New Classics
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Cosgrove: Traditional is not what I do. Traditional is about following rigid rules and not exploring new ideas. A better description would be classic, which to me doesn’t mean staid, dogmatic formulas.

 Classics are constantly reexplored because there is always a return to what is proven and familiar, to excellence, to beauty and to comfort. I’ve seen the market move toward more classic looks for several years. We’re at war, and we want comfort and calm. We don’t need any more excitement. We want things to be familiar—but not too familiar. They have to be interesting.

 For me, the way to keep things interesting is to take one element of a classic and change it. Take a classic candlestick lamp, for example. You could change the scale or the finish, the line or the volume. Break it down, figure out what it is that makes it a classic and then play with that element. Scale is always the easiest. I went to an art show once where a person had hung a piece of really huge rope from the ceiling. The scale was powerful. You can shrink something that’s large or enlarge something that’s small. Or you can change the proportions: Take something short and fat and make it tall and thin. The idea is to change just one element. Don’t rewrite the whole book.

 Someone once said if you think you have a truly original idea, you just haven’t done enough research. If you look hard enough, you’ll find somebody else has already done it. I think that’s true. I have a friend who collects a lot of Chinese antiques, and it is amazing to me when I look at these really old Chinese pieces how very contemporary they are and how much they look like the forms we’re calling modern today. They aren’t modern at all. There are some things that just don’t go out of style: celadon, silver candlesticks. Things that are done right are always right.

My own design aesthetic hasn’t changed a lot. We’ve been in business 10 years, and we’re looking at revisiting some of our original designs, which are very classic. The original lamp in our line is a silver candlestick called Alicia. It still sells heavily to this day. We have other candlesticks as well, and we’re thinking of revamping some of the original designs, maybe changing the scale or the finish. The idea is to mature and explore new and different options.

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