Make yr HOME COOLER with this mach 3+ "SPYPLANE LAB REPORT"

TURBO-MODE CRIB-TIPS from Amy Auscherman, design archivist at Herman Miller

Every day, different readers email us to say things like, “PLEASE HELP ME SPYPLANE MY CRIB” and “BBSP WILL YOU SAVE MY LIVING ROOM’S LIFE??” Today’s “LAB REPORT” will help u accomplish these goals, but while our personal home-jawns opinions are “truly unbeatable,” we also love learning from guests with Mach 3+ taste — and today we have the HONOR of receiving advanced home-intel from another Expert SpyFriend: Amy Auscherman.

Amy is Herman Miller’s “head of archives and brand heritage,” she co-edited the BEAUTIFUL TOME Herman Miller: A Way of Living, she has a MUST-FOLLOW IG and her taste is sharp and far-ranging. She believes that “furniture is the new streetwear” … A BOLD CLAIM, so the other day Erin called her up to ask about the many ways AMY KEEPS HER OWN HOME LOOKING DOPE.


FYI: Tomorrow we’re sending out a bonus Cla$$ified newsletter featuring even more tips from Amy and ⚠️ teaming up with Herman Miller to give away a brand-new George Nelson Coconut Chair — a “deep cut” midcentury gem ⚠️ — to a Cla$$ified-tier subscriber. BBSP truly has the most “unbeatable paywall” across all media & u deserve to upgrade yrself if yr not “Cla$$ified” yet.

It takes 2 steps to get the nubs on these Barragán rugs: first, the wool is woven on a loom and then a pair of artisans knot the hairs, one by one.

Blackbird Spyplane: Let’s go BOTTOM-UP on this crib-check— what’s this beautiful rug?

Amy Auscherman: “This is a Barragán Rug from Txt.ure MX. This is the first thing I feel when I wake up every morning and I’m so grateful for it. Txt.ure worked with Casa Luis Barragán to remake the carpets for his home in Mexico City. I got my indigo one at the showroom in CDMX and lugged it back on a plane, but they sell them online. I want one of their small stools, too [SPYPLANE NOTE: THE PRICES ARE LISTED IN MXN SO CONVERT TO USD AND BREATHE EASIER!]

Blackbird Spyplane: We visited the Barragán house last fall and had to wear protective Tyvek booties — we didn’t get the rugs’ raw-uncut effect…

Amy: “It’s super nubby. Barragán was this reclusive weirdo, so I like to think about how this is what this genius felt his feet touch everyday.”

Blackbird Spyplane: Next up is Soko Hardware in San Francisco — we always love a good hardware store, especially if it’s Japanese. What’s special about this one?

Amy: “I was staying in Japantown for an event and it was across the street from my hotel. I bought a tiny Daruma doll there, and filled in one of the eyes for good luck, and when the Herman Miller book was done, I filled in the other eye. They have cool knives, great ceramics (I picked up this little tea mug, above left, there) and other bits and bobs — and it’s family-owned and 95-years-old. It’s a Japanophile’s dream. There are also some cool Ruth Asawa fountains (above right) outside the shop.”

Blackbird Spyplane: What do you put on yr walls / bookshelves / tables??

Amy: “I recently picked up this SICK Bruce Goff exhibition poster from LELLI — this great online shop for books, posters, and records. Goff is one of my favorites, an under-the-radar midwestern-architecture weirdo. Someone NEEDS this Niki di Saint Phalle Detroit Jazz Fest poster (above right). They have cool stuff at all price points, including this legendary poster from Donald Judd’s first solo exhibition… for $6000.

“Also I want to shout out Eileen Gray — she was an Irish architect and designer and, like many women in those fields, she has not gotten her due. I recently added this Eileen Gray exhibition catalog to my collection, which was designed by Irma Boom — a.k.a the ‘Queen of Books’. There’s an Eileen Gray virtual exhibition up now at Bard you can check out.

“Some other books & catalogs I’ve gotten recently are: Duro Olowu: Seeing, Thaddeus Mosely, Issey Miyake by Tadanori Yokoo, and Design as an Attitude by Alice Rawsthorn, who is my favorite design writer.”

Blackbird Spyplane: Thaddeus Mosley’s work looks incredible…

Amy: “I’m a big Noguchi head, and Mosley is a Noguchi acolyte. He’s a Black sculptor who didn’t get his due. It’s mainly wood sculpture, very Japanese-feeling.”

Blackbird Spyplane: Speaking of Noguchi — we have an Akari lamp & a pendant here at HQ and they are 10/10 “unbeatable lighting fixtures.”

Amy: “I can’t stress enough how the Akari are the best lamps to live with. I have a UF3-Q, which is like having a large glowing ghost friend in my living room. I can’t wait to go back to the Noguchi Museum, in Queens, and see their latest Akari extravaganza — but you can also purchase them online. That’s probably the museum that I’ve been to the most on earth, and the Akari are all still made in the same spot in Japan. It’s a dream of mine to go there: There’s a video of the factory online, but I bought a DVD of it to keep on just as this ambient thing.”

The HAY shelving unit, which is on sale right now. (Herman Miller bought HAY a couple years ago but Amy “used my own money” to cop.)

But books are my favorite things to buy and I have a lot of them, so I needed to buy another bookshelf to accommodate my growing piles — thankfully HAY has this option. I only like to use metal shelving as a book collector, because metal doesn’t off-gas and ruin books, and I was looking for something industrial that’s not from ULINE — and this one comes in good colors.

“On a similar note, my $50 Cramer Kik-Step stool is one of my favorite things. I’ve worked in libraries for over 10 years and developed a deep love for these. I use one to reach stuff in my pantry and on bookshelves, but you throw a blanket on it and it’s a stool or ottoman. They come in nice colors, too. Mine’s red.”

Blackbird Spyplane: Who are some small contemporary makers you can put us onto? 

“I’ve been inspired by friends who are staying creative during quarantine — Sophie Simmons has been channeling Edith Heath and throwing the coolest, cutest marbled bud vases in her basement studio in Indianapolis.

“Heath aren’t small but their bud vase is a really good, accessible first object for people, and a great way to bring the outdoors inside, even if you just stick some weeds in it. Tung Chiang, the director of Heath Clay Studio, also does cool experiments with glazing that they drop over the course of the year.”

Enzo Mari’s La Mama dutch oven in acid green… the one that got away... & at right some drippy icicle-footed Finnish glassware by Tapio Wirkkala

Blackbird Spyplane: OK, let’s close things out with EBAY TALK — what kinds of things do u hunt for on there?

Amy: “Most of my alerts are Issey Miyake clothes, but for home goods I’m always looking for Enzo Mari (RIP) cookware. He had a line called La Mama for Le Creuset and it’s that grail-tier Dutch oven. The handles are cuter than regular Le Creuset and the colors are cool. There’s an acid green dutch oven that I lost in a bidding war that haunts me. There are all these new brands trying to ‘disrupt cookware,’ but the actual cool thing is to get vintage stuff. 

“Another thing I look for is the trippy Finnish glassware Tapio Wirkkala made for Iittala it’s relatively affordable cool glassware, and I love when sellers photograph his stuff next to cans of beans or La Croix for scale.”

PART TWO of this SPECIAL LAB REPORT, including our Spyplane x Herman Miller Coconut Chair Giveaway goes out tomorrow to Cla$$ified-tier Subscribers…

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-Amy Auscherman is on Instagram here
-You can buy Herman Miller: A Way of Living from Bookshop.org here
-We interviewed Ellen Van Dusen tha home-goods god here
-The full “Blackbird Spyplane Interview” archive — featuring Jerry Seinfeld, André 3000, Nathan Fielder, Rashida Jones, Emily Bode, Ezra Koenig, Online Ceramics and more — is here.