Staff Staff -- Casual Living, August 15, 2006
Robert Mainville considers himself a modernist. Influenced by the works of Ray and Charles Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright and Albert Frey, that view is keeping the designer busy in the casual industry.
Mainville has an expansive resume. After earning a bachelor of science degree in industrial design from California State University in Long Beach, he worked for a couple of industrial design-consulting firms and then, in 1999, began working within the casual industry under Richard Frinier at Brown Jordan.
"My junior year (in college), a furniture designer made a presentation," Mainville said. "He sold me on furniture design and I chased it from then on."
Mainville's Vista Collection for Brown Jordan, above, combines cast and tubular aluminum for a contemporary line. The Armada Collection, below, also for Brown Jordan, etches exotic influence into a teak deep seating line.
At Brown Jordan, Mainville developed his first outdoor design, the Breeze Collection. Taking a look at the line's aluminum construction and sleek style, one would agree Mainville takes to contemporary design. Also by Mainville for Brown Jordan, the Vista Collection features a streamlined minimal design constructed of cast and tubular aluminum. The Devonshire Collection combines teak and aluminum and is highlighted by an updated English wingback with a hand-woven rosewood weave. And finally, the Armada line, an exotic Caribbean-style collection made of teak.
The designer also has worked with other well-known manufacturers in the industry, from Tropitone and Tommy Bahama to Smith & Hawken. His favorite design, South Seas for Tommy Bahama, allowed Mainville to do a lot of historical research about the colonization of the Dutch and the Portuguese.
"I found the whole process stimulating," he said. "Discovery is part of the process, it makes it fun."
The coming years are sure to keep Mainville busy as well. With a design studio — Robert Edward Design — that opened in June 2006, Mainville also has several products in the works. Through a "limited exclusive partnership," a yet-to-be-named cast combination collection for Terra will be introduced for 2007, inspired by an East Indies colonial design. Three designs are currently in the works for Tropitone and will debut in 2008. Also on Mainville's plate are collections for ScanCom and Amco.
"Timing is always challenging," he said. "But I get a great sense of accomplishment from seeing a design come to fruition."
Mainville enjoys combining mediums, especially teak and woven materials, where "designs tend to be a little more sculptural," he said.
In addition to designing outdoor furniture, Mainville enjoys the outdoors in general, and spends time surfing, boating and mountain climbing "to clear the head."