Published on April 10, 2019

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photo courtesy of ben and aja blanc

The first time I laid eyes on Ben and Aja Blanc’s Equus Mirror, it sent shivers up my spine. As someone who is personally fascinated by ASMR—a euphoric sensation that can be triggered by soft voices or ambient sounds—and the sizable internet community that is dedicated to videos that induce said feelings of relaxationI can tell you with confidence: This was so much better.

Both partners in design and real life, you’ve probably heard about the husband-and-wife duo through a “whisper down the lane” game of sorts. In the first year of launching their Providence, Rhode Island, studio together, the pair made a splash with their fiber series. Although their work has grown to encompass one-of-a-kind mirrors, lighting, and furniture, their signature Half Moon Mirror continues to grace the entryways and bedrooms of stylish homebodies. 

So how can an object as simple as this bring me—and others like me—immense satisfaction? Blame it on the art of juxtaposition.

“The fiber series was really about an interest in partnering materials that would otherwise not be put together,” shares Aja. “Creating juxtaposition is something that we’re super into. If you create juxtaposition and its successful, you’re actually creating balance.”

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An East Hampton, New York, home designed by Amanda Jesse and Whitney Parris-Lamb. photography by nicole franzen

In the case of the Equus Mirror, the power of opposing materials is upheld by a wave of Mongolian horsehair that hangs from translucent layers of peach-colored glass. The couple’s most recent collection, Marfa, achieves a similar soothing sensation through a combination of white oak and curly shearling. They’re pushing the known boundaries of what hard and soft can be and they make it look easy.

“Creating juxtaposition is something that we’re super into. If you create juxtaposition and its successful, you’re actually creating balance.”

“Aja and I are formalists at heart,” says Ben. “We like to strip objects down to their basic geometric forms. With a mirror, that can be a very cold outcome, so we wanted to find a way to create a warmth that’s not necessarily physical but visual.”

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photo courtesy of ben and aja blanc

Their Meret Compositions, an ever-growing lineup of one-of-a-kind mirrors available exclusively through The Future Perfect, continue to fuel their need for experimentation, particularly where shape is concerned.

“We wanted to find a way of creating a warmth that’s not necessarily physical but visual.”

“We’re trying to explore how shape can add warmth to a material. So instead of having a cold material and a warm material and having that be the juxtaposition, [we want to know] what happens when the shape itself adds that sense of lightness,” explains Aja. 

Here are five feel-good pieces we could stare at all day long. 

If you want to stop guests in their tracks…

Easily their most popular piece, Ben and Aja’s Half Moon Mirror has become a staple in chic entryways, the likes of which include our spring cover star, Garance Doré. The cosmos plays a subtle and often subconscious role in the designers’ work. In some cases, it’s the title—Apollo, Leo, Aries—that says it all. In other instances, the reference is strictly visual. From far away, a patina glass surface may read as a pure graphic, but when viewed up close, you’re transported to another planet. 

If you collect one-of-a-kind pieces…

Looking ahead to the rest of 2019, the duo is excited to continue to push the boundaries of their Meret Compositions, releasing a new piece every few months. “It’s a really exciting project. Already, the evolution from one [mirror] to seven feels fairly dramatic,” says Ben. “I think the pieces will become looser over the next year.”

Free from the weight of production, Ben and Aja have found that creativity comes a lot easier when you know something is a “one and done.” “As makers and designers, it’s really exciting for us,” adds Aja. “Working in a one-of-a-kind moment is thrilling.”

If you swear by your horoscope…

Texture is one of the easiest ways to transmit warmth in a home, but Ben and Aja know it’s not the only path. If their fiber works are a testament to the value of touch, their other mirrored objects deliver good vibes through sight. “Typically with mirrors, the warmth comes from the frame. But in our case, we’ve made a conscious decision not to work with frames. All our mirrors are frameless, and we like the challenge of that,” shares Ben.

Denying their works of the conventional features that make a mirror a mirror, the designers’ pieces bring new meaning to the rooms they come to call home. “As soon as a mirror leaves our studio, it’s going into a space where it’s going to reflect everything that’s in that room. Whatever those distinctive qualities are, [it’s going to] absorb that and become a part of it,” explains Aja.

If you’re a hands-on learner…

The pair’s newest line is both highly conceptual and extremely lovable. Sticking to oak wood and short-cut curly shearling, the pieces in the Marfa Collection evoke coziness through tension. The sheer balance between hard and soft is utterly satisfying, particularly in the case of this structured chair, which includes a cave-like cubby below.

“For us, it was just a really nerdy, conceptual, and enjoyable thing to make,” says Aja of the collection. Aesthetic pleasures aside, the Marfa collection pays homage to two design greats: Donald Judd and Méret Oppenheim. In a dream world, this is what Ben and Aja presume might take place if the two artists sat down and created a furniture collection together. 

If your wild side is your best side…

Trekking through unfamiliar territory is a walk in the park for this creative couple and it shows in the way they turn unexpected materials, like horsehair and translucent glass, into art objects for the home. “At the end of the day, it’s almost hard to stay focused. Materials are a huge inspiration for us,” shares Aja.

With plans to roll out more mirrors and a new lighting collection this year, the couple has a lot on their plate. Still, in the business of it all, they still find time to do life with their two young daughters, go on dates, and get out of the studio. “Being designers and being parents are the two biggest roles of our lives right now, but aside from those two big jobs, we actually like hanging out with each other,” laughs Aja.

“The work that we’re making together is so much better than what either of us could do individually,” adds Ben. “That’s not to say it’s an easy process or there’s no negotiating, but we genuinely believe that what we do together is better. It makes it all worth it.”

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Inside the Fruitful Imagination of New York’s Most Coveted Lighting Designer

This Mother-Daughter Team Designed the Ultimate Cool-Girl Furniture

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