Design can clarify the complex, disrupt the predetermined, and beautify the banal. Lucky for us that we are in the midst of a revolution in which design—in all its shapes and forms—impacts every aspect of our lives, from the places we live and the ways we work, to the food we consume and the objects we covet.
This issue of Surface, the Art Issue, and my first as editor in chief, provides a journey of discovery. We bring you into the lives, minds, and studios of a group of innovators challenging the ways we think about design.
Some work precisely within their own craft; others mine assorted disciplines and media. Our cover subject, Kahlil Joseph, is questioning representations of black life through an ongoing work, BLKNWS, a two-channel video that imagines a cable news network powered by a culturally and politically engaged black sensibility. BLKNWS was conceived as a real-life news show and draws from archival and newly-shot footage, music videos, memes and clips—the stuff of our media-saturated lives.
We introduce you to other disruptors like Figs, a company transforming the most banal of uniforms—hospital scrubs—to suggest that they needn’t be as sterile as the environments in which they are found. Just look at the way Surface imagines they might be worn. We travel to Mérida, Chile, and Cape Town. In China, Li Xiang is making bookstores that transport us to other worlds. In Tokyo, we take you into the laboratory of floral alchemist Makoto Azuma, who transfigures the natural into the supranatural.
We also meet the designer’s designers, like Maison Tamboite, the artisanal Parisian shop peddling bespoke bikes, and artisans like Devon Turnbull, who handcrafts custom speakers for the likes of Virgil Abloh and Supreme. There are intimate glimpses of private spaces and studios. The design gallerist Suzanne Demisch invites her friend artist Sheila Hicks to her home for a private tour; the artist Nicolas Party takes us inside his Brooklyn studio, where he channels art history through surreal, brilliantly hued still lifes, portraits and landscapes.
As you roam these pages, we hope that you also notice that Surface is expanding its global outlook, reaching even further afield. Along with bolder imagery, we’re taking a closer look at the crossover of creative fields and the visionaries who make us look anew at design. We hope you’ll join us for the journey.
Diane Solway, Editor in Chief