The Judges: Amy Butler, David Netto, & BUILT

The Judges: Amy Butler, David Netto, & BUILT

Maxwell Ryan
Sep 23, 2010

Here they are! Our 2010 Design Showcase judges include some of our favorite designers, and each one represents a different perspective from the field. I think you all know Amy, a fabric and product designer whose work continually appears on the pages of Apartment Therapy. David, another luminary, has continually reinvented himself and found success in the worlds of interior design, children's furniture design, and product design. John and Aaron have redefined portable design with BUILT's line of colorful neoprene totes. All of these people have a sharp eye and smart things to say. Find out more about them below.

Their job begins next week, when they'll choose their favorites from our six Design Showcase finalists. The one that gathers the most votes from all three judges will be this year's Judges' Choice Winner and they'll receive $10k in advertising on our network and daily emails. We'll also be announcing a Readers' Choice Winner, the design that gathers the most votes from readers. For details on next week's voting, click here.


TITLE: Designer

BIO: Amy Butler is a creative designer known for her sophisticated yet relaxed modern approach to printed fabrics and products for home, fashion and craft. As a sewing pattern designer, she has brought modern styling to the sewing arts and inspired a new generation of young women to " Find their own style." With millions of hits a month on her website and numerous editorial appearances, Amy's growing brand has become synonymous with creativity, sustainability, quality and great style. Amy works from her studio in Central Ohio with her husband, cats and a small staff of amazing friends. Her fabrics, patterns, handbags, design and project books & home decor products are sold worldwide.

This embroidery sampler is one that my Grandmother Velma created in 1973. She was a very creative and prolific artist, and her passion for the sewing arts, drawing and painting inspired me from a very young age. If it wasn't for my Grandmother and Mother (who still sews and knits, draws and paints) I may not have followed this creative calling!


TITLE: Designer

BIO: Some designers are born, some are made, and some make themselves. David Netto was made a designer by the preppy austerity of his family's early 1970's style, which seemed at times to be a mingling of The Virgin Suicides and The Leopard. He grew up in New York and Long Island, surrounded by people who were successful at getting into boarding school, lacrosse, and attaining jobs in finance. David was none of the above. To read David's full bio, click here.

FAVORITE DESIGN: My favorite thing that I own, which constantly inspires me, is a ragged pair of PK 31 chairs by Poul Kjaerholm, which I bought in Sweden in 2004. The leather is beyond patinaed, and to me it makes them even more beautiful than if they were in great condition. They embody everything I aspire to in my own work and which to me are the only relevant tests of quality in modern design:

They speak of their own time, and continue to teach us in ours about beauty and efficiency of form. They have never been knocked off, because Kjaerholm's designs are not reproducible with corners cut: they ARE, or they aren't. Not true about everybody, believe me. They manage to have an identity, which is both handmade and modern, which is very Scandinavian. They look good as a ruin. Will this be true about Marc Newsom's furniture? Hmmm...


TITLE: Founders of BUILT

JOHN'S BIO: "Designing and making wonderful things for people—that's how I was going to contribute." This was the decision John Roscoe Swartz made in his early 20's upon entering graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art. His two years there, where he studied art and design, and his life altogether has been what he calls "a great big exploration." To read John's full bio, click here.

AARON'S BIO: Product design. It's been a part of Aaron Lown's life from the get-go. Literally. Raised in Bangor, Maine, his grandfather owned the Lown Shoe Co. and Penobscot Shoe Co., which his father eventually took over. "I basically grew up around shoe prototypes and leather swatches. My dad was always bringing home pieces of leather samples saying, 'feel this, smell this.'" To read Aaron's full bio, click here.


La Cupola by Aldo Rossi
I left the corn fields of Ohio when was 18 to study art and design in Italy for a year. There were several events that changed my life in that year, and one of them was stumbling into my first Alessi store and discovering the La Cupola coffee pot. It is one of those singular designs that pushes all the right buttons for what I consider great design. It causes an immediate emotional reaction that demands you give it your attention whether you like it or not. It references a nostalgic historic form but renders it in modern sleek zinc, more like a bullet than a bell tower. It plays with your sense of scale the way a bonsai tree does, proven in the fact that La Cupola comes in many sizes, all impossible to tell which is the bigger or smaller without close inspection. No doubt it is an erotic form as well, open to many interpretations, but all end with a cherry on top — that is the round ball that is the handle for the lid. And best of all, it makes a great cup of coffee.


Candlesticks (designer unknown)
I love these things. A steel plug is driven into a chunk of red hot iron, forming the cavity in which a candle will ultimately fit, and at the same moment the hammer blow creates the final form of this product. The design of these is really the process. This could be mass produced, and each one would be one of a kind. I am constantly inspired by them.

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