Natural Selection: Trove

Matt Dougherty • September 19, 2018
Randall Buck and Jee Levin. Photography courtesy of Knoll and Trove

Nature has been ingrained in Jee Levin and Randall Buck’s designs since the beginning. “We started very much in the dirt,” Levin jokes. After meeting in Minneapolis, Levin, a painter, and Buck, a multimedia artist, started a clay studio together before moving to New York in 2006 with “the idea of elevating design to the level of art,” Buck explains. With a focus on wallcovering, the pair launched as a way to bring their two mediums together.

Their ethereal, and often hand-drawn, pieces take cues from the world around them, most notable in their first collection, which was inspired by Chelsea’s flower market in New York and included photographs, paintings, and drawings of flora at a very large scale. Buck equates the way they work together to a team of editors crafting a piece of writing. “It can be a creative struggle to be adding and subtracting [from each other’s work],” he says, “but that keeps it honest.”

The Atmosphere collection explores patterns found in nature with designs inspired by a waterfall, bamboo, and river stones.

That approach led them to a partnership with Knoll after a chance meeting at ICFF in 2012, which has since birthed two collections. The first, Vivid, combines simple brushstrokes and vibrant colors into an array of patterns that celebrate the freedom of movement. Yeddalin recently, Atmosphere pushes the limits of pattern, scale, and repeat by exploring how the forces of nature influence and create patterns, all interpreted through watercolor.

Trove has expanded its custom offerings as well, with many of the studio’s most intricate works found in Hyatt projects around the world, and soon a Ritz-Carlton in Los Angeles, as well as the renovation of the iconic Waldorf Astoria in New York. “We like custom projects because they’re outside any starting point we would have for ourselves,” Levin says. As for their own product line, the duo is sticking close to nature, currently studying patterns found in ice. “With each collection, we’re trying to do something different,” Levin adds. “We have to keep the conversation going.”

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