It was a crazy idea: When Denverites Dustin and Kim Nyhus found out they were expecting twins, the couple decided Dustin should quit his demanding job as an industrial designer so they could launch a new business. In 2011, they founded DENY Designs, a Web-based store selling home accessories that double as art. Customers select images from hundreds of artists’ work, and the images are then dye-printed on everyday products: shower curtains, throw pillows, duvet covers, and more. In May, the company took another leap, this time to a storefront in LoDo, where devotees can see DENY’s bold, bright designs in person.
5280 Home: How do you select the artwork that appears on your products?
Kim: We have 7,000 pieces of art [made by 147 artists who collaborate with DENY]. On a monthly basis, we get a few hundred submissions from artists who want to be part of the DENY artist gallery; out of those, we select a handful. We are trying to curate the selection: A human eye sees every piece of art that comes onto our site.
You make all of your products on demand. Isn’t that a logistical nightmare?
Kim: By doing everything on demand, we have the ability to offer the customer so many more pieces of art. If you go to a big retailer, you might have 20 designs. Here, you can really pick a representation of who you are—and it will be completely different from anything anyone else will have.
Why did you decide to open a showroom?
Kim: We have a lot of Denver customers, so now they can come down and feel the pillows, see how we mix and match five different artists’ work on a bed. There is something powerful about seeing our products in person.
What types of new products will you be debuting this year?
Dustin: We are going to be doing some larger hard goods, such as desks and entertainment centers. We also want to work with industrial designers and craftsmen—just like we’re working with artists—to create some unique pieces. Those pieces may not have artwork on them, but they will be artwork themselves.
Deny Designs Coolest Summer Swag
Ali Gulec’s “Llama Van” Rectangular Decorative Tray, $55. “Doesn’t this just scream fun? I mean, it’s a llama! In a van! In the wilderness!”
Holli Zollinger’s “Paris Map Pink” Shower Curtain, $89. “Dustin and I are going to Paris this summer, so I’ve got this amazing city on my mind. Warm weather, cafes, museums, and champagne—now what can be better than that?”
Garima Dahwan’s “Rain 6” Throw Pillow, $35–$69. “This pillow just exudes color and happiness. I have [the design] as a shower curtain in my house!”
Shannon Clark’s “Swinging Through Stars” BlingBox, $399. “Remember going to theme parks during the summer as a kid? This image takes me back.”
Robert Farkas’ “Sunny Leo” Coaster Set, $15. “The sun’s out and it’s finally, finally warm! That brings big ol’ smiles to our faces, as does the thought of the cocktail that goes along with these coasters at happy hour.”