John Niero is a native of Toronto, Canada, where he received a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson University with a major in Photography. He then worked as a fashion/beauty and music photographer in L.A. While doing his own home renovation, during which he reconfigured and designed many elements, he became interested in furthering his design education. He enrolled at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and graduated with Honors in 07, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree. While in school, he completed an internship at designer Karim Rashid’s studio in New York. Upon graduation, he launched his company just not normal (www.justnotnormal.us) His designs appear to be minimal and with clean lines, yet there is always more than meets the eye.Looking deeply, different elements can be discovered. This discovery process creates intrigue and engages the observer with the product and its design. Ultimately, his designs are not what they may initially appear to be – they are just not normal.Despite being early in his career, Niero’s designs have already received numerous awards. While still in school his flex stacking chair placed second in the International Woodworking Fair competition in Atlanta, Georgia, in August 2006. J-low chaise and table/ottoman debuted at the Salone Satellite of the Salone del Mobile in Milan, April 2007, where it was well received. Subsequently, J-low chaise and table/ottoman won the ICFF Studio Bernhardt Design competition, leading to its North American debut in New York in May 2007. In 2008, his second furniture collection made its debut at the Salone Satellite in April and at the ICFF in May. Later that year his flex too chair, from the same collection, was selected among the Top Ten Chairs at the Promosedia - Salone Internazionale del Sedia, in Udine, Italy. His zipper silicone luminaire received first prize in the FLARE Architectural Lighting Magazine’s Progetti di Luce 2008 design competition, selected from over 200 proposals submitted by young design professionals and students from around the world. John Niero debuted his third furniture collection, stance and totally batty, at the Salone Satellite in April 09, and at the ICFF in May 09. syncopation, licensed by La Cividina, also made its debut at the Salone del Mobile that same year. elle, licensed by Loewenstein (a division of OFS Brands), debuted at NeoCon’s World Trade Fair in Chicago, in June 09, where it was awarded Gold in the Best of NeoCon Seating: Sofas & Lounge Chair category. Most recently he received the Interior Design Best of Year 2009 Merit Award, Product Design, Seating: Contract/Lounge.
Inspirations and Influences?
Inspirations come from all over, such as the vibe I get from visiting a new city, discovering new areas in my home city of Los Angeles, viewing an exhibit at a museum, walking through nature. They seem to culminate at about 2 a.m., while I am sleeping.
Project you are most proud of so far ?
I have two: J-low chaise and monkey around. J-low chaise was my first project where I reinterpreted a primitive handcrafted African tribal chair, using advanced computer software and a CNC (computer numeric controlled) machine. The contrast between the ancient hand-crafted wooden seat and the modern plastic J-low chaise and table/ottoman speaks to the tension between old and new, past and future, while maintaining an essential aesthetic link.monkey around consists of objects/elements that I do not like, such as chandeliers, crystals, patterns and florescent lights. I utilized these elements/objects to create something that I DO like and that is fun and interactive. It reminds me of what a painting instructor once told me in class when I stated that I did not like a particular color, "...in the right painting that might be the perfect color..."
Favorite cultural hotspot ?
Milan - the Big Olive. An international small city where there is a high concentration of extremely talented people pushing the envelope.
Dream dinner guest would be?
Vivienne Westwood because she just rocks.
Making something that is inspiring and that has not been done before yet can be manufactured for a mass global market.
Other designers you admire?
- Petra Blaisse for her incredible sense of materials, light and shadow, and her ability to transform a space to create a lasting experience for the observer.
- Patricia Urquiola for her use of scale and materials, and because she brings fashion into the design world.
- Konstantin Grcic because his designs are stripped to the bare essentials, are strongly engineered, and yet have an unexpected quality to them.
What stood out this year in his opinion at ICFF?
Design Glut's plug in candles by Liz Kinnmark.