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Silicone Valley

Forward-thinking product designer Rebecca Finell is reshaping the utilitarian into cleverly-designed, indestructible works of art.


Designer Rebecca Finell

Designer Rebecca Finell’s canny, stylish baby products revolutionized an industry where cute usually trumps utility. Her ingenious sensibility is coupled with a Ms. Fix-It impulse that bestows everything Finell touches with chic revelation. There are at least 2 million buyers of Finell’s Frog Pod (a 24-inch-long wall-mounted plastic scoop in which to clean and store bath toys) who worship the ground the designer walks on. After selling her award-winning company, Boon, two years ago, the mother of three has turned her talent to housewares—an area she admits is her first love.

The new company, Finell Co., is based in Austin, a move the entrepreneur made from Tempe, Ariz., to have access to creative types who populate the hipster mecca. It’s obvious that the decision paid off: Finell’s product lines began rolling out in February, starting with 3-D silicone place mats that are heat-resistant and can seamlessly align to form a table runner. A 20-inch Grip tray is also coming. Made of powder-coated aluminum, the round tray ($495) comes in black or white and is crisscrossed with silicone bands that secure drinks and dishes in their web. “You’ve seen waiters lose control of a tray,” Finell says, “and once those dishes start to slide, gravity takes over. This tray holds everything in place no matter what.”

Many of the 37-year-old’s products are made of silicone, chosen for its smooth texture and indestructibility. But Finell also favors crystal, birch, walnut, quartz and the synthetic paper she shows off in an origami decor line. Misfold—a 72-inch-long cascade of white angular pieces—comes folded in a little black box and can be hung vertically, horizontally, or en masse for dramatic effect as art or as a screen. Speaking of visual impact, her latest creation, Spire, is a fierce and fun torpedo-shaped hook that becomes an artistic or functional focal point, whether mounted singly or in a large group. It’s also a product that designer Finell “just thought needed to exist.” And, like all of her creations, it’s where form and function converge beautifully.