Dana Brandwein and Daniel Oates don’t just take inspiration from the nature; they actually use it as a tool in their dbO Home ceramics studio. The duo creates fantastic debossed patterns with flowers and botanicals collected from around their Connecticut home. We love the results, which is why west elm and dbO Home are now on our third collaboration together! Explore the dbO studio and the woodsy surroundings so omnipresent in their work.
Tell us about your studio! What are its biggest challenges and perks?
My studio is a mess. We have so much going on in the small space that it’s all about finding space not how it looks. Someday I hope to have a beautiful, organized and spotless studio that reflects our point of view. For now we do have a gorgeous view out the glaze room windows, and I still surround myself with rock posters and gold albums from my past life.
When sketching new ideas or putting my inspiration book together, I head for my bedroom in the winter. It has 7 windows looking out on to 100 acres of wetland. In the summer, my pallet wood chaise on our stone patio has the same view.
What’s your studio practice like?
I work like I cook. I may have something in mind, perhaps even a sketch, but I work without real plans. There is a freeness in cooking, whereas with baking you must be precise for the right outcome. I like to cook, not bake. And the result is just like my cooking – spontaneous, clean, simple and slightly rustic.
What’s your approach to decorating at home?
My approach to decorating is much the same as my work. I want things to feel good, be comfortable and to stand the test of time – so I like to combine textures. We have a lot of wood, stone and soft textural textiles. Old pieces mixed with new. Things we make mixed with things made by friends. I try to add a pop of color in each room.
Where are some of your favorite sources of inspiration?
It can come from anywhere. My obvious inspiration is nature, and we live and work surrounded by lots of natural beauty. I am also a magazine junkie, and hang on to the really good shelter and food magazines. I always find inspiration in them – whether it’s a product idea, a color palette or a way to put things together. For instance, I got the idea for our popular Broken Egg Bowls from a mayonnaise ad in Living Etc.!
Tell us about your newest collaboration with west elm. What’s the story behind the Birch Dinnerware?
There are a lot of birch trees in New England. They are extremely beautiful especially in winter when all you can see is there unusual white bark. I rolled some bark into the clay to see what would happen and it looked terrific. So I did a collection of pieces for dbO Home using this pattern. For this collaboration with West Elm we reconfigured the design. I used even gnarlier birch bark to make the imprint less subtle. Using actual birch bark that was fairly rough gave the pieces a terrific updated texture.
You can see more dbO Home designs on their website.
Images: west elm