Robby Simon rattles off names in fashion, film and music with fervor, but it’s design maestros like Mies van der Rohe and Ettore Sottsass that make him light up with delight. The largely self-taught artisan, who first dabbled in woodworking as a Boy Scout, sharpened his carpentry skills to bolster his day job as a facilities manager. After apprenticing under fellow Atlanta craftsman Robell Awake, Simon released a duo of capsule collections in 2020: Play.Room and Play.Room 2. Crafted of sustainably harvested hardwoods like walnut, ash and white oak, the made-to-order offerings display luxe details like mortise-and-tenon construction and solid brass inlays. With more on the way soon, Simon shares the scoop.
Why the name Play.Room? My pieces are meant to be seriously fun—playful with a point—and transportive, embodying the imaginative space where ideas are created. I believe the human mind is boundless.
Do you have a design philosophy? Isamu Noguchi said, “All is sculpture.” Similarly, I think of my creations as functional sculptures—works of art meant to be interacted with.
Tell us about your new lamp named for Virgil Abloh. He was an icon, and his death affected me greatly. I studied everything he did and everyone who inspired him. My Abloh lamp incorporates a special type of bulb, housed within the shade itself, inspired by handbags he designed for Off-White.
What’s next for you? I’m releasing new pieces on a rolling basis, and I’d like to learn bent plywood and stack lamination methods, leveraging those to make a skateboard. It’s a very involved process.