Today, we’re celebrating couples on Fab by highlighting designing husband-and-wife teams like Aminimal, Deny Design , Rifle Paper, Yellow Owl and Vintage Marquee Lights.
But we also wanted to put the spotlight on another talented twosome , Constantin and Laurene Leon Boym of Boym Partners. This designing duo has lived and worked together since 1989, and together they have created some of the most intriguing, clever and strikingly beautiful products in contemporary U.S. design.
We caught up with them to quiz them about how they have managed to pull off 25 years of creative and marital bliss.
What was your first collaboration?
Constantin: It was a project that we made for an IDSA competition called A New Writing Instrument that ended up winning first prize. It was called “Edible Pencils,” and the idea came from people chewing on their pencils.
Laurene: We thought, why shouldn’t one be able to eat the whole pencil? So we made it out of biscotti dough with an edible charcoal as the “lead.” It was a playful and ironic take that ended up getting a lot of attention.
So, then, since you were so successful together you decided to create more things?
L: No! It actually wasn’t an enjoyable experience and we were like “We’re never gonna do this again!” and worked on separate projects for a long time. It wasn’t until 1995 that we started collaborating again.
C: It was unplanned. We were both off doing different things, but I had started designing tableware for the German company Authentics, and Laurene became very engaged in that work. Among other things, we created a collection of plastic containers that became huge mass-market hits and are now included in the permanent design collection at MoMA.
So what is it about your creative chemistry that makes the two of you so good together?
L: We complement each other. We love pop culture and have the same taste and similar empathy. That’s what connected us from the beginning.
C: But we also have differences: I’m from Russia, she’s 100% American; I started as an architect, she has a fine art background. It’s like a band, you need different sounds to come together.
L: We try to have a lot of fun, and not be too serious about our work. We treat a design object like a person, as it has its own character. And since humor is a well-regarded quality in a person, we think it’s a great attribute for an object, too.
How do you separate your life and work?
L: Oftentimes when we speak to other designer couples who collaborate, they complain that they work all the time. You have to get out of your work sphere. We make sure to get out to see movies, theatre, art exhibits. For the work that we do, we have to be in touch with contemporary culture.
C: I also like to follow music and sports—you can’t be 100% locked in to this rarefied design existence. You have to bring the world into your design if you want your design to be part of the world.