Belfast-born Michael Bell and New Yorker Susan Zelouf met in Rome, and although neither trained formerly, both are passionate about designing and making beautiful, functional furniture. Shane Holland, meanwhile, has extensive experience in metalworking, composites, woods and plastics while his collection is inspired by nature. We caught up with the creators about their work and design ethos.
Zelouf’s musical background plays out in a ‘call and response’ approach to the design process, whereas Bell’s science and engineering expertise means he is an expert problem solver, their deceptively simple pieces relying on complex arithmetic calculations coupled with ingenious engineering, “We don’t fit in, but for us, that’s a strategy.”
The pair make luxe, one-of-a-kind and limited edition studio furniture pieces with stories and tradition behind them. “Each piece is ensouled with the hand of the maker. We believe an artisan’s skills develop with time and deepen with repetition, much like a surgeon’s. We are currently playing with colour and pattern, but a hallmark of our work is the interplay of formal structure with a single bold organic detail.”
At House in the RDS earlier this year, Zelouf+Bell showcased their award-winning pieces alongside a selection of classic pieces they’ve become known for, including the Stones in a Pond cocktail cabinet which was inspired by David Bowie’s Yamamoto vinyl jumpsuit worn during his 1974 Aladdin Sane tour and the curved Briques sideboard.
Also at House in the RDS was Shane Holland, whose lighting and furniture collections have been exhibited in London, Paris, Milan, Frankfurt and Beijing.
“I studied industrial design in NCAD and UL,” Shane begins. “I worked in NCAD for a number of years and and established my own studio in Dublin in 1991. The studio is now in Meath and is known for its diverse bespoke projects. My favourite commisioned piece would be the Tidy Town sculpture in Westport.”
Holland has extensive experience in metalworking, composites, woods and plastics and his collection is inspired by nature, the sea, forests and industry. “I’m known for using primarily metals but like to mix it up with many materials including glass, resins and composites. We strive to create elegance through functionality and expression through art. Our studio has a very open door policy, which leads to diversity which excites us.”
“At House in the RDS earlier this year, we showed our products like the Cymbal, Wilde Cage, Tablins & Stoolins, Rurays and Etangs. We are also made a special feature lighting piece for the bubbles bar including composite aluminium droplets with copper, black and chrome details.”