Meet the Faces Behind Our Furniture Issue

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By Dwell
The writers and photographers that made our October 2016 issue possible.
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Nick Ballon

A documentary and portrait photographer based in London, Nick Ballon traveled to Brussels to capture the 19th-century residence of designer Danny Venlet and his family. "Once we had finished our first day of shooting, we went out for dinner and drank a little too much wine
at a local fish restaurant called Le Vismet," he recalls. "It’s heartwarming to know that although you might be in the center of a busy city, you can always step out and find a friendly place to eat." Ballon’s first book, Ezekiel 36:36, is a visual study of Bolivia’s national airline. 

If you could own any furniture item, what would you choose? 

"I’m a fan of Donald Judd’s minimalist sensibilities to furniture making and the crossovers to his art. His 1985 prototype for the library chair is a favorite."

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Simon Doonan 

Fashion commentator Simon Doonan has written regularly for the New York Observer, the Daily Beast, and Slate. Doonan, who is also the creative ambassador for Barneys New York, has been recognized with a CFDA Award for his imaginative window displays. For this issue, he reported on a 1967 structure in Pleasant Valley, New York, that Damen Seminero and Cain Semrad carefully revived. "The shape of the house is so unexpected and peculiar," Doonan says. "It was like coming upon a mythological beast crouching in the woods." 

If you could own any furniture item, what would you choose? 

"I have always fantasized about having a circular bed. Very Barbarella." 

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Laura Mauk

Design writer and editor Laura Mauk penned a story on the French countryside retreat of Russell Pinch and Oona Bannon, who helm the British furniture brand Pinch. "Without any building experience, Russell and Oona rebuilt their home in France almost completely by themselves," Mauk notes. "I can barely clean my own house, let alone rebuild one!" Mauk’s work has been published in Paper, Allure, Bookforum, and Interiors, among others. 

Favorite piece of furniture in your home?

"A Lucite side table designed by Karim Rashid. It’s transparent, so in visual effect, it takes up zero space, but it looks ethereal when the sunlight hits it." 

Zahid Sardar 

The editor-in-chief of Marin At Home magazine, Zahid Sardar is a San Francisco–based curator and journalist. In this issue, he writes about the creative renovation undertaken by designer Danny Venlet and his wife, Evi. "What was once a series of small dark rooms is now a loftlike open-plan space," Sardar says. "New elm wood floors contrast well with old cast-iron neoclassical columns and steel beams." Sardar’s writing has appeared in many publications, including Interior Design, Elle Decor, and the San Francisco Chronicle, for which he previously served as design editor. 

 Favorite piece of furniture in your home?

"Two Jacobean-style teak chairs made in India more than a hundred years ago." 

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Simon Watson

Splitting his time between Dublin and New York, photographer Simon Watson has shot for a range of clients, including W, Travel + Leisure, and Herman Miller. Venturing to a retreat in France for the story that begins on page 108, Watson bonded with the owners, Russell Pinch and Oona Bannon. "We enjoyed conversing about everything, really," he says. "We have a lot in common: They’re English and I’m Irish. They couldn’t have been more welcoming." 

 Favorite piece of furniture in your home?

"My Saarinen table. I got it when I arrived in New York in the late ’80s . . . they were most unfashionable then. It’s a great table—never out of fashion in my world."