Designers & Artists

Catching the Light: Meet Nicholas Obeid

The interior and product designer shares how photography inspires his process and the importance of living with style

Product designer, interior designer, photographer: Nicholas Obeid is a man of many talents. His work has been featured in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest and on design shows alike, and we’re super excited to add him to CB2’s roster of talented designers and artists.

Obeid, who works from his New York City apartment, is the mastermind behind pieces like the sleek Slope Cement Coffee Table and Mondrian-esque Impression Multicolor Mirror. “I’m inspired by the idea of improving the way someone lives,” Obeid says. “Living with style affects the way you face the day.” We asked him to share a peek into his process and show us some of his favorite pieces. Read on for our exclusive Q&A.

Meet CB2 Product Designer Nicholas Obeid

Everything starts with a sketch.

Meet CB2 Product Designer Nicholas Obeid

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Short answer: everywhere. Any beach is where my mind is the clearest. This summer, that’s where I sketched all of my Fall 2021 lighting concepts for CB2. If I’m on the hunt for something specific, it’s typically shelter magazines. But I try to gather inspiration along the way so it’s there when I need it. I pride myself on neurotically organized Pinterest boards, ranging from tabletop prop styling to typography, brick exteriors to hotel headboards—just in case.

HOW DOES PHOTOGRAPHY INFLUENCE YOUR DESIGNS?

I like to take every bit of inspiration I get and filter it through my lens, and that includes photography. Photography taught me about composition. I’m obsessed with light and shapes and shadows, and I think that really comes through in the products I design.

Meet CB2 Product Designer Nicholas Obeid

PLEASE TAKE US THROUGH YOUR PROCESS AND HOW ONE OF YOUR DESIGNS COMES TO LIFE.

Everything starts with a sketch. In the case of an interior, the floor plan sets the foundation for me, followed by material moodboards and collages of inspiration that range from the shape of a shadow to a door I photographed while traveling. Eventually it’s narrowed to something more specific. Without calculating too rigidly, there is somewhat of a ratio inherently taken into consideration. For example, an airy glass coffee table balances the weight of a skirted sofa, and the warmth of wood goes a long way in a room full of gleaming metal. I prefer to start with anchoring pieces like beds and sofas, which are often custom, and then layer over time. When designing product, the material often dictates the rest.

Design, in its essence, is about problem solving.

Meet CB2 product designer Nicholas Obeid

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?

My personal style tends to be a bit mixed—moreso a collection of things I’m drawn to than a particular “style”—but each project allows me the opportunity to execute a client’s unique vision through my own lens. I recently had fun veering traditional, a bit outside my usual vocabulary, and really explored my love of bold color.

WHAT DOES DESIGN MEAN TO YOU?

Design, in its essence, is about problem solving. Whether that refers to type hierarchy that allows you to find your way around an airport, or a dining room that encourages you to entertain, something well designed should improve your experience.

Interior design is not about one particular table or chair, it’s about the culmination of several complementary elements and the collective sentiment—how it all makes you feel. Product design does not allow you that flexibility, it’s about adhering to a singular concept—whittling down several ideas to the best fit. You only have one chance to get it right.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BEST DESIGNED ITEM OF ALL TIME?

Anything integral to your day that works so well it doesn’t even occur to you. Something uncomplicated that’s easy to look at and easy to live with. Chairs come to mind. The proportions are so critical, and I’m fascinated by the number of iterations that stem from a simple form.

Meet CB2 Product Designer Nicholas ObeidMeet CB2 Product Designer Nicholas Obeid

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT NYC?

Spontaneous interaction with friends, never-ending creative stimulation and fast pace.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE POSSESSION?

I’m pretty into the latest addition to my ever-rotating apartment, a vintage Italian two-tier table in cream lacquer and brass.

BIGGEST INDULGENCE?

Instagram. There is endless creativity to thumb through and I try to have some fun on my own page, too (@nicholas_obeid).

BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED OR GIVEN?

Work for the job you want—the recognition comes later. I’d say follow your instinct and, simply put, work hard. Every little bit of effort counts. For me, every night I stayed in to be the first at the flea market Sunday morning helped me learn about vintage product and furnish my first apartment on a dime, which then led me to experiment with photography and learn about composition.

Meet CB2 Product Designer Nicholas Obeid

Quick Fire

  • Work in silence or with background noise: R&B music
  • Soundtrack of your life: Mariah
  • We’ll never catch you without: Headphones
  • Guilty pleasure: Homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches
  • Airport reads: GQ magazine
  • Style icon: Yves Saint Laurent
  • Favorite designer: Jacquemus, JW Anderson, Alexandre Mattiussi
  • You’ll never get sick of: Olive green
  • Favorite place to travel: Greece for the scenery, Beirut for the food
  • Where you’d most like to live: New York City :-)
  • On your nightstand: A task lamp I brought back from Buenos Aires and the latest issue of AD
  • Your greatest extravagance: Cameras
  • Most treasured possession: My dad’s gold tennis bracelet from Syria
  • Talent you’d most like to have: Sleeping on command
  • Your most overused word or phrase: “Yikes”
  • City or country: City, dreaming of country …
  • Vintage or new: A mindful mix of both. The nicest spaces feel artfully collected over time.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Select photos courtesy Nicholas Obeid.

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