“Dream Design Disrupt” – How Loss Inspires A Life in Design

Dream.

Design.

Disrupt.

Very intriguing words when it comes to the creative process of design.  But what’s behind these words is even more intriguing.  How does loss inspire a life in design?  Read on to learn pieces of the inspiring story of Tina Nicole, co-founder of Nathan Anthony Furniture, in her brand new book Dream Design Disrupt: A Life in Design. Original: http://deborahmaindesigns.com/

tina nicole

Tina launched her book at the fall 2019 High Point Market.  It was so popular that their showroom ran out. Here are a couple lucky recipients with Tina on the left.

Without revealing all of Tina’s book, because I really want you to experience it for yourself, let’s dive into the structure of the book a bit and why it’s such a fantastic read.

WHEN NO ORDINARY DESIGN BOOK WILL DO

Dream Design Disrupt: A Life in Design is the perfect book to give as a holiday gift to yourself or a friend or family member who needs some inspiration or even a challenge.  It’s a great book to read over the holidays to inspire you to go forth and conquer the world in 2020.  At least that’s how I felt after reading it.   But not before it stopped me in my tracks to do some serious contemplation of my life, what I want out of it, what my dreams are, and what my plans are going forward. As we all know, life is always a work in progress.

Tina’s book really makes you think. It’s a book you don’t read just once, but one you ponder and read again and again.  It makes you stop for a little while, get uplugged, let go of your “to-do’s” and think about your life and what you want to do with it. No matter where you are in your life and career, pick up a copy of Tina’s book because I can guarantee it will impact you.

As Tina states –

This book isn’t like anyone else’s book, or any other design book or any other art book. Dream Design Disrupt is about acknowledging what makes us different, embracing it, and creating a life that is true to who we really are and what we CAN be.

And she is right about that.  So let me break it down for you a bit so you know what to expect when you purchase the book. (You also can try to win a signed copy through midnight Wednesday, Dec 18th, over on my instagram @ThePillowGoddess).

LIFE IN FULL COLOR

To say the book is colorful is an understatement. The graphic design of the book, the layout, the format, and the neon colors are quintessential Tina.  It’s a beautiful book visually which sets you in the right frame of mind from the get-go.  You know from the cover that this is going to be a fantastic book, that some sparks are going to fly and you will be wiser for it. We can all thank Tina right now for having the courage to write this incredible book!  Thank you Tina!

The book is broken into two major parts, with several chapters in each part.

PART 1 – DREAM DREAMER

This first part of the book is Tina’s life story.  Her dream. Her losses and the life decisions she made that got her to where she is now. I have never met Tina in real life, but I feel I’ve known her for years because I fell in love with Nathan Anthony Furniture the first minute I saw them win an award for one of their chairs, the Dali. I’ve been hooked with Tina’s designs ever since!

design et al Winner Dali 2017

PART 2 – DESIGN DISRUPT

This section of the book features stories and details behind many of Tina’s award-winning designs.  Some of my favorite pieces of Tina’s are featured in this book.  The company, Nathan Anthony Furniture, based in California where Tina grew up, manufacturers all of its furniture in the U.S. and produces some of the most provocative pieces.

The book is also chock full of sound advice from someone who has been through it all and built her dream. Each chapter weaves in Tina’s life lessons highlighted in colorful graphics:

  • Write stuff down
  • Live deliberately
  • Trust yourself
  • Go for it
  • Do you
  • Go the distance
  • Find 3 people to help get you there
  • Frustration = fierce growth
  • Love your work, work on love
  • Express yourself

HIGH SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS

Tina married the love of her life, Khai Mai, a high school sweetheart and together they’ve built the luxury brand Nathan Anthony Furniture.  Here they are in Los Angeles in 2014 in front of the black and white mural, painted by artist Thierry Noir, which, as described in the book, “celebrates the launch of an exhibition of the 30th anniversary of the first breakthrough of the Berlin wall.”

tina + Khai

Later, Tina would turn her view of this artist’s work into the abstract graphic-patterned fabric for the award-winning Aerie chair below. This is just one example of how Tina is inspired by everything she sees and experiences. And then how she translates that into her unique designs.

HOW LOSS GIVES US STRENGTH

Not one, but several losses influenced Tina’s life. However, as she outlines so eloquently in her book, those losses never defined her or kept her back. In fact, they kept propelling her forward to take more risks in her life and career.

The first half of the book chronicles Tina’s life from an accident as a child, through the loss of her mother when she was in 5th grade, up to where she is now, mother of her only son, Nathan, and co-owner of Nathan Anthony furniture. Yes, the company is named after her son. You will see why when you read the book.

There is a deeply personal story here, one that will surely affect you as it did me. Dream Design Disrupt is not only a beautifully designed book of art and design, but it is also a moving and inspiring memoir that leads us to the founding of Nathan Anthony Furniture, one of the most prestigious furniture design brands in the United States.

Throughout the book, Tina writes from the depths of her soul, from her own life’s journey. As master life coach Filippo Voltaggio, states in the forward of the book –

Her work, like that of so many creative movers and shakers, is built upon a personal story that touches on tragedy,  loss, and struggle but is ruled by commitment, courage, and love.

In some way or another, I believe all of us are shaped and formed by our life experiences and the decisions we make, for better or worse, come from that foundation of loss. Because in some ways, doesn’t part of creating something new come from the loss of something old?

Not to get too philosophical here,  but think about it.

Think about your own life and the choices you’ve made.

Don’t some of those choices stem from past loss?

I know for me personally, I married the love of my life who helped me work through and heal some of my childhood wounds.  Oh, don’t think you don’t have them, because we ALL have them. Some are minor but many are life-altering. And I bet if you’re honest with yourself, you will let this book touch that part of you.

Helen Keller once wrote –

Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. 

We all have childhood dreams. But, like Tina, and all of us, our dreams and our lives take circuitous paths and we always don’t end up where we want to be OR we do end up where we want to be, but never thought it possible.

Tina says so herself in the introduction:

If you had told me back in my MTV years….that I would someday become a furniture designer and work in a family-owned factory situated just a few miles from my childhood home in Southern California- and love it with all my heart – I probably would have giggled, shaken my partially shaved head, and thought, You’re Crazy.

THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE

The 2nd half of the book is all about the award-winning designs that Tina has created and what she believes forms the foundation for her life of design.  These chapters are broken up with bright hot pink pages with the language of design.

You’ll learn by reading the book that Tina has a degree in fashion merchandising from FIDM, has been a lifelong “maker”, and on top of that a law degree.  Quite the combination for an award-winning designer.  But it all shows in each furniture piece she creates, as she designs “furniture art” as if each piece will one day make a its own fashion statement on the runway.

And indeed they do. Nathan Anthony is known for meticulous attention to dress-making details in all their furnishings, and Tina gets that from her grandmother and experience in fashion.

Of course, the very things that Tina talks about are the very details I love about Tina’s design work. Like Color and Texture.

How many furniture companies do you know of, go out and design a chair with 18″ leather straps cascading down a chair into dramatic fringe puddling on the floor?  None.  But Nathan Anthony Furniture does.  Tina creates these designs.

Tina designs the unexpected and that’s what sets her work apart from other furniture designers.  And each piece is customizable from this family-owned company. They recently debuted this chair in blush pink! Can you imagine?

THE ELAN/S FRINGE CHAIR

Elan Fringe Nathan Anthony

FROM DREAMING A LIFE OF DESIGN TO LIVING ONE

I asked Tina, what she thinks artists and designers can gain from reading her book.  She said –

Dream Design Disrupt is about encouragement to every designer, artist, or storyteller who put out a collection of personal work that bombed…and had the guts to go back to the drawing board, having learned from that experience, and try to connect again. And succeeded.

Please enjoy some of the newest designs by Nathan Anthony furniture with some of my favorite iconic pieces that Tina designed.

THE LAURENT SOFA

THE LAURENT CHAIR

THE MINX WING SOFA

THE HUGO SOFA

THE KORZ CHAIR

To conclude, here’s another inspiring statement that Tina highlights in her book –

Be fierce. Seize your power to change the narrative and turn things around.

If there is anyone that has proven this possible,  it is furniture designer extraordinaire, Tina Nicole.

Please view her incredible designs and innovative, fashion-forward work on their website Nathan Anthony Furniture. Take inspiration from her words and go live your dream. A perfect gift for the holidays, you can purchase her new book HERE. 

And please PIN this image to share this post and inspiring book with others. Thank you!

On that note, this is my final post of 2019. I’m taking time off, unplugging, to, in Tina’s words,

Leave an opening for the imagination to enter and it will surely find its way in.

I’m looking forward to some unscheduled time so that my imagination can find its way in again. The Pillow Goddess Studio and blog will be closed until Monday, January 6th, 2020. Thank you for all your support for an incredible 2019. I feel so blessed!

Wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2020, XO PG

Note: All photography in this post is courtesy of Nathan Anthony Furniture. Opinions are my own.