Meet Someone Awesome: Joe Gebbia

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Airbnb zillionaire Joe Gebbia

Joe Gebbia is an up-and-coming furniture designer who should not quit his day job. Not because he isn’t talented. His first collection of office seating and tables, Neighborhood, recently debuted at the prestigious International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, and it’s great – modular furniture that looks sharp enough to sit in a chic living room.

Instead, it’s because Gebbia’s day job just happens to be changing the worlds of travel and business. He is the 35-year-old co-founder and chief product officer at Airbnb. Since launching the home-sharing company in 2008 with two friends, he’s convinced over three million homeowners in 191 countries to open their doors to strangers, helped hundreds of millions of tourists more affordably travel the globe, built a business worth over $30-billion (U.S.) and spurred a new form of economy – the sharing economy.

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Meet Someone Awesome: Sheila Hicks

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Artist Sheila Hicks

Sheila Hicks is a curious combination of artist and anthropologist. She doggedly records her impressions of the places and people she sees and meets, doing so using an unconventional medium: textiles. The 82-year-old, Paris-based American carries a notepad wherever she goes, but prefers to capture her observations using a small, makeshift loom. “It’s a rack with nails on it,” she explains. “I don’t need luggage when I travel. I can get away with my wristwatch, a carry-on of clothes, a pencil, and my little loom.”

Hicks’s woven sketches, which she calls minimes (French for minimal, not a contraction of Mini Me), are currently on display as part of Material Voices, a retrospective of her work at Toronto’s Textile Museum – her first ever show in Canada. Each small tapestry tells a story. Hastings Grand features dried corn husks caught in an earth-toned weave of wool, silk linen and cotton. It’s a send-up to Hastings, Neb., where she was born, that captures the beauty of the quiet, easy-to-overlook place.

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Meet Someone Awesome: Chair Designer Andrew Jones

Chair designer Andrew Jones

Chair designer Andrew Jones

Battery Park, New York City’s 25-acre, tree-filled oasis at the southern tip of Manhattan, is about to become even more welcoming. The Battery Conservancy, the non-profit organization that supports the park, recently wrapped up a two-year competition for new signature seating, something more inspired than the basic benches already there. The winning entry, a perforated steel chair called Fleurt, is a whimsical, floral-shaped design that could have been plucked from a Marimekko print. In 2015, 300 of them will dot Battery Park’s newly renovated central lawn. New Yorkers can thank Toronto’s Andrew Jones when they settle into one.

Fleurt is only Jones’s second major public design, but the first was equally prominent: He is also responsible for the Jackie-Kennedy-pink umbrellas in Toronto’s acclaimed Sugar Beach, a Claude Cormier work that the city’s Ford brothers tried to make disingenuous hay out of recently by citing its supposedly exorbitant cost (four years after it was installed). On Oct. 15, Jones won the juried New York competition (including a $10,000 cash prize) by beating out almost 700 entrants from 15 countries. For the final round, his idea had to pass a sit-off, which saw the general public casting votes for their favourite among the five top proposals after trying them out. Nearly 4,000 people cast a ballot, which Jones won handily.