We recently participated in SF Design Week and held an event in our San Francisco store with Sunset Home Editor Chantal Lamers and Robert Brunner, founder of the design studio Ammunition Group. The two explored new design ideas for the modern, connected home and discussed products that bring intelligence and connectivity to the home in meaningful ways, like the Smart Cottage, which shows that function, technology and style can make a high-tech home both attainable and beautiful. We caught up with Robert and talked about design inspiration and what he sees as the future for the connected home.
- How would you describe your personal design aesthetic? I tend to focus on work that is simple and clean, but that also has an iconic quality. Somewhat minimalist, but with character and expression.
- Where do you get your inspiration? I’m inspired by the people I work with, by my family, and by living in San Francisco. From a design perspective, I am inspired by the world around me and inspiration can come from anywhere. A product, nature, architecture, people, etc.
- What are three things in your home you can’t live without? I don’t have a lot of things that I can’t live without, but there are a few pieces I really love. My Jasper Morrison “Low Pad” chairs are a long-term love. Or my Eames benches that serve as coffee tables in my living room. The Tizio lamp by Richard Sapper was influential to me early in my career. I love products that have dynamic qualities that feel like they’re in motion.
- Where is your ideal home away from home? Right now that place is Glen Ellen. We just built a home there and it’s the perfect contrast to living in San Francisco.
- What are your favorite Bay Area destinations? I enjoy the wine country, the beach, and just getting out of the city. As for San Francisco, when we’re not at home, we’re usually exploring or eating at our favorite spots in the Mission district.
- What’s the most important lesson you’ve ever learned? The most important lesson I have learned is that it’s not worth doing it unless it’s done right. This was taught to me by the experience school of failed efforts. Managing compromise is always part of the game in bringing things to market. But I’ve learned what the boundary conditions are of what it is that makes something great, and to fight hard not to cross them. At least then I can sleep at night.
- How do you approach designing technology products for the home? We always want to build very simple, meaningful, beautiful and useful things. When it comes to technology in the home, it needs to be intuitive and not require people to significantly change their life. It has to feel natural.
- What is the future of the connected home? In the short term, I believe that people will continue to use multiple devices to be able to personalize their experience—whether that’s with music, media, lighting or other areas of the home. It will be a while before one company or device can do it all. Longer term, technology will recede and it’ll be just about anticipating and doing. Just think: at some point indoor plumbing was a big innovation.
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Photo by Robert Brunner