed from my favorite local music source, The Lot Radio. They also have a chat room function so I'm known to fall into that black hole from time to time. —Seigle
Cleaning and organizing. Everything has its place. —Hansuld
What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why?
This is a question I ask myself daily. Currently trying to redesign the back of my truck into a camper. —Seigle
I enjoy redesigning the objects I use everyday to better function in my routines. They're seldomly intended to become marketable products, but I find a lot of joy in creating objects that improve my user experience. Spatulas that are shaped to match the bottom of my cast iron pan, cutting boards that hang over the sink to dry, etc. —Hansuld
Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)?
I've idolized the immersive works of James Turrell after experiencing them at MASS MoCA. Put best by Turrell himself, "My work has no object, no image, and no focus. With no object, no image, and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought." This experience of wordless thought is essential to maintaining a healthy mind and we as a society need more of this truly thought provoking work. —Seigle
I love the way that Max Lamb showcases his pieces in conjunction with his process. Coming from a craft background I have endless respect for those that have devoted their lives to bettering themselves through the pursuit of fine craft and am always enamored with the process. —Hansuld
What skill would you most like to learn?
I’d like to learn how to blow glass. I worked with a master glass blower, Adam Holtzinger, to produce an ashtray I designed for a show in Paris. It was such a joy to watch his elegant dance with the molten glass. Certainly a skill that takes a lifetime to master. —Seigle
From a craft standpoint I would like to learn more about ceramics, its a medium I've only played with a handful of times but every time the hours seems to pass in a blink of the eye. From a non-craft standpoint, piano. I grew up playing instruments but piano was never one of them, as I get older I find myself more and more drawn to those 88 keys. —Hansuld
What is your most treasured possession?
I treasure my 1908 Griswold Cast Iron Waffle Iron. To me, it's the pinnacle of good design. Simple, functional, long lasting, and makes killer waffles.—Seigle
I have a series of eight photos of the moon, taken in the 1930's, that I found in my grandmother's rolltop desk. It had been locked and unable to be opened for years. She remembers them being her uncles. —Hansuld
What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design?
I spent a lot of time in my formative years walking through the woods with my grandfather, who was an avid collector of walking sticks. While many sticks from his collection were simply fallen branches, the conscious thought of "that is a perfect walking stick" paired with a slight modification made by a pocket knife was my first encounter with design.—Seigle
I grew up on the water and was always pretty obsessed with boats. I was constantly watching the boats and deciphering the different hull shapes and the way they functioned on the water. It eventually led me to build boats in my early teenage years. —Hansuld
What contemporary design trend do you despise?
My blood boils when I tell people I design furniture and they ask if I can make a live edge table with a resin waterfall. —Seigle
Who has the energy to despise a design trend? Sure there are hoards of trends that don't resonate with me personally, but some people love them. This world would be an awfully boring place to exist if we all liked the same things. Not to mention our society is definitely at a place where we could use a bit more compassion and empathy in trying to understand the things we don't like or agree with. —Hansuld
Finish this statement: All design should...
...be obvious, simple, and responsible. —Seigle
...show intention. —Hansuld
What’s in your dream house?
A waterbed and a lava lamp. —Seigle
A bed frame...one day. —Hansuld
Did you pick up any new hobbies or learn a new skill while in quarantine? What was it?
Baking sourdough bread. I’m officially a hipster. —Seigle
I also started baking sourdough. Label us as you will, but the bread is delicious. —Hansuld
How do you think the pandemic will affect residential design in the future? What about workplace or commercial design?
The pandemic brought a new outlook on adaptability. Change is inevitable but never have we been forced to change so much in such a short timeframe. In the future I imagine spaces and furniture to be designed with the intention of being adaptable. Millions of people have been challenged to turn their kitchen table into an office, a class room, and back to a table for dinner. It's up to designers to help facilitate these transformations. —Seigle
Residentially I think the obvious short term change will be a push for multi-use pieces of furniture as people integrate further into a work-from-home environment. Workplace and commercial will adapt to help with social distancing / containing potential germs. In the longer term, it's anyones guess, but I'd imagine there will be a continued refinement of what we need to protect ourselves as we learn more and more about how the virus spreads. —Hansuld
How can the design world be more inclusive?
With the accessibility of social media I’ve witnessed the design world being more inclusive. The traditional path of going to art school and then moving to a city is no longer the only way to have a voice and be recognized. Simply having an instagram account with original content can launch you straight into the center of the design world. —Seigle
Social media has made the design world more inclusive than ever before, but also presents a whole other slew of challenges. Truthfully, I'm not sure. —Hansuld
What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry?
The journey from initial idea to final product can be a long and windy road. Sometimes your GPS reroutes and you forget what address you first typed in. —Seigle
It'd be cool but completely unrealistic for people to understand the time everything takes. Our society has become so on-demand. I think a lot of people are completely unaware of just long and arduous a process it can be to bring an object into the world. I have no way of knowing how to better inform the masses and don't know that the masses would be that interested to be honest. —Hansuld
The Dwell 24 2020
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