Ryan WillmsRyan Willms is CEO and editor-in-chief at Inventory Magazine. He lives and works in Vancouver, Canada.
I started to become quite interested in furniture about six years ago. Mid-Century modern designers from America and Scandinavia originally took my attention, like many people. I’m sure a lot people were introduced through the work of Charles Eames and Herman Miller, which was the case for myself. Since then, it’s been a constant evolution of learning, research and discovery. I still have the first Eames chair I bought, but overall my tastes have refined slowly over the past few years.
There isn’t a big market for vintage Mid-Century furniture in Vancouver, so I’ll often have to take the hunt online, or search out stores and markets while I’m traveling. I actually found the bench on eBay. It’s is from the late 1950’s and I got a pretty good deal on it as well. It’s been with me for the last four years, and I’ll have it forever. Usually once I set my mind on a piece, I won’t let it go until I have it, which makes me want to hang on to it pretty tight once it’s in my grasp.
The bench has been used in a couple of different ways over the years, which is what I like about it. It’s such a versatile piece that doesn’t stand out and also doesn’t feel too precious. It’s been at the end of my bed, used as a coffee table, and currently it’s a mix between bedside table and bookshelf. I haven’t actually used it for sitting too often, it’s been more regularly used as a table. It’s a great heigh, perfect size and looks really nice with things on top of it. I think the texture of the materials always makes me want to put different things on it, from framed art, record players or books and incense. While it’s one of George Nelson’s more recognizable pieces, it’s still very understated and when there are books, art, or ceramics on top, it sort of becomes invisible, which I think I read has something to do with good design.
I think it’s important to have good things that last forever, but it’s a way of consuming that isn’t for everyone. It’s a similar idea to me as creating wardrobe – it’s the wardrobe for your home. I like to have shoes that I’ll have forever, or a wool coat that I know I’ll have for decades, but I also have sneakers that won’t last or T-shirts that I’ll get tired of. With a home it’s certainly less trendy, but your tastes can still evolve over time. Pieces are generally more expensive and you don’t need as many and definitely not as often, so I think I can be more patient with my choices. In turn, when you’ve thought about it more, researched it deeply and then hunted it down, it makes you want to hang on to it for as long as you can. I don’t need everything to last forever, but I think there are certainly a handful of things; clothing and future, that I hope I’ll have for the rest of my life.