Summer Sessions: A cross country tour with Design Within Reach

Design Within Reach x Whalebone with Taylor Steele hit San Francisco, Costa Mesa and Chicago

Photos Neil Yuzon (SF) | Molly Haas (Costa Mesa) | Hanle Kim (CHI)

ummer, kind of by design, is made up of fleeting treats and pleasures. Cold ice cream on a warm night. The all-too-brief window of perfectly sun-ripened tomatoes. Sandcastles that last until the tide comes in. Add to the list last week’s whirlwind road trip tour of Design Within Reach Studios for our Summer Sessions Series in which we lured Taylor Steele from San Francisco to Costa Mesa to Chicago with nothing but the promise of comfy chairs and all the Shake Shack he could eat.

Those three cities, and the Design Within Reach Studios within them, served as the backdrop for some conversations about the creative process that went far beyond how to walk away when you are stuck on a project (but totally do that).

Mic drop? Costa Mesa | Photo Molly Haas

We landed in San Francisco first, sharing a stage with Apple’s Group Creative Director Alex Grossman and Tiffany English, CID, LEED AP, (we looked up what some of these letters mean and we have been led to believe that she has a pretty deep background in building things without ruining the Earth) to talk through some modern design challenges and inspirations. Afterward we continued the discussion on a sojourn to The Mission and we think we have that robot singularity thing solved.

They were treated to a conversation with Taylor Steele about his career in surf films from Momentum to VR projects and beyond.

Next day, we hit Costa Mesa smack in the middle of the Vans US Open of Surfing down the road in Huntington Beach, so it was only appropriate that this stop on the tour featured even more Taylor Steele than ever before. The crowd at the Design Within Reach Studio in the South Coast Collection design center might have come because they heard there might be some tips on how to build better sandcastles, but they were treated to a conversation with Taylor Steele about his career in surf films from Momentum to VR projects and beyond, complete with clips and commentary and playing Where’s Waldo looking for Kelly Slater in Taylor’s Nat Geo documentary on rhinos.

Chicago was not all that windy, so we were mildly disappointed, but the talk with Leslie Martin of M+M, and Thomas Kelley of Norman Kelley was easy breezy.

At all the stops, Spun chairs were given whirls, other chairs were sat in quietly, Health-Ade Kombucha gave aid, skateboard decks were raffled and (tiny) cars given away—we are still working our way up to Oprah status. Baby steps. But all things considered, these were definitely not bad ways to spend a few midsummer nights.