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The Winsome Brave

Primal utility gets a feminine touch

by John Ortved in Design on 06 June 2012

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Valerie Gnaedig and Annie Lenon fabricate industrial objects that re-imagine some of our most basic items like nails, or a stone you might wield at an enemy. The Brooklyn-based design duo, known as The Winsome Brave, have been making work together for less than a year, but are quickly charming the design community with their feminine touch on primal utility.

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"We're branding them now as Nomadic Hanging Stones," says Gnaedig of the rocks and boulders currently hanging from the ceiling of The Future Perfect's temporary showroom (until June 9). These versions, which range from 1-25 pounds, are large-scale installation versions of the stone-and-cord, "Nomadic Weapon" design objects Gnaedig and Lenon sell on Winsome Brave's website. Originally debuted at a show curated by The American Design Club, Future Perfect owner David Alhadeff noticed the rocks and asked Winsome Brave to build an installation.

"We designed smaller hanging rocks that were intended to be weapons to bash people," jokes Gnaedig, "but be hidden to the world as beautiful rocks with colored cord. Secret weaponry for people who like pretty shit."

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While Winsome Brave only formed in January of 2012, in addition to the stones the two friends have also garnered attention for their "Hardware", a series of artisanal, triangular nails, brackets and drawer pulls.

"The Equilateral Nails took off as an idea for us because we had never seen nails that weren't circular," says Gnaedig. "How awesome to have beautiful bronze triangular nails?"

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While Winsome Brave has designed some impressive business cards, and specialized in custom invitations, both designers were interested in challenging objects with the most basic of functions. "Through making them, we learned why nails are round," says Lenon. "They are forged using long, circular steel rods, that are then cut in sections by whichever length of nail you need. And then, while the rod is held still at one end, it is whacked on the other to make the circular head flat."

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Between the two of them, Gnaedig and Lenon bring a diverse wealth of experience to Winsome Brave—Gnaedig's design career began in motion design, but has accumulated experience in animation, letterpressing, prop styling and web design, while Lenon is a Pratt graduate with a background in packaging for companies like West Elm and Ralph Lauren, as well as jewelry and metals. They're currently working on a wealth of graphic projects, angling towards food packaging and designs for restaurants (because, they ask, what's more primal than eating?), but at the same time have carved out an impressive niche tweaking the beautiful simplicity of our most common objects.

"With utilitarian objects, like a standard nail, no one thinks about them anymore. They are so common, they're lost from thought," says Gnaedig. "But when you put a slight twist on it, they become points of conversation again. They see these triangular nails on Pinterest and they're like, 'Oh, I remember nails. Nails can be sweet.'"

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