As the adage goes, with change comes opportunity. Maxine Snider Inc., renowned for exquisite taste and commitment to craftsmanship, heralds a new era as it makes a transition to Honning. This rebranding coincides with the unveiling of innovative product lines that epitomize organic modernism and a deep appreciation for materials and artisanal value. Among them are the Britton Lounge Chair and Footstool, inspired by 1600s English wingback chairs; the Denmark Mirror that takes cues from Copenhagen’s Kalvebod Fælled School and the architectural genius of Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects; and the Hugo Side and Coffee Tables that mirror the aesthetics of the Hugo Cabinet.
“Honning,” the Danish word for honey, is the ideal name for the company’s new chapter. Drawing inspiration from nature’s collaborative marvels, like bee colonies, Bridgette Buckley, principal and director of design, embeds this philosophy into Honning’s very name. In conversation with Newcity, she talks about how the brand’s ethos resonates with the intricate dance of cross-pollination, the seamless blend of varied influences, and a commitment to collaborative genius. Amidst this evolution, the legacy of Maxine Snider remains intact.
“Honning,” the Danish word for honey, draws heavily from the collective ethos of bee colonies. Can you elaborate on how this philosophy will manifest in the company’s design and collaborative approach?
Bees pollinate one thousand or more flowers a day, which ensures the reproductive future of those plants, as well as provides food for the colony in the form of pollen, nectar and eventually honey. These natural systems inspire me, and I’m constantly looking for analogous situations in what I do. So, in this case, I see the design of a product as a cross-pollination of many influences and stimuli. The best products don’t look like a direct reference to something—even if stated so—but a synthesis of many touchpoints, just like bee pollen.
The collaborative aspect of the company that already exists is with the many craftspeople that we work with. There is a constant, ongoing dialogue about how to make the best products, and how to make the clients as pleased as possible. With the new direction of the company, I’d like to bring in other designers to add to the collective voice of the brand. That’s how the hive works too, with many participants working toward creating necessary and exquisite products.
How do you envision Honning preserving the essence of Maxine Snider’s original vision while embracing fresh, diverse perspectives—striking a balance between timeless aesthetics and the constantly evolving trends and demands of the design world?
While building her company, Maxine wholly rejected the idea of being trendy or following any one style, for that matter. She designed and manufactured products that spoke to her, which grew into a beautiful story, really, of her interest in many different periods of design. I intend to also follow the lead of what resonates with me, whether it’s my own design or when bringing in someone else’s.
I see Honning as pulling at the threads of what Maxine established. In the designs that I introduce, even though the primary influences are Scandinavian, there are many other sources of inspiration, some that are apparent, others not as much, and they create a lineage of the brand’s story.
Tell me about the newly-launched products, the Britton Lounge Chair and Footstool and especially, The Denmark Mirror, influenced by the Kalvebod Fælled School’s metal façade. How do you envision this piece playing a role in interior settings, given its strong ties to a specific architectural marvel?
The Britton Lounge Chair and Footstool are influenced by Mogens Koch, whose work exudes rationalism but also negotiates between achingly restrained beauty and comfort. I wanted to create a lounge chair that was like getting a nice big hug, and this achieves that. Along with the footstool, it’s like an old friend putting their arm around you and telling you everything’s going to be alright. The lines of the chair are really pleasing when seeing it in a room. The Denmark Mirror is a phantasmagory of craftsmanship but does so quietly. It’s the kind of piece that might go unnoticed in a room, as it diligently goes about its job as a mirror, but as soon as you start studying the frame you realize the complexity of the geometry and construction. For that reason, I think it would be at home in a purely modern setting, or a maximalist’s dream.
What are you most excited about moving forward?
I’m most excited about seeing how the collective voice of the brand evolves. Right now, it will be the work of Maxine and myself, but by next year I want to start adding other designers’ work which will develop the identity, aesthetic and ethos of the company even further. It will be like a living organism that takes new shape as time goes on. I’m always excited at the possibility of working with additional craftspeople and forging new relationships, too. With all the talented makers and artisans here in Chicago alone, there are so many possibilities.
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