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Natural Talent: Furniture Designers Brad Huntzinger and Kate McIntyre

The visionary designers behind the Berkeley-based design studio for Ironies and Oly share their sources of inspiration in California Home +Design.

Brad Huntzinger and Kate McIntyre launched Ironies, their innovative and elegant furniture line, nearly twenty years ago.  Both came from fine arts backgrounds and were doing decorative painting and design work at the time, but couldn’t find the right furniture to fill their interiors.

“We wanted furniture that was organic and somewhat delicate in appearance, but also sturdy, so we created twig and leaf-inspired designs out of iron,” says Huntzinger of Ironies origins.

The same organic design continues today in both the custom Ironies line and the mass-produced Oly line (named after McIntyre’s daughter Olivia). Both lines feature designs inspired by natural materials such as horn, shell, onyx, agate, volcanic glass, shagreen and wood along with their trademark iron and stone.

This year the prolific pair are introducing new Ironies chairs embellished with inlaid shells and stones as well as their own line of leather. More refined versions of their classic twig designs are being cast in bronze and brass. New resin pieces in the Oly line, like tables “pierced” with interesting patterns or carved to look like coral, allow the designers to play with color and translucence.

Historic furniture influences Huntzinger’s eye, while McIntyre looks for clean-lined pieces that stand on their own. “A table shouldn’t need a vase of flowers to make it look good,” she says.

Huntzinger says that he and McIntyre come to the design table with their own ideas, but that ultimately their interactions in their Berkeley studio result in a better product. “We’ve developed a real shorthand with each other when it comes to nature-inspired design,” says McIntyre.

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