The second question I wanted to ask you is about style. President Camacho from Idiocracy [who Terry Crews plays in the film] is by far the greatest president in cinematic history. You have a certain presence. That dancing is iconic in film history at this point. There’s a certain sensibility or personality with you. There’s this kind of charisma around you, which translates a lot of times into style. You’ve already designed your own house. You’ve also done these paintings. The question is, what can we expect to see in terms of your work? What can we expect to see in terms of your design as far as style goes? You know, it’s weird. That’s a great question because I, for one, feel like some people get things mixed up with flash and shock and then they call it style. I’ve seen it in entertainment where jokes become insulting as opposed to informative and insightful. I’ve seen even design itself get very cynical, which is something you really have to watch because as an artist I don’t want to offend, but I always want to be bold. Bold is the most important trait that I have and the good thing is that bold has nothing to do with personality. I’ve seen people who were very meek, very withdrawn or even sanguine or melancholy, but they were extremely bold. My wife is my best confidant because I put stuff out there. I always run everything by her first. I want to make sure that I differentiate the loudness and craziness and shock jock kind of thing from actual boldness. To me, when you say bold, I’m thinking full throttle and focused. Oh, that sounds good. I’m stealing that. You know what? You just summed it all up right there. Full throttle, focused, that’s me. Yeah, but you’re right. When you see somebody that’s literally obsessed and they’re so focused and it gets better and better and better and better, over the whole incarnation, you go, holy cow … I’ve watched other people do that, and like I said, it’s not about being crazy and dancing around and putting lights on it and sparklers. It’s like, holy cow, look at that. I’m with you, man. Next, I want to ask about process. As a film actor, probably there’s a preparation process that’s unfamiliar to designers and I wonder how you might translate that into design. You know what? Because I made all the mistakes and art is art, be it acting, drawing, designing, architecture, it’s all art and fear is your enemy. It’s your enemy. For an actor, there’s a point where you spend years overcoming fear. I’ll tell you about my first job. I was working on a movie called The Sixth Day with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the first movie I ever did. My job was to come up on the steps of his home and tell Arnold, "Hey, Adam Gibson, you’re coming with us." And he looks at me and he says all this stuff. That’s how the scene’s supposed to go. Well, the scene started. I go in, I walk up to him and nothing comes out of my mouth. I was scared to death. Instantly, I was like, I don’t belong here. I’m a football player, I have no skills. I don’t know what this is, and I doubted everything about myself and in a split second, I mean it was like, brrrr! Magically, something went wrong with the camera, which was crazy, and they had to shut everything down and all that and they said, Terry, we’re going to take a break, something is wrong with the camera, we’re going to just take five minutes. Now, they didn’t notice that I suck, but that’s what happened and I went to the side and I said, Terry, what are you doing? And I remember feeling like, if you don’t do this, you’re never going to get this opportunity again. And I used that energy and I went back at them and I looked at Arnold and I’m like, "I’m here, sir and you’re coming with us." And he was like [imitating Arnold saying his lines] and I was like, “Oh my God.” And let me tell you something, I learned something that day – you have to trust yourself. I was even so stuck on this furniture, and then I came up with a story for it and all of a sudden it started making itself. I think you’re absolutely right. I get nervous, I worry about stuff. This is super therapeutic, actually. It is. I’ve been there with you, man. It’s a hard thing, but practice makes it easier. Let’s go to the next question, which is about transformation or metamorphosis. You’re a person who’s gone through this once. You went from being an NFL player to a film actor, and now you’re about to go through it again. And during our Terry Crews week, we stumbled on your Sesame Street episode … violinist, sculpture, mime. So, here, you’re about to undergo this metamorphosis once again. Are there things that you can take away from the first time that will teach you again? First of all, being a football player is a very limiting world. It’s very, very limiting. People already have so many preconceived notions of who you are because it’s almost like a cookie cutter. But you have to understand the football thing and the art thing has never been separate with me, ever. When I went to college, I would go to the little art classes with the people in black who were so sad and I was like, Hey you all, how are you all doing? I got my letterman jacket on, I was like, alright! And then I go right to practice after that and people … there were others that had issues. Now, I know I’m an artist. I know what I do. And then when Jerry Helling, the President of Bernhardt Design came to me and said, "I want to do something with you," and I’m like, "Cool, we can find a designer, we can… " He’s like, "No, no, no, no, no. I want you to design it—pivot time." It just went back to – we need you, we know you’re a linebacker, but we need you to play defensive end on this point. We know you do drama, but here’s comedy right here. I’m the riskiest guy ever. I try everything. They were like, we want you to host the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." I was like, okay, and I didn’t know what I was doing. I mean, look at Regis and look at me. I got a 200-pound difference, me and Regis or any other host they have, Meredith Vieira. But I said, you know what? This is where all the action is and it’s funny because I’m thankful. By this practice of doing this, I’ve built a career where no one is shocked at what I’m doing. So, that’s a long answer to that question. These are deep questions. They’re so good. Beautiful answer. I really admire your courage. This takes so much courage. Words can’t really describe how thankful I am that you’re here and so glad to be sitting here with you and having this conversation. We’re really looking forward to your design. My pleasure, man. This is awesome. I love this world. I love this. Thank you, guys.
Posts tagged with "Bernhardt Design":
In 1981, Lenoir, North Carolina–based Bernhardt Furniture Company founded Bernhardt Design with a mission to focus more internationally and to cultivate a roster of established and new talent. Jerry Helling has been president and creative director of Bernhardt Design since 1991 and has established a number of initiatives, including an interdisciplinary course with the world-renowned ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena and ICFF Studio, a scholarship program that provides exposure for emerging designers. Helling and The Architect's Newspaper's Editor-in-Chief William Menking discuss Bernhardt Design’s past, present, and future.
The Architect’s Newspaper: You have been president and creative director of Bernhardt Design since 1991, and in that time it has become a company known to value good contemporary furniture design. Were you brought into the company to push design thinking, or did you come to realize its importance in the marketplace?
Jerry Helling: I’m usually accused of being ahead of the curve, which is probably accurate. I had a hard time understanding why the American market was still so rooted in historical reproductions when other countries were doing interesting contemporary design. I decided to change direction and see if we could find a market in America for well-designed contemporary furniture. It was a big risk and it took ten years to really catch on. Some of our best pieces were discontinued in the early 2000s because people didn’t understand them or want them at the time. You must remember this was before the re-emergence of the Eameses and the entire midcentury catalogue. Design Within Reach hadn’t opened yet in the mid-’90s, so it was difficult to educate an audience on the value of original design.
Do you see contemporary furniture becoming more appreciated by American consumers?
Yes, definitely—it is fashionable and it sells, so everyone is interested in it now. There are a number of reasons why this entire phenomenon has coalesced and it is hard to pinpoint a turning point.
Design became a business buzzword and many studies and books were written about design thinking in everything we do. The media started covering design in a major way and that brought it into the public consciousness, and Design Within Reach’s outreach to consumers helped too. The idea that everything goes in cycles also played a role; in America we were ready for a new modern design cycle, which the Europeans had adopted after the Second World War and continue to support. The interesting point of all this is that at first, you think it is driven by the younger generation, when in fact the baby boomers are fueling the demand. They are leaving their homes filled with family antiques and want to downsize with modern furniture and accessories. I find the younger generation more eclectic, combining modern furniture with flea market items, IKEA, and traditional furniture. They are less likely to be driven by trends.
You are well known for your support of design education and mentoring of young designers. What brought you to focus on education?
It was purely a matter of need. While design students receive a wonderful education in design, they don’t receive much guidance regarding what to do after they graduate. How do you present your ideas and concepts to manufacturers? How do you create designs that can be manufactured and that people want to buy? This has been the basis of our annual program with ArtCenter College of Design—striving to give students a real-life design experience before they graduate. From there we moved on to creating ICFF Studio, a platform to help young designers once they have graduated and need exposure to manufacturers, retail, and the press.
What initiatives are you working on at the moment that excite you?
I’m pleased that we are presenting the American Design Honors award to a wonderful couple from Oregon called Studio Gorm. They are doing interesting and exciting work and I Iook forward to people being introduced to them.
We are also doing a project under the title of “The Creatives.” It features actor Terry Crews, Grammy-nominated singer Tift Merritt, and Airbnb cofounder Joe Gebbia. People will have to visit ICFF to see what it is all about, but I can say their work is great and you won’t be disappointed!
CH Bench, Itoki Design Designed by Jeff Miller, the CH Bench can be assembled in an infinite number of configurations. Available in black, white, yellow, green, and gray, the one piece LLDPE bench can be used alone or in groups.
Highline Cradenza, Datesweiser Part of a new collection of credenzas and conference tables, this piece has strong architectural lines with stainless steel legs. The cradenzas are vailable in a variety of wood, corian, glass, and marble finishes and door, drawer, and tray configurations.
Levy, Bernhardt Design The Levy chair, named for designer Arik Levy, has a slim, minimal profile that puts its design a notch above the average stackable. The chairs also meet Greenguard air quality standards.
Horizon, Humanscale This slim, dimmable LED task lamp creates an large plane of even, warm light. Simple ball joints at the base and lamp allow for easy movement.
Adamick Screen, Haworth This acrylic space divider is easily assembled from flatpacked units. Designed by Chris Adamick, the screen is available in white, organge, cranberry, and gray.
Dama Coffee Table, CR&S Poliform The Dama Coffee Table by CR&S adapts to a range of room configurations and styles. The seamless, solid-wood table is approximately 13 by 18 inches and is available in canaletto walnut and cedarwood finishes.
Seek, Allsteel Allsteel’s Seek lightweight chair has three storage configurations, allowing it to be stacked and nested without racks or trolleys. Available in eight colors with optional arms and a cushioned seat, a flexing back and ergonomic design make it a more comfortable folding chair, and a healthier one, too. Seek is expected to qualify for SCS Indoor Advantage Gold certification for air quality.
Lyra Collection, KI The Lyra collection from KI aims to fill a gap between formal and informal furniture. Bases are available in wood or steel, along with several upholstery combinations, allowing the lounge chairs, loveseats, and tables to adapt to modern or traditional environments.
Curio Table, Bernhardt Design Designed by Claudia and Harry Washington for Bernhardt Design, the Curio table is available in bright or muted lacquered colors, but also in a range of natural wood finishes for a more reserved look. The beveled top is available in 19-, 22-, and 42-inch diameters and is sturdy enough to accommodate a glass or Corian surface for high-traffic areas.
Urban Metallics, Carnegie The Urban Metallics collection is Carnegie’s newest addition to its Surface IQ wall-covering line of PVC-free surfaces that use only water-based inks and coatings, but still have high abrasion resistance and tolerance for bleach-based cleaners. The line includes a variety of metallic patterns and scales (Midas is pictured), each of which are Cradle to Cradle Silver certified.
Frost, Chilewich Contract Frost is an industrially-derived surface available in three shimmering shades, Black, Topaz, and Mineral, with a transparent fiber coating that changes the surface’s appearance depending on lighting direction. With the appropriate backing material, Frost can be used in a variety of ways including as wall-to-wall and tile flooring, floor mats, wall covering, and upholstery fabric.
Rodarte Textiles, Knoll Luxe Knoll’s luxury fabric division collaborated with fashion house Rodarte to create five upholstery and three drapery patterns named after poets and inspired by the fashion house’s runway collections. Auden (pictured) is an ombre pattern printed digitally on woven raffia and is available in four colorways.
Vein Cut Onyx, Stone Source Vein Cut Onyx from Stone Source is available in white or green, each with natural vein patterns and translucency. The 2-centimeter-thick slabs can be used for interior walls and counters, but are not recommended for kitchen countertops.
Enea Lottus Table, Coalesse Designed by Barcelona-based design trio Lievore Altherr Molina for Enea of Spain, Lottus tables are available in the full range of Coalesse veneer and laminate colors, with four complementary colors for the painted metal base. Four heights and diameters from 30 to 72 inches allow the table to fit a range of spaces and match several seating options, including Lottus chairs and stools.
Sava, Stylex Sava Cvek’s new design for Stylex is a multitask chair that combines engineering and aesthetics to create a versatile design. The chair is available with task or conference arms with a high or mid-back design with mesh or upholstered finishes and low-profile paddles to control height, tension, seat depth, and tilt.
DR Desk, Jofco Claudio Bellini’s DR desk design for Italian manufacturer Frezza combines a simple table with a carefully designed desk and storage element. The desk’s legs are carved entirely from solid walnut wood, creating a striking contrast to optional glasswork surfaces and painted drawers.
Flow Bench, Arktura Designed by LA-based Chris Kabatsi, the Flow Bench from Arktura is formed from eco-composite materials that are suitable for residential and commercial interiors. Available in orange, black, and white, the bench is 72 inches long, and next year will be joined by Kabatsi’s similarly fluid Squall coffee table.
FCB Series, Sedia Systems Herzog and de Meuron designed Sedia Systems’ FCB Series of stadium seats as a flexible option for arenas, auditoriums, and classrooms. The line includes fixed shell or gravity uplift seats and four upholstered VIP seats, with optional flip-up desk system and a slender profile designed to maximize aisle space.