5 Questions for Kevin O’Brien

October 27, 2013

5 Questions for Kevin O’Brien

Well-known artisan and textile designer Kevin O’Brien brings his talent and sense of style to a wider audience with a debut collection of bedding products at Bed Bath & Beyond. The Tallulah Collection by Kevin O’Brien is a mix of global and contemporary influences, but with an eclectic, creative edge that makes the bedding as unique as the artist himself.

We caught up with Kevin recently, to learn a little more about his design philosophy and some of his favorite products at Bed Bath & Beyond.

If you had to tweet your design philosophy, what would your tweet say? (140 characters or less—we’re counting!)

My number one design rule is: “Be observant, notice everything, but stash away the best things in a special place in your brain.”

When you do that, the ideas will always be there and they’ll pop to the front of your mind when you need to solve a sticky design problem. Sounds easy, and it is!

From my perspective, the three purposes of design are to make life easier, more efficient, and more beautiful. We, as humans, have made great strides with the first two design goals. But with beauty, we seem to go back to square one all the time because the idea of beauty keeps changing–as ease and efficiency improve the way we live, our idea of elegance and beauty changes. And that’s a challenge for design professionals too! For instance, I really do not know what to do with my grandmother’s silver service. I like having it, but I would never take it out when friends come over for dinner. There are so many more fun things that clever people have invented to use on the table since then.

Tell us about your designs for Bed Bath & Beyond—how do they reflect the way you live  in your own home?

My beds for Bed Bath & Beyond came to me naturally and easily because they are beds that I would want to have. I designed them as though the bedroom is a sanctuary for sleep. In our home, the bedroom is only used when we are in bed. Daytime living in done in the living rooms of the house. We see our bed only once per day–just as we are about to get in it. So we want to see a vision of welcoming beauty.

What inspires you right now, and what do you think is coming up next?

I am inspired by quick glimpses of things that catch my eye, usually the corner of my eye. I turn to look at it but it is gone (or was never there), so I have to imagine what it was. But at least it’s a start, and it beats having a blank canvas (or blank page for a writer ) because I already have an image that I imagined and I build from there.

I have no idea what is coming next in the design world and I don’t worry about it. Yet somehow our studio is always on the trend, or even ahead of it. I do know that we will be moving towards more luxury and beauty, more fine detailing in our fabrics, and away from the minimalism that takes hold during times of uncertainty. Our way always stays the same, balance is the essence of beauty.

Aside from your own designs, which Bed Bath & Beyond products do you buy, and how do they mesh with your point of view?

In my world life is all about the kids these days (or these years!), but we still know how to participate in the grown-up world, or so we think.  So when we shop at BB&B we spend as much time contemplating new kitchen gadgets for making fantastic meals that the kids would never eat as we do closet organizing systems.  Now that Kevin O’Brien is in the bedding section, we may add to some of the quilts that we have bought in the past.

What’s one piece of advice that you wish you could give to anyone who is decorating or entertaining?

My advice would be: Relax, no one is judging – and if they are, don’t invite them back again!

Times have changed and we do not need to impress anyone with the way we live anymore. It’s more important to reflect your values. In the past, only luxury impressed, but now it’s all about point of view. Be yourself and be comfortable with it and you will attract the right people to sit around your table.

Jen Dennis



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