The Collectors: Chris Benz’s Items “With Energy”

Krupp Group/Catherine Blair Pfander

With a wide-variety of thoughtful and meticulously organized collections, it doesn't seem implausible that designer Chris Benz might eventually star in a less-scary and highly chic version of "Hoarders." From practical items like turn-of-the-century vintage suitcases to the charmingly oddball (die-cut flower tools, for example) Benz says he's attracted to items with "inherent spirit and energy," and often uses his collections to enliven his workspace and studio.

Vintage Suitcases: "Any novelty vintage suitcase, especially navy blue and navy blue with white trim.  Extra points for vintage travel stickers attached!"

On starting his collection: "I have always been a huge fan of vintage suitcases and even had them in my high school bedroom in Seattle. I started collecting navy blue suitcases when we moved into our original studio in 2006. "

Obsessed because: "This is the perfect collection for pack rats because they’re terrific props for your office or apartment on their own, and a much better storage solution than plastic bins. I have suitcases at my apartment filled with off-season clothing, holiday decorations, and anything that just needs to go away but still be accessible."

Scavenged at: "I find most of these vintage suitcases at flea markets. It’s good to see collections like this in real life so you can inspect the weight and state of repairs. "

Mid-Century Pottery: "Raymor, Gambone, Rosenthal Netter, Bitossi, and Sascha Brastoff Ceramics & Pottery ."

Started Collecting: "
I’ve been collecting mid-century ceramics and pottery for years, ever since I first started going to rummage sales with my grandmother as a little kid. I was always attracted to bright, unusual glazes and nice proportions. I still am, and to show for it I have literally hundreds of pieces.

Scavenged At: "
I find it everywhere – flea markets, vintage stores, in New York and even while travelling...I always have my eyes peeled for a bright turquoise 60’s pieces of pottery. eBay is also a goldmine for vintage pottery, but obviously the riskiest investment ... shipping is sometimes hazardous!

Die-Cut Flower Tools
: Antique die-cuts for making fabric flowers .

Started collecting: "Ever since our very first collection in 2007, fabric flowers have been an integral part of our collection.  We inherited a whole lot of tools from a vendor that sadly went out of business, and they make a terrific design element and story in the studio."

Obsessed Because: "I love the industrial and heavy nature of the tools, and how despite their brutish appeal, are used to create the most delicate beautiful fabric flowers. It’s a wonderful item to collect, because there is a real inherent spirit and energy in tools that is sometimes lost in other inanimate objects.

Scavenged At: "I search for these online often, but they’re quite rare and so are a very special collection, indeed."


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