BassamFellows

To Stand the Test of Time

The designing minds behind BassamFellows retreat to their steel-and-glass home in pursuit of inspiration for new classic furniture.

Lisa Marie Hart Current Digital, Home & Design, Real Estate

BassamFellows
The Rancho Mirage home of Craig Bassam and Scott Fellows (left) is where they recharge while sketching out new lines of furniture.
PHOTOGRAPH BY TOM FERGUSON

Architect Craig Bassam and creative director Scott Fellows formed BassamFellows in 2003 to merge their talents under a “Craftsman Modern” umbrella. Influenced by the rigorous design principles of modernism, they also stand by the warmth and comfort that comes from long-lasting natural materials and beautiful craftsmanship.

Since debuting the Tractor Stool in Milan the same year, the brand has unveiled architectural and interior projects and collaborated with Herman Miller, Geiger Textiles, Bally, and some of the world’s leading craftspeople — all while attracting a global following through furniture lines, lifestyle objects, and personal accessories. Their Rancho Mirage residence, designed in 1970 by architect Crombie Taylor, has been a place of rejuvenation for these two collectors, preservationists, and heavy hitters of design — even before they launched the company. The home is as much of a think tank as it is a haven.

How did you become familiar with the area?

We first went to Palm Springs in April 1997. We were shooting a fashion campaign at a modern house in L.A. and the location scout asked if we wanted to meet Albert Frey. We jumped at the chance and, when the shoot wrapped, we drove out for the weekend. We fell in love immediately — the climate, the landscape, the architecture, and Mr. Frey. From then on, every time we wanted a break from work and travel between Connecticut and Europe, we would go to Palm Springs

What makes this home “the perfect escape”?

As we got to know the area, we started looking at houses with a real estate broker, but nothing really clicked.

Sling Club Chair with a solid walnut and bronze frame.

He asked us to describe our ultimate house and we described a steel-and-glass pavilion, which we thought was an impossible ask. Remarkably, he said he knew of the perfect house — a house in Rancho Mirage — but that it had recently sold after languishing on the market for years.

A few months later, the broker told us the house was back on the market and sent us the floor plan and a brochure. We couldn’t believe our eyes: it had two twin steel-and-glass pavilions separated by a pool courtyard. We purchased the house in 2001.
For us, what sets it apart is that it is a true International Style house from the “Second Chicago School” of Mies van der Rohe. Crombie Taylor was a contemporary of Mies, not a student, but his architecture is solidly part of the school coming from the Bauhaus after it relocated to Chicago.

What do your chairs provide to the lineage of design and to the client?

Our furniture designs combine an industrial process with a true artisan hand — a mixture that is rare to find in the furniture industry. We aspire to create modernist classics that stand the test of time, much in the same way that the Crombie Taylor house is a modernist classic. The house mixes architectural rigor with beautiful, hand-worked details, and we love the dialogue between the architecture, our furniture pieces, and the vintage furniture we collect.

ovidloungechair

The Ovoid Lounge Chair in solid oak and camel leather.

Does your time here influence your work?

We find the desert environment to be most conducive to big-picture and creative thinking. It is where we plan our next moves and often design our next collections. In fact, our company’s origin story was born from a creative brainstorming session we had shortly after moving into the house. We pivoted from careers in architecture and fashion/luxury to create a lifestyle brand with a focus on furniture. You could say our brand wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t met a real estate broker that found us our ultimate house.

petalarmchair

Petal Armchair in walnut.

tractorstool

The carved solid walnut Tractor Stool debuted in Milan in 2003, launching the new company into the spotlight.

Chair photographs by Marco Favali (3) and Eldon Zimmerman.