Favorite Things

Traditional and Modern

Embracing a dual aesthetic guides product designer Carol Gregg’s sustainable furniture business — and lifestyle

By Tracy Bulla

In 1997, Carol Gregg — founder, owner and “Chief Hen” of Red Egg —was inspired to create a business importing Asian antiques and vintage designs during a trip to Hong Kong. Eventually, the brand evolved to manufacturing recreations of Asian furniture and accessories with a signature twist: classic Asian designs lacquered in bold, fun colors for timeless, yet modern appeal. In 2004, Gregg relocated Red Egg to North Carolina, where she and her showroom are housed in an historic Victorian in downtown High Point. At this point, she also began shifting manufacturing from Asia locally. With the exception of handcrafted rattan furniture from the Philippines, all of her wood designs are bench-made by local craftspeople. We sat down with the designer at her showroom to chat about trends, inspiration and her passion for vintage design and textiles, among other things.

What design trend inspires you?

The trend I’m most excited about right now is sustainability in design. Pushing the envelope to make a more beautiful, useful and sustainable product, from material selections and production techniques, to life cycle consideration, is an important challenge for every product designer. Red Egg’s mission is to sustainably craft heirloom pieces that bring you joy. We want you to love our pieces so much that they move with you on your journey.

What is your personal style?

I like a collected look. I own things I love that I enjoy using and looking at. It’s always a work in progress at home though, as I am constantly putting pieces together in new ways to make it feel fresh.

Red Egg is known for its beautiful and colorful finishes. What colors are you gravitating towards right now?

Soft whites, indigo and natural wood finishes are what I am drawn to at the moment. I love the natural beauty of wood and rattan, and how the unique shapes of our pieces shine through when left natural or finished in white. Indigo is a timeless favorite in my book.

What is your favorite design in your current collection?

I love our Shanghai Loft Dragon Tattoo Bench in Sepia. I love this sepia-tone piece because it is a quieter version of our colorful Dragon Tattoo Table, but still makes a statement. It’s versatile and can be used as a drinks table or a bench at a dining table. The Dragon Tattoo pattern references a painting on the ceiling of an ancient temple but uses modern technology to apply it directly to the wood on our bench.

We’ve heard through the grapevine that you are a consummate hostess. What’s your secret for a successful soiree?

I like intimate dinner parties, say eight to 10 people. I like to invite friends who don’t all know each other well. A small group gives everyone a chance to connect. I love having a little theme in mind, choosing a seasonal menu and complementing with cocktails, dessert and music.

Speaking of cocktails, what’s your signature tipple?

A Negroni — I love the bitter flavor and festive color.

Recipe, please!

Equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth and Botanist Gin with a dash of orange bitters and a thin orange slice.

Can you share any special tips for creating a stylish and convivial tablescape?

Fresh greens and votive candles are my go-to for the table. I have a magnolia tree in the yard that can always use a little pruning and makes for a stunning organic centerpiece. I like a casual look when I set the table. My special glassware is a collection of vintage state glasses. I don’t have every state, but I try to match up the guest with their state if I can. These glasses always spark a conversation about a road trip.

When you’re not cooking for friends, where do you head for a bite to eat in the furniture capital?

Blue Water Grille. Their food is consistently delicious and what’s not to like about their Dirty Blue Martini?!

Favorite guilty pleasure?

Talenti Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. Positively decadent!

What’s your idea of a perfect Saturday afternoon?

I recently had the pleasure of spending a Saturday afternoon touring artist studios in Chapel Hill and Hillsborough — it was such a treat! I also love spending a rainy Saturday afternoon in my kitchen making soup.

What are you bingeing on Nextflix now?

The Great British Baking Show. I adore the mix of creative and technical challenges. Plus, it’s always good for lots of laughs.

What is your best-ever shopping find?

Navaho necklace made from turquoise beads.Isolated on white.More turquoise:

A rustic strand of Chinese turquoise beads found in an antique stall at the Cat Street Market in Hong Kong. It’s rough and heavy and when I wear it, I am transported back to the colors and scents of that experience.

When you’re not traveling the globe, where do you shop locally? 

The Red Collection and Design Archives in Greensboro. It’s always a treasure hunt! My bedroom lamps are a pair of painted glass 1950s genie lamps from Red Collection, and I scored a gorgeous 1960s orange and fuchsia silk tunic at Design Archives.

 Favorite country to visit?

Japan. I love the extremes of design and culture. The way the Japanese revere traditional craft in places like Kawashima Textile School in Kyoto and at the same time embrace cutting-edge design in fashion and architecture in cities like Tokyo.

 What destination is on your bucket list?

India — it’s all about textiles, textiles and more textiles! 

Silk scarves from India in a marketplace.

www.redegg.com www.redegg.com www.redegg.com www.redegg.com

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