DELVE Interview: Annie Coggan from Chairs and Buildings

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Networking Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces. 

Annie Coggan, photograph by Kind Aesthetic

Annie Coggan, photograph by Kind Aesthetic

We are happy to share an interview with Annie Coggan, whom we have had the pleasure of working with over the past few months. Annie is an inspiring person who, like many creative people, wears many hats: she is a designer, artist, educator, writer, founder of a popular design blog called Chairs and Buildings, and a principal at Coggan + Crawford Architecture and Design based in Brooklyn, NY.

Annie was a speaker at our DELVE: Fabrication event at the Textile Arts Center back in January. Since then, she has been working hard to reframe all components of her practice to more effectively be able to share them with the world. Her personal site is a beautiful look into the past twenty five years of furniture and art work, a collection of her writing, and a showcase of her Roommaking, which is how she frames her interior design work.

Roommaking derives from the belief that there are three layers of an interior: the wall layer or architectural layer, the furniture layer and the object layer. This framework establishes the depth of the project and enables her to compose rooms completely. The colors and elements put into place have an authentic quality — although they are new to the space there is a ‘rightness’ to the condition.
— Annie Coggan

Plus, she also just relaunched Chairs and Buildings, a popular design blog that she has been writing for the past seven years. Now, the new platform will dive deeper into design issues that  bring forward how designers think beyond what the consumer requires. Each month presents a unique topic, investigations, photo essays and guest contributors. Read July's issue here on the subject Botanical. It's fantastic.

Needless to say, working with Annie was fun and inspiring for us.  We helped her archive her work, tell her incredibly unique story to the world, and learned so much from her ideas and unique way of thinking about design and history. Enjoy the interview, and thanks, Annie, for sharing with us!

Mrs Welty's Garden Chair by Annie Coggan,  Photo by Jennifer Hudson

Mrs Welty's Garden Chair by Annie Coggan, Photo by Jennifer Hudson

Can you briefly describe your path as a creative professional and what drives the unique vision for your furniture and embroidery projects, Roommaking and Chairs and Buildings?

I studied History and Fine Art with architecture classes at Bennington College and I have a Masters of Architecture from Sci-Arc in Los Angeles. So I am a “progressively” trained architect–this means that I was educated to think like an architect but not always just make buildings. I always was attracted to more intimate scales and stories of space. For years as a young architect, our work was very service-oriented so to push myself I always had a battery of “other” clients like Virginia Woolf and Flannery O’Connor. Making spaces, places and objects for them specifically pushed my thinking and created my method of making things now. Now that our architecture practice at Coggan + Crawford is more constant and stable, my furniture and object work now meld into that world and all the work is highly charged and imaginative.

Can you describe a day, or week, in your professional life?

No one day is the same because I have an active teaching schedule. I like to work on email, writing and general getting to know the world in the early morning, around 6:30 or so. I try to get an hour walk in everyday because I just think better if I get out. I meet clients and have meetings during the day. Evenings and weekends, I stitch and work on my furniture pieces.

A drawing from a historic house project,   Lee House, Arlington,   by Annie Coggan

A drawing from a historic house project, Lee House, Arlington, by Annie Coggan

What is your favorite project that you've worked on, or are currently looking forward to?

Immediately, I am working on a very small but delightful kitchen for a client, and on a wing chair that has embroidered facades and maps of Marie Antoinette’s Le Petit Trianon.  I am also doing some long-range work on my Historic House obsession – should I write a book or should I make a historic house myself? These are the kind of things that go through my head!

Since we've worked closely together over the past few months, can you share what you've learned about your practice and how we've helped you?

I appreciate that your method of working is artifact based; the result of working with you is a web site (in my case two) and a deep and thorough archive. For someone that is a maker, it was a relief that there would be a strong result after some pretty deep self-reflection. I found that you asked the right questions about my work so I could push the narrative of my process further.

And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

Well, Paris is always the first answer. But I am always very excited about house museums and understanding that kind of intimate domestic scale first hand. I have found making the time to have coffee with an artist friend really gets me going these days, something they say or something in their studio will want to get me back to my work table. I always want to work creatively so I rarely “need” inspiration; I just need more time to make.

Annie Coggan's Full Bio:

Annie Coggan is a designer, artist, educator, founder of Chairs and Buildings, and a principal at Coggan + Crawford Architecture and Design based in Brooklyn, NY. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Coggan received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Bennington College in Vermont and her Master of Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Los Angeles CA. Her work has been exhibited at A D/B Project Space (Brooklyn), Gestarc Gallery (Brooklyn), Barbara Toll Fine Arts (Manhattan), the Textile Arts Center (Brooklyn), Mississippi CAAD Visual Arts Center, and more. She has curated exhibitions at TODA (New York), Irondale Center for the Arts (Brooklyn), amongst others. She currently is on the faculty at Pratt Institute and The School of Visual Arts in New York City.  She has been featured in Furniture A+D, Journal of Architectural Educationdesign*sponge and Remodelista, as well being contributor to the literary journal A Public Space, AIA’s e-oculus, and Architect Mag. In 2010, she was an artist in residence at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn and continues to teach workshops and was a founding member of the Board of Directors. Coggan has recently re-launched Chairs and Buildings, a platform for expanding the discussion around design thinking.

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