For this instalment of the Kvadrat Design Projects, the textile in play is Canvas, which is in some ways the perfect metaphor: select a group of designers and give them a blank canvas to infill with creativity.
The goal is to take an upholstery textile – albeit a very nice one – which is normally used to cover furniture, and see how talented designers respond to it as a purely creative element, unconstrained by traditional application and functionality.
The US designers I have selected for this year’s project represent the vast scale of the country, and the diversity of backgrounds that make it up: one designer from the West Coast, another one from the centre of the country, then a duo from the East Coast, and a fourth living abroad in Europe. These designers also reflect how culture can and often does reach across national borders, since each of them has some sort of significant international perspective.
In the US and beyond, society is unquestionably in a time of flux. The rules are that there are no rules, and in design there is no one right career path. From industrial production to handicraft, designers’ practices take in a broad swathe of approaches, materials and points of view.
Mimi Jung was born in Korea and lives in LA. She is a creative who participates mostly in the world of editions with a language that is often delicate, subtle and light.
Jonathan Muecke grew up in Wyoming, worked in Switzerland, and now operates from Minnesota, where his practice spans design, art and architecture. His work has presence and poise, striking a cultural resonance on a human scale.
New York City-based Chen Chen & Kai Williams run a multidisciplinary studio, Chen Chen hails from China while Kai Williams is a New Yorker. Their work proceeds from an experimental point of view and embraces diverse materials, processes and categories.
Max Lipsey grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, but completed his education at the Design Academy Eindhoven in The Netherlands, where he decided to stay. Max’s work is very much driven by a hands-on approach, informed by material and fabrication processes.
In these occasionally chaotic times, we look to people who can lead culture to make sense of competing points of view, and show us a way – or ways – forward. The My Canvas project, as a whole, displays kaleidoscopic creativity, reflecting the diversity of the group based on cultural vision. It is a testament to what happens when you present talent with a provocative opportunity, a blank canvas.
Jeffrey Bernett was born in Illinois and studied design at Parnham College in the United Kingdom, before founding the design firm CDS in New York in 1995. He presented CDS’s first collection, Ideas for Production, at the 1996 International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City, and was awarded the top honour, the Editor’s Award for Best of Show. Since then, the firm has gone on to win a number of awards and prizes, with work spanning several disciplines: residential and office furniture, household products, lighting, industrial packaging, transportation design, communication and graphic design, and interior architecture. Bernett has worked with a range of furniture brands, including B&B Italia, Boffi, Cappellini and Ligne Roset. Other clients include BMW, Boeing, Condé Nast, Mercedes Benz, Michael Kors and Northwest Airlines/Delta.