Walking the Design Line

Walking the Design Line: FEHLŌ handcrafts home goods by the hundreds
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PHOTO: Lopez-Ibanez’s (pictured right) designs are distinguished by a bold minimalism.

Zac Lopez-Ibanez, founder and principal designer at FEHLŌ, hits the sweet spot with home goods. His contemporary pieces highlight the simplicity of natural materials, including maple bar stools and chairs, sleek porcelain pendants, and hand-blown glassware designed in Asheville and handmade by U.S. artisans.

Modern, strong pieces like these bar stools have made Zac Lopez-Ibanez a noted name among home designers. His work garnered a Best in Show Award at 2015’s Dwell on Design showcase in Los Angeles.

This fusion of artistry and manufacturing begins in the FEHLŌ studio, where Lopez-Ibanez makes up to a dozen prototypes for each piece. “I think about the creative process a little bit differently,” he says. “I’m not starting with the material; I’m starting with the design.” Then he turns to trusted artisans to craft the design en masse.

Lopez-Ibanez’s designs are produced in runs of as many as 500 pieces. He works with several stateside artisans, including Jessie Bean and Anderson Bailey, the team behind Bean & Bailey out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. This allows Lopez-Ibanez to focus on his next design project while supporting fellow artists.

A glazed porcelain pendent light

He first met Bean and Bailey at Penland School of Crafts, where Lopez-Ibanez’s mother worked as a gardener. He remembers sitting at the knees of school’s resident blacksmiths, fetching them coal as he watched. “Going from studio to studio influenced me in thinking about multimedia,” he says. “Seeing art in that realm, it changed my view as to what the making process could be.”

Before Penland, Lopez-Ibanez was influenced by his grandfather’s textile factory in Charlotte. As a young boy, he was in awe of the hundreds of knitting machines that produced collars for shirt companies like Polo and Izod. At Penland, he started his journey to combine the efficiency of larger-scale production with the artistry of handcrafted goods.

Lopez-Ibanez’s designs are distinguished by a bold minimalism.

A local-first philosophy drove his recent collaborations: A built-in sitting area for East Fork Pottery’s new store in downtown Asheville, for example. Future projects include retail display pieces for Echoview Fiber Mill in Weaverville. This new retail work with local shops may seem like a leap from the handcrafted lighting and chairs FEHLŌ continues to produce, but they are all connected by Lopez-Ibanez’s commitment to style and quality.

Bring it Home

Find FEHLO’s contemporary lighting, furnishings, and kitchenware at www.fehlo.com.

Photographs by (desk) four blocks south; (3) courtesy of FEHLO