Dynamic Design Duo
Spending time with DBO Home
DBO Home is a series of very busy little rooms leading to Dana and Daniel’s living space where everything is touched by Dana or Daniel’s hand.
Photo by Antoine Bootz
“We are the farm to the table—to the plate on top of the table,” says Dana as Daniel, her partner, cuts generous slices of his freshly baked sourdough for afternoon tea. Daniel has baked the bread, jarred the jam, and built the polished wood table at the center of this kitchen. The food, or course, is presented on Dana’s porcelain mugs and plates; asymmetrically curving forms, pressed with a tracery of honeycomb, and glazed in white and indigo blue. Husband and wife design team Dana Brandwein and Daniel Oats are DBO Home—a partnership that is clearly more than the sum of its parts.
Here, so much of their world has been crafted or created by their own hand, bringing to mind the German concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work of art. Their enviable live-work existence is housed in a converted turn of the century cow shed, tucked behind two silos and a barn in Sharon. The kitchen is the pivot-point of a series of rooms leading in opposite directions to their respective work spaces. In one direction, is Dana’s ceramics studios, in the other is the barn, where Daniel makes a myriad of things: fabricating furniture, building boats, and casting bronze.
Just over a decade ago, they were living in the West Village, and Daniel, an artist, was showing with 303 gallery in New York, working as an assistant to artist Robert Gober, and designing toys. Dana was over 20 years into a career working at Elektra records. As a production manager, she worked with bands like Metallica, Pantera, StereoLab and Billy Bragg. But contrary to the a life of rock and roll, she was dreaming of being a designer.
September 11th 2001 was a turning point for Dana, and on the 12th she was registering for her first pottery class. This was the first step in what was to become a complete career transformation. A few years later, her first line of tableware was picked up by ABC Home at a trade show, followed by Bergdorf, Barneys, and West Elm. So, in 2004 Dana and Daniel bought three kilns, and moved full time to Sharon.
The balance of the DBO partnership extends from their design process to the materiality of their forms. The use of hand stitched leather on the jugs in their Remo collection was inspired by Daniel’s obsession with Norwegian boat building, making reference to the leather covered oar handles.
The faceted forms of their Battuto line was Dana’s idea brought to life by Daniel’s hand, when he began bashing a lump of clay on the worktable. The name Battuto pays homage to the process. “It means “to hit’ in Italian - and everything sounds better in Italian...” says Dana.
“I love to work with people. You can’t do it in a vacuum,“ says Dana. While they remain a tiny company, comprised of Dana, Daniel, and studio assistant Rice Evans, they love to work with clients. They partnered recently with interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud to create a customized line of lamps for the rooms at Troutbeck, in nearby Amenia. The lamp bases are a seductive combination of pale organic porcelain joined to hand turned wood.
They partner nationally with hospitality and retail such as ABC Carpet and Home and West Elm, as well as a long list of regional retailers, such as Privet House and Darren Winston booksellers. They may be hidden behind two silos on a quiet country road, but look hard enough, and you will be sure to find DBO Home.