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 founded the New York-based firm CDS in 1995. It presented its first collection, Ideas for Production, at the 1996 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City, and was awarded the top honour, the Editor’s Award for ‘Best of Show’. Since then, CDS’s work has spanned disciplines: residential and office furniture, household products, lighting, industrial packaging, cosmetics/ bottle design, transportation design, communication and graphic design, environment and interior architecture.
Bernett was the first American to work with several of Europe’s best-regarded manufacturers, including B&B Italia, Boffi, Cappellini and Ligne Roset. CDS’s further clients also include BMW, Boeing, Condé Nast, Dupont/Corian, Design Within Reach, Herman Miller, Knoll, Kvadrat, Mercedes Benz, Michael Kors and Northwest Airlines/Delta. Holding numerous patents, CDS has also won many prestigious international design awards.
Fundamentally, CDS works from cultural observation, questioning givens and existing paradigms, and spotting the best opportunities for intervention. On this basis, CDS develops strategic business initiatives to solve human and industrial problems, instigating, provoking change and helping clients move forward significantly and meaningfully.
CDS believes that the best solutions emerge from equal parts humanity, intellect and creativity.