Known for blending disparate textures and periods to create a new, unique whole, Gil Melott of Chicago-based Studio 6F has just launched a capsule collection of urban-focused furniture and lighting. Called Gil Melott Bespoke, the line incorporates materials from his childhood in Texas like refined bronze and rich woods to artfully transform living spaces. We spoke with Melott about the inspiration behind these pieces, the ways in which he designs for city living, and the one mistake to avoid when planning an apartment layout.
Q: Your Gil Melott Bespoke collection is focused on urban dwellers; how were the pieces developed with this type of customer in mind?
A: In everything we develop, we begin with understanding who uses our pieces. We have created our work for design-savvy people who see form and function going hand in hand. These are folks who believe that style shouldn’t be lost at the expense of utility.
Q: You talk about creating pieces that are scaled appropriately for city dwelling; what kinds of design choices are right for people in big cities?
A: Creating appropriately scaled furniture is our first priority. The fact that many of our clients live in urban locations was the impetus behind getting started for sure. So many large production-run pieces tend to negate the fact that a large subsection of buyers live in places where a giant sectional and coffee table will not fit through the front door and up the stairs. Or often the seat depth or height aren’t right for the scale of the room. The luxury of having bespoke items is the ability to customize pieces in a variety of ways. The checks and balances for me are always, “do the humans and the furniture and the art have room to breathe when they are in a room together?”
Q: What types of mistakes should people avoid in these kinds of homes?
A: Not owning a measuring tape. Trusting your eye as it swings from your iPad and a Pinterest board to the empty spot in the corner and saying, “that should fit nicely right there” without ever measuring the space — now that is a mistake easily avoided!
Q: As a designer, did you see a void in the market you wanted your products to fill? How did you decide where to start with product development?
A: Every client deserves the perfect pieces for their home. When I consistently could not find things like sofas and lighting that, either stylistically or spatially, worked in my designs, I went to the drawing board to develop my own. I targeted key pieces that would work as foundational elements in most homes. I plan on expanding the collection from there in the next quarter.
Q: Your capsule collection includes seating and lighting. What are some of the differences in terms of how you approach design for each category?
A: We pride ourselves on our one-on-one relationships with our craftspeople. And over the years, we’ve learned that the approach differs when you’re talking to your carpenter (who is fabricating our sofa base by hand before upholstering it) versus your metalworker (who is pouring the wax to create the mould that he will eventually melt and fill with molten bronze). Learning to adapt your ideas to each craftsperson’s process is an art within itself, as the individual steps crucially inform the final product.
Q: How does your upbringing affect the type of products you create?
A: I spent a great deal of my life in Texas, and much of that within south central Texas. I labored alongside my uncles working cattle and putting up miles of fencing, but I also learned the art of “crafted necessity.” Taking pieces of scrap timber from those fences and translating them into an extra chair for the dining table. Converting bags of weather worn pearl button western shirts into wedding quilts. My upbringing encouraged me to inform the images or items from my environment into useful, beautiful and memorable storied pieces. The idea is to create a future heirloom layered with the history it accumulates.
Q: What sort of customization do you offer on the pieces you develop?
A: Every item we have created exists with the understanding that it needs to work within varied interpretations of environment and aesthetic. We have the ability to offer multiple sizes, finishes and species of wood — with all fabrics and leathers to the customer’s own spec on our upholstered pieces. On the Luz lighting series, the bronze can be finished in a variety of patinas.
Q: What kinds of products are you looking to create next?
A: We are very excited to be expanding our Luz lighting series, as well as adding a lounge chair variation to the Flotar seating. We will be adding to the overall collection with a series of coffee tables by Spring 2020, and are in the preliminary developmental stages of a namesake fabric collection.