Modern Creative: Chris Earl

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Designer Chris Earl creates more than the modern furniture he crafts in his LA home studio. His collections are based in the larger concept that relationships are forged across tabletops and over candle-lit dinners. He knows because he’s also a chef that throws dinner parties on the tables he makes.

We visited Chris at his LA home to capture him in his element and chat about the connections he draws between his creative endeavors. His alternative approach to his varied interests makes you want to pull up a chair and take note.

Of all your passions, are being a chef and a furniture designer your two favorites? Do you consider yourself more a designer or a chef?

That’s actually a funny question to me, because Amber and I talk about that pretty often! I’m definitely the type of person who needs to be doing multiple things in order to be at my best. If I linger too long, I get bored and unproductive. I love doing both. But if pressed, I’d have to say that designing is at my core…Whether that’s designing furniture or a meal, I’ll leave that up to the moment.

“Get a Table, Get a Chef” is a fantastic idea for combining your interests. How did you discover you could marry all your interests in a successful business? 

I’ve always felt like food and furniture have a natural connection…especially when it comes to tables.  I guarantee you, you have a visceral image of the dining table you grew up with. Whether it be some classic old solid oak piece with tacky fluting, or a round topped gold-speckled formica piece with a dull aluminum band that you used to pick the grime out of with a toothpick…you know what table you gathered around most often. There is something to that. There’s something special and significant that happens when people gather around a table. Gathering over food naturally creates a level of vulnerability or honesty that comes out regardless of place and time. Maybe that’s why Thanksgiving is always such a divisive holiday, it either signals moments of ultimate familial intimacy and correlation or tense thoughts of fraught instances of conflict and exceedingly heightened aggravation.

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Where do you feel most creative?

In the shower. Or, in bed when I’m in that moment right before being fully awake and not quite sure if I’m still dreaming or actually cognizant.

Describe how growing up in Papua New Guinea influenced your creative process and how did you make your way to LA?

I think that Papua New Guinea helped to foster creativity and ingenuity.  It is true, that over there, you have what you can make. Being able to source what you may be able to find around yourself and using your imagination or ingenuity to turn that into something more practical is the key to getting by or creating the solution you need to address the situation.

You’ve been featured in some amazing publications—Food & Wine, Apartment Therapy, Design Sponge. Are their other brands or publications you’d like to partner with?

Of course, absolutely, I mean we could probably list for days right? Architectural Digest, GQ, Bolig (a Danish monthly), Dwell, Elle Decor.. We could go on and on for furniture. On the food side, there are so many amazing chefs and food blogs out there, I’d be afraid to mention even one without being in fear of unintentionally omitting one I love. That being said, I’m obviously a big fan of Bon Appetite and would relish the opportunity to be featured with them.. or even better, do some food-styling for their shoots.

Describe your personal style. Which Alternative styles are you drawn to?

In terms of furniture, I think I have a fairly clean and classic aesthetic that is obviously influenced by Danish and perhaps Italian design. I think the wildcard of Papua New Guinea influence adds a slightly organic or even uncanny edge to the design that helps it from being too standard or wrote.

As far as fashion goes, I prefer basics and brands that stress functionality over branding and logo promotion.  In short, Alternative Apparel’s tees and henleys are among my every-day wears.

Alternatively, I’m also drawn to overtly luxe, exquisitely crafted and even surreal design that questions physical reality and forces one to think, without being overtly nonsensical or simply pretentious for pretentiousness’ sake.

Written by Shannon Randall

Photos by Andrew Lee

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