Brooklyn-based industrial designer Scott Henderson has been tapped as the Partner-Country designer for Messe Frankfurt’s Ambiente show, which will take place in Frankfurt, Germany, from February 13th through 17th next year. The USA was chosen for 2015, the international consumer trade fair’s fourth year of partnering. We follow on the heels of Denmark, France and Japan in their successful collaborations in taking products and designers to the avant-garde venue. During the brunch to introduce Henderson, I became so fascinated with the breadth of his portfolio, I decided to visit his studio in Dumbo to find out more about him and his product designs. I wasn’t disappointed.
Henderson co-founded MINT, a design collective through which he designs, manufactures and distributes home accessories and objects to more than 350 retailers and museums throughout the world, among them The Museum of Modern Art, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the London Design Museum. His designs have been exhibited a number of times in the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, six of them included in the museum’s National Design Triennial “Inside Design Now.” MoMA is one of his biggest clients, snapping up products like MINT’s Hug salt and pepper set, which he calls one of the most knocked-off products in design history. I can see why given the intelligence of the design. Sadly, this is an occurrence for many talented designers, though difficult to stop in the global openness we find ourselves facing in the design world.
One of the threads that connected most of his designs was an ability to think intimately about how to improve products many of us use around the house day-in and day-out. No surprise, I suppose, given he’s a father of two young children, but the depth of attention he put into his decisions as to materials and features was impressive. His Moby bath waterspout cover for Skip Hop, which slips over a bathtub waterspout to protect a baby’s head when being bathed, has garnered him a tremendous amount of attention.
A Crockpot he designed has an auto-stirring mechanism so the dish being made is truly as hands-free as the manufacturer claims. “Not having to lift the lid to stir the food not only means the cook can completely forget about the dish until it’s done, flavorful steam isn’t allowed to escape if the lid stays on the entire length of the cooking time,” he explained. Henderson has designed toasters, an ice-cream maker, a refreshed version of the Mixmaster, air purifiers, and tower fans for companies like Oster, Sunbeam and Bonaire, which you may have seen in Target and Walmart, whether you recognize them as his or not. “I’ve been called the King of Housewares,” he joked as he sifted through his studio shelves to show me an impressive array of products.
He has won prestigious awards, is a widely published author of articles surveying the importance of design, and he has served as the chairman of the Industrial Designers Society of America National Conference. He happens to be a favorite of Core77, which I follow closely for the innovative attitude the portal espouses regarding design. Take a look at Henderson’s press page and you’ll see he’s been featured by some of the finest publications covering design today. If that doesn’t bowl you over enough, the trendsetter has designed a watercraft dubbed the Peconic 43 for master yacht builders CH Marine in Shelter Island, New York.
What will he come up with next? It’s anyone’s guess, though I know he will be working away on the installation he will design for the Ambiente show during the next several months. It will be interesting to see how he envisions a space that will be of global significance, and I want to be one of the first to wish him an inspired collaboration with the forward-thinking organizers of the show.
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