Meet 7 Design Curators Of Cool Making Their Marks


Meet the trailblazers who are shaking up design with spaces that are part showroom, part gallery.

Curators of Cool

PHOTO: Lauren Coleman

The Future Perfect, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles

Cool Factor: Just walking into The Future Perfect‘s showroom in downtown Manhattan makes you instantly feel more in-the-know. Partnering with designers like glass sculptor John Hogan and ceramicist Eric Roinestad on exclusive collections, TFP consistently delivers covetable furniture and objets that can’t be found anywhere else. “We take a lot of time transforming the spaces and pushing the displays so that every time you visit, it’s going to be different,” says owner David Alhadeff. With the addition of a San Francisco outpost and the new appointment-only Casa Perfect showcase, housed in a private residence in the West Hollywood Hills, Alhadeff is quickly weaving his web of design influence across the country. The goal is to create a destination for clients who yearn for unexpected, utterly unique items and will go just about anywhere to find them.

Scouting Talent: For Alhadeff, trade shows like Salone del Mobile in Milan, the London Design Festival and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York are important for networking and developing relationships with new designers.

On His Forecast: New collections from Jonathan Cross, Christopher Stuart and Chris Wolston.

Curators of Cool

PHOTO: Giovanni Gastel

Curators of Cool

PHOTO: Nico Zupanc

Galleria Rossana Orlandi, Milan

Cool Factor: Fifteen years ago, Rossana Orlandi founded her eponymous gallery in a former tie factory as a way to transform her passion for art collection into a multifarious platform for design. Showcasing avant-garde works in a fluid space in Milan’s Magenta district, Orlandi’s gallery demonstrates her eclectic taste and influential reach. Case in point: Her focus on the work of emerging Dutch designers recently earned her a visit from the King and Queen of Holland, who traveled to Milan to learn about the work of Dutch talents such as Guglielmo Poletti and Sander Wassink. Of her hunt for the latest talent, Orlandi says, “I always search for designers who have a story to tell. Not only the object, but the story behind it, captures me.”

Scouting Talent: Exhibitions at arts schools throughout the world are important to Orlandi–this is where she finds many of the emerging designers that eventually join her roster.

On Her Forecast: Furniture designer Piet Hein Eek is a longtime favorite.

Curators of Cool
Curators of Cool

PHOTOS: Daniel Villareal

Coup D’Etat, San Francisco

Cool Factor: This cavernous showroom is home to rare antiques, including vintage Italian furniture, original works from founder Darin Geise’s own line and stunning pieces from the likes of Ashley Tudor, Damian Jones and Christopher Kreiling. Geise cemented his place in the industry by buying and selling antiques out of a warehouse where he lived and worked, later earning a spot in the exclusive San Francisco Design Center before branching out to a location across the street: “I created these dynamic installations, had amazing parties and put the store on the map as a real spot in the center that was changing the way people looked at antiques,” he says. Today, his creative team reimagines the 8,000-square-foot space’s displays every 10 weeks, so the offerings always feel fresh. “It’s definitely not your stereotypical showroom,” says Geise.

Scouting Talent: Geise describes himself as always being “on the prowl” for new product. He combs design fairs and shows throughout the world, focusing on France and Italy for antiques and Scandinavia for collectable furniture.

On His Forecast: “We just started representing artist Kelly Kiefer, who does amazing light sculptures,” he says. There are also plans to expand the Coup Studio brand across the country.

Curators of Cool
Curators of Cool

PHOTOS: Courtesy Volume Gallery

Volume Gallery, Chicago

Cool Factor: Formed by Claire Warner and Sam Vinz, Chicago’s Volume Gallery features a roster that includes textile designer Christy Matson and ceramicist Anders Ruhwald, among others. Back in 2008, Warner and Vinz met through a mutual friend, designer Jonathan Nesci, and soon launched their first solo exhibition in their space. After seven years working together, the pair believes their bond is kismet. “For us, it’s always about people working at the peak of their abilities and pushing their respective mediums forward,” says Vinz. Volume plays host to approximately five solo exhibits and three group shows a year, and acts as an incubator for artistic experimentation for creatives like architectural firm Krueck + Sexton, whose solo exhibition begins in September.

Scouting Talent: Warner and Vinz follow current events to evaluate artists’ relevance in the context of what’s happening in the world; plus, they love to connect with artists on Instagram to get a sense of what they’re working on in real time.

On Their Forecast: Ross Hansen, whose work as a landscape architect informs his furniture design through exploration of the convergence of materiality and form.

Curators of Cool

PHOTO: Stephen Buskin

Curators of Cool

PHOTO: Ross Floyd

Blackman Cruz, Los Angeles

Cool Factor: Housed in a former legendary nightclub, this 9,500-square-foot gallery from design visionaries Adam Blackman and David Cruz has a quintessentially L.A. vibe, thanks in part to a view of the Hollywood sign. But the real draw is what’s inside: a treasure trove of furniture, lighting and art, representing designers including Lindsey Adelman, Gianni Vallino and Dan Pollock, to name a few. Finding new design talent seems to be in the partners’ DNA: “We both feel the same way; it’s all about the hunt,” says Blackman. Whimsical antique finds and custom-made case goods round out the selection, which is a bottomless resource for some of the most creative people in the world.

Scouting Talent: Italy and London are two of the most inspiring locales for the pair, though they each do their own scouting trips, which results in a fascinating melting pot of pieces from different eras and origins.

On Their Forecast: Both are fond of L.A. interior designer Jane Hallworth, whose furniture and lighting combine imaginative storytelling elements with a modern sensibility.