the stories behind the products

Karl Zahn on the development of the Contour Key Ring for Areaware.

"A coworker and friend of mine approached me one evening with a broken keychain. She had been using a large janitors keyring for a very long time and the threaded fitting finally just gave up. Knowing that I can fix things she was curious if I could help her put the janitors ring back together again. I remember holding it in my hands and saying, 'Well, I can’t fix this one. But I can make you a new one. A better one. Is that ok?'"

Early shape prototypes.

"It seemed like a relatively simple and fun project to machine a little slim threaded fitting and bend a shapely bale. I didn’t realize until much later that I was having way more fun with the bale shapes than I expected. And I remember after an hour or so I had 10 or so different sizes and shapes. I thought they were all really beautiful in their own way and I remember showing them to my friend as I gave her the replacement keyring saying 'do you think anyone would like these?'"

Karl Zahn is a freelance product and furniture designer in Greenpoint Brooklyn. His work examines contemporary materials and historical technologies in an attempt to create modern hybrids that are more applicable, beautiful and sustainable.
His designs express a pared down simplicity and stark aesthetic as a blend of modernist hard lines and surfaces with a Danish sensitivity to materials and joinery. Each piece is designed to withstand the passing of trends and foster complex relationships that grow more endearing over time.

Born and raised in rural Vermont, his work with wood and natural materials is an extension of the teachings from his home and time spent playing in forests and woodshops. After earning a degree in product design from the Rhode Island School of Design (2003), he travelled to San Francisco where he immersed himself in the creative and complicated metal working culture that thrives there. In 2007, he moved to New York to begin working on his own.

He has since had the opportunity to work with such established companies as Artecnica, Areaware, Teroforma, Lindsey Adelman Studio and Roll & Hill, as well as continuing collaborations with up and coming designers.

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