French Country Cottage. Powered by Blogger.

Behind the Collection~ Interview with a designer

I recently shared some of the beautiful and unique pieces spotted at
Phillips Collection while I was at High Point Spring Market in April.

While I was there
 I also had the pleasure of meeting one of their designers 
and learning more about what is behind some of those amazing collections.

 Meet Mandy Shanahan

Mandy is one of the talented designers at Phillips Collection. 

I met Mandy in person while previewing Phillips Collection in High Point
and being able to meet the people behind a design is such a treat.
 So many times you may fall in love with a piece of furniture or artwork for example
and you would love to know more about just what inspired it. 

At Phillips Collection - Every Piece is a Conversation
and that is definitely true for the beautiful pieces that Mandy is designing.

I caught up with Mandy last week and am excited to share more
with you about how she got started designing furniture for Phillips Collection
and more about the inspirations for some of her designs.

1. Tell us a little about yourself 

I grew up in a small town in CT. When I was little, my mom owned a fabric store and did custom draperies. I explored my creativity from a young age learning to sew and experimenting with all sorts of crafts from my mom’s store. I also had very creative sisters that I looked up to. I have 3 older sisters with a large age gap between us, and I always looked up to them and learned from them. My sister Jenn is an artist and does amazing realistic watercolor paintings, and my other 2 sisters are also very artistic.

When I was in high school trying to figure out what I wanted to major in in college, I knew I wanted to design, but I wasn’t sure what. I liked art, was great in math, so after looking into different programs, I decided on Architecture. I knew that with an Architecture degree, I could move on to be an architect or change directions into another branch of design. My heart was set on moving south and I fell in love with Clemson University. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Clemson in 2008.

2. Where did the inspiration for the pieces you design at Phillips Collection come from? 
What was important to you to focus on? 

For the most part, I am inspired by what is around me. I might see something in nature and be inspired by its form, or I may have a finish sample on my desk and envision it as a product. I always start with the concept of “Organic Contemporary.” When designing for Phillips Collection, each piece has to have an organic element to it. Whether it is hand crafted, the materials are made from natural material, or the form itself is organic, it needs to have an organic feel while still being contemporary in style. I love mixing a streamline material/finish with an organic form, or mixing a cool stainless steel with warm organic wood. Another factor to think about is our factory’s capabilities and price point. I need to have an idea of how the product will be made so I know if our factories can accomplish it at the right price for our customers.

3. Do you have a favorite piece or one that is special to you? 
What about a favorite line that you have created?

My favorite piece is the Frizzante Lamp.

Frizzante was one of my first designs to be produced and its inspiration was linked to my studies in Italy when I realized I wanted to design furniture. It was inspired by frizzante (bubbly) water in Italy. That tie to my experiences in Italy makes it a little more special. Not to mention, it has been one of our best selling lamps.

My favorite line would be our lighting line. Lighting is where I’ve really been able to shine at Phillips Collection. I was able to run free with my designs and develop a whole collection.

4.   How did you get started designing furniture? Was this always something that you dreamed of doing? 

While I always knew I wanted to design, I didn’t think about furniture design as an option when I was looking into schools. It wasn’t until 2007 when I was studying abroad that I knew I wanted to design furniture. I was studying in Italy through an architecture study program offered by Clemson. Our semester project was not only to design the exterior of a building but also some aspect of furnishings within the building. At the end of the semester, our projects were displayed at a booth in the Salone Satellite in the Milan Furniture Fair. While attending the exhibition, I was in awe of all of the modern furniture designs. I realized then that I had much more of a passion for furniture than I did architecture. So when it was time to plan my future after graduation, I decided to look into grad schools with product design. The University of North Carolina Greensboro had an Interior Architecture program that included a concentration in product design, and I thought it was a perfect fit because of my architecture background. While in grad school, I looked for a summer internship and found Phillips Collection. I interned there for a couple months and then they hired me on after the internship was over. I worked part time while completing school and have been there ever since.

5. Who inspires you? Favorite designer? 

A couple of my favorite designers are Patricia Urquiola and Marcel Wanders.


6. Do you have any advice for aspiring furniture designers?

Know that you may not become a designer right out of school. Look for a job in the industry and get to know the manufactures and learn all about how the industry works. Excel at what you do and get noticed. Proving that you are a hard worker and you are knowledgeable about products from production to sales will get your foot in the door to get your designs produced. Designing furniture is not just about coming up with cool concepts. You need to understand how products are made, what factories are capable of, and who your customer is.


Did you know that Phillips Collection has several award winning design & sustainability awards to their name?

7.  You have won several awards for your designs- can you tell us more about the awards and the designs behind them?

I was nominated for a Pinnacle Green Leaf award in 2012 for the Oil Drum Lamps, and I won a Pinnacle Award in the Casual Dining category for the Skeletal Collection in 2013. The Pinnacle Awards are announced during the High Point October market and are designed to credit the designer for a specific product/collection.

I won Product Designer of the Year at the ARTs Awards announced in Dallas in January 2014. This award is to recognize a designer for their body of work. Designers are first nominated by industry professionals and the designers with the most nominations become the finalists. 


Besides these designer awards, The Frizzante Lamp won an ADEX award in 2013, and the Kissing Butterflies table and Bite Lamps won 2014 ADEX awards. The Kissing Butterflies table was also a finalist in Interior Design Magazine’s Best of Year Awards.

8. Phillips Collection and sustainable design- pretty much hand in hand- can you talk more about sustainable design and what it means to you?

Sustainability is definitely and important aspect of design in today’s world. Consumers crave it and of course it is important to conserve our natural resources and have concern for our environment. I find it fun to create new products from old/unusable materials. For example, we have a whole line of products created from old oil drums that would have otherwise been in a landfill. The products are beautiful and also meaningful because they are repurposing what would otherwise be waste.

I loved learning more about Mandy and where the inspiration for her collections
at Phillips Collection come from!

I was truly inspired by meeting some of the designers
 and hearing the stories behind Phillips Collection.
They are much more than just an award winning  furniture company.
They are giving individual artists opportunities to share their work, focusing on sustainable designs~
and they are doing so much good with so much to give back as well.  They recently were a part of an effort helping to re-build and heal  with a healing garden for Sandy Hook Elementary
 using their log stools
You can read more about it in their blog post 

If you would like to know more about Phillips Collection
explore their products and find out 
where you can purchase their pieces-
you can find more information

I was compensated for this post by the High Point Market Authority 
but all opinions are my own, of course.

Follow on Bloglovin
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


  1. Amazing pieces, thank you for sharing! I love the Kissing butterfly table and the fact that there is a natural element with the wooden top. I also love that they are giving back to Sandy Hook, such a great cause:)

  2. I love it too- it's gorgeous. They are an awesome company doing great things.