Designer spotlight- Palmer Earley of Four Hands

I recently had the great pleasure of meeting product designer Palmer Earley from Four Hands.
These guys design some of my favorite products sold at ABC Home, Anthroplogie and Nieman Marcus- including high on my design to dye for (sorry folks)  list- overdyed rugs.
While I was at the Las Vegas Market Palmer took me on a personal tour of the Four Hands showroom and told me a bit about his background and work.
What first inspired you to be a product designer?
Boring cabinet hardware! It sounds funny, but it's true. When I first got started I was designing cabinet knobs and pulls. A friend and I were traveling around central Mexico where we met some amazing metal smiths. By the time we got back to Austin we had targeted a hole in the market place and developed what became our first line.

Where did you get your training? 
Hanging out with people more talented than me. When I first started designing products I was working in an antique shop surrounded by very talented interior designers. You learn quick what’s working and what’s not.

You mentioned that you had been a set designer- how did you get from there to here? 
It was more about the location than the profession. I was living in LA and kept coming across these experiences that were gently pushing me out the door. I think LA is like that for most people, it’s such a great place to live, but you know when it’s time to go.

What does a typical day look like for you? 
If I had typical days I would change my profession. Every day is so different from the next. One day you think you’ve created the most beautiful object in the world and the next day your factory is on fire. It sounds absurd but it’s happened!

What inspires your work?
I travel so much I’m constantly being introduced to new ideas and designs. It’s very addictive, not so much the travel but the excitement of what’s around the corner. It’s those images, colors and experiences that work their way into what I do.

What are some of your favorite design resources? 
As far as shelter mags go, I love Elle Décor and Vogue Living. I check out numerous blogs daily, including yours! I also look at a lot of music and fashion magazines.  It’s easy to translate runway fashion to home furnishings fashion.

I would love to see a few pieces and have you discuss your thought process behind the design.
This “bistro” light is one of my favorites. The body is cast from a French original café light and we worked it into our counter-balanced design. It’s very romantic design but strong enough to work anywhere.

The Bilardo was our most ambitious design. We really wanted to capture the early Industrial movement without coming across as too “factory like”. The design had to be something that would incorporate symbols of hard work: the pulley wheels, the up down movement of the  “piston”, plus combining the mixture of horizontal and vertical scaffolding.  The oil rubbed bronze finish is unique to  Architects & Heroes lighting and we  felt the perfect finish for  this design. It allowed this “heavy machine” of a light to embrace the openness of the home and be welcoming in its overall warmth.  

If you weren't a product designer you would be? 
Figuring out how to be a product designer. 

I assume you travel a lot for work (and pleasure) where have your travels taken you.  
I travel all the time, both domestically and international. We’re either going to see a factory we work with, looking for a factory nobody’s ever worked, attending a lighting trade show or exhibiting at one of the furniture markets. It’s constant travel, tons of hard work but really, really fun!
What are your favorite "secret" haunts?
 When in Austin you have to check out the Four Hands Warehouse Sales, they have them maybe 4 times a year and they are literally filled with one of a kinds from around the world! My other favorite place is the Wyldwood Market which is just West of Bastrop, TX on HWY 71, that place always has the most incredible finds!