Design

Designer of the Day: David Wiseman

The California native on designing a bench for a deer, his first L.A. show, and Halloween, his live-in studio cat.

The California native on designing a bench for a deer, his first L.A. show, and Halloween, his live-in studio cat.

Here, we ask a designer to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.

Age: 35

Occupation: Designer

Hometown: Pasadena, California

Studio location: Los Angeles

Describe what you make: I makes sculpture, site-specific installations, furniture, lighting, and objects—most of which are inspired by nature and its variety of forms, patterns, and shapes.

The most important thing you’ve designed to date: A bench designed for a deer. I made it in response to an assignment at RISD fourteen years ago. The piece allowed me to break through the structures of conventional furniture-making and think more openly about what design could be: a means of capturing a poetic idea through the well-crafted and sensitive treatment of a given medium.

The problem your work solves: I often try to combine beauty and timelessness with functionality. I am conscious of the grand traditions of the decorative arts as well as my place here and now. Too often interiors can seem devoid of nature, narrative, meaning, and a human touch. My work strives to imbue objects and installations with my sense of wonder and awe for the natural world, as well as the beauty of the materials I work with.

What you are working on now: Earlier this fall I completed a presentation that featured fourteen years of work in a studio space I recently acquired. With my partner and brother, Ari Wiseman, we installed a range of work in a very raw warehouse building, prior to commencing renovations. It was a tremendous opportunity to see the range and cohesiveness of the past decade and to share it with friends and family in Los Angeles, where I had not shown my work before until now.

A new or forthcoming project we should know about: We are completing plans for a new studio space in the Frogtown neighborhood of Los Angeles, which I expect to move into next fall. Situated around the L.A. River with views of Elysian Park, the studio will be a site of both production and presentation. We are also incorporating three distinct gardens with a number of plant specimens I have used in my work—including cork oaks, magnolias, cherry trees, and a variety of succulents, which will help to create a space of nature and creation. I am also excited to open the space to the students in the community to share the power and potential of design.

What you absolutely have to have in your studio: Delicious Oaxacan lunches, cooked by our friend Lucy, and Halloween, our friendly studio cat.

What you do when you’re not working: Walk in the Southern California wilderness with my dog.

Sources of creative envy: Nature, Josef Hoffmann, Dagobert Peche, William Morris, Rajasthani architecture, Japanese textiles, Tony Duquette, Les Lalannes, and the artist and illustrator Micah Lidberg.

The distraction you want to eliminate: iPhones in the studio.

Concrete or Marble? Marble.

High-rise or Townhouse? Townhouse.

Aliens or Ghosts? Ghosts.

Remember or Forget? Remember.

Dark or Light? Light.

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