Industry Insiders: Richard Shemtov, Design Scion

Richard Shemtov is the founder of contemporary design firm Dune, which started as a small furniture production facility in Red Hook back in ’96 and has since grown into an internationally recognized studio in Tribeca and New Jersey. The Parsons graduate describes himself as “genuinely optimistic, a problem solver and always up for a challenge,” and constantly pushes boundaries with his cutting edge designs for city living. Tips for city living and where to find inspiration after the jump.

On a typical day: After I take the kids to school, I arrive at work on Wooster Street around 8:30 am. I begin by responding to emails and have scheduled conference calls each morning. I then head over to our factory in Harrison, NJ to check over our production schedule and look at some of the new furniture pieces we are building, all of which are in various stages of completion. A couple of hours later I’m back in the city and have lunch around 2 or 3pm. Afterward, I’m in meetings with clients, and then between 5-7pm there is some creative time as I work with our design team on the development of their custom furniture drawings. I get home around 8pm and have dinner with the family and in bed by midnight.

On keeping his head in the game: Getting married has definitely changed my life. It’s kept me grounded, which allowed me to grow as a designer and refine my company’s direction.

On trends in the design industry: The most positive design trend I see this year is a decline in the interest of “limited edition” furniture. It’s a dismal trend that alienates the public with a message that contemporary-designed furniture is precious art and should be collected rather used.

On Dune in 2010: We’ll complete our new 300-page Dune furniture catalog later this year and there will be new collaborations with some incredible designers for new projects in 2011.

On his dream project: I’d like to design and furnish the interiors of an entire city. We got close a couple of years ago but the developer lost his funding with the recession.

On the difficulties of getting started in the ’90s: The biggest challenge was just starting from scratch. After the initial introduction of our first furniture collection, we had to figure out a way to make these new designs relevant to people and give them good reason to buy it. Over the years it’s been a constant and ongoing reinvestment in new product introductions and marketing efforts.

Tips for furnishing small city apartments: If you’re furnishing a small space, definitely look for furniture that can serve multiple functions and has smaller-scaled proportions. I’d also keep them tight to the perimeter, and don’t overcrowd your floor space.

Design basics that every apartment should have: Every apartment should have either white or light-colored walls and really good lighting. It’ll not only enhance your mood but also any furniture you are planning to use.

On finding inspiration: I constantly look at the market for what’s missing. It’s the lack that initiates the design process for me. I then draw my inspiration from contemporary art, pop culture, film, or my dreams. I believe there’s a progression of design from where we’ve been culturally as a society and where we should go next.

On the ‘Dune lifestyle:’ The Dune lifestyle is meant to be honest, provide comfort, and allow people to tailor the furniture to their needs and personality through our unique customization.

Favorite design piece: A few years back, we needed a comfortable sofa-bed that could be brought in through our 27” wide doorway. I designed one that worked really well. We’ve since added the piece to the collection, called “Newborn”, and it’s been very successful.

Favorite city for design: From a design perspective, New York is my ultimate favorite city. It’s a creative powerhouse that’s full of design energy. The shortage of significant architecture is undeniable but there are many sensational interiors here in restaurants, hotels, and cultural institutions.

Go-tos: Bar Pitti is my absolute favorite, I could eat there every day. Simple ingredients prepared flawlessly. I also enjoy Café Mogador for Moroccan. They make a stellar Lamb Tagine. There’s Omen for Japanese, love their sashimi.

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