Designer Discourse | Dan McFadden of Past Basket Design

"Kitchens Designed from Scratch" is the now tagline at Past Basket Design, a Geneva, Illinois-based firm that began as an antique and American-folk art retailer in 1976. Within the same decade, the business evolved to include cabinetry, and mechanical engineer Dave McFadden hand-crafted idyllic backdrops for the store’s antique treasures.

Today, Dave McFadden and his son, Senior Designer Dan McFadden, pride themselves on creating rooms of exceptional beauty that are functional, social, and unique to the clients lifestyle. “When I created the company, kitchens were not designed like furniture. One of our first kitchens incorporated architectural elements from old buildings – window headers and porch columns – this was considered revolutionary at the time. We continue to incorporate details from beautifully crafted furniture into our design aesthetic.”

This month’s Designer Discourse survey was answered by Past Basket’s Dan McFadden.

Dan McFadden

Dan McFadden

What geographies or environments have had the most influence on your creative approach?
My clients are really the driving force in terms of influencing the design direction.

What is your favorite well-known building?
I don’t think I can say there is a favorite. Off the top of my head -- I was just in Union Station in Chicago and I stopped, stared and took in the Great Hall. It is very uplifting to me. I also really like the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe. I like light!

What is your least favorite well-known building?
(It used to be my favorite building.) Wrigley Field – I’m a recovering Cubs fan! Go Sox.

What band or artist is currently in regular rotation on your iPod?
I just skip around the library. Stuff I grew up with, like Elvis Costello, The Replacements, Rolling Stones. I really like folk rock of John Prine and James McMurtry and I like a lot of more current music like Arcade Fire and Ray Lamontagne.

What design trend turns you on?
Minimal, small spaces with purpose.

What design trend turns you off?
Homogenized product design: everyone copying the originating talented designer or artisan, reproducing for less and mass marketing. That is a shame.

What color and design palettes do you love?
I like color. For example, our stores carry a line of artisan made ceramics by Liz Kinder Ceramics.

What color and design palettes do you hate?
I’m not really a “favorite” or “least favorite” color type of person. I tend to like all colors palettes that work together.

Of the projects you’ve worked on so far in 2013, which are you most proud of?
Well, it’s only February but, speaking of color -- or lack of it -- we’re working on a project on the Gulf in Florida that is my kind of FL house. No shells or coral or teal. Shades of off white, wood cabinets stained grey, zinc, concrete and glass counters and stainless and bronze accents. I love it. We also finished up one locally here in the Chicago area that has a similar vibe. A real integrity in the materials and subtle design elements.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Rephrase to “wish” I could attempt and it would be pro triathlete