Here, we ask designers to take a selfie and give us an inside look at their life.
Occupation: Designer of interiors, furniture, and lighting.
Hometown: St. Joseph, MI.
Studio location: Sometimes Florence, other times New York.
Describe what you make: With Soft Witness, my aim is to create pieces that prompt some kind of emotional response in their viewers. Each object is made in meticulous collaboration with a team of local artisans in Italy who I lived and worked alongside during the fabrication process. Although the design of each piece is intimately personal, the series ultimately feels familiar and entirely open to interpretation. The aesthetic is a kind of avant-garde creature comfort.
The most important thing you’ve designed to date: There’s a piece in this debut series from Soft Witness dubbed the Patty Sconce that carries great meaning for me as it’s named after my mother. The shape is inspired by that of an Etruscan hairpin, with a form that’s deceivingly simple and difficult to execute—multiple glass blowers told me it couldn’t be achieved. In the end, this was extra fitting to its meaning as my mother was as elegant as she was challenging.
Describe the problem your work solves: This series is less about solving problems and more about questioning and reflecting on my own personal experiences. Exploring human nature and the way we live alongside our things is a concept I find myself tied to. Just as an author can make a reader feel less alone, I hope as a designer I’m able to articulate objects that can serve as storied characters in the interiors of people’s lives.
Describe the project you are working on now: After working as an interior designer in New York, San Francisco, and Florence for the last 12 years, the launch of Soft Witness is a major emotional milestone. The line’s debut opened this week and will be on view at Objective Gallery through December 15.
A new or forthcoming project we should know about: This debut from Soft Witness is an amalgamation of form, feeling, and function. It consists of a seating series called Liberamente (the Italian word for freely, or free mind), a lighting series made from hand-blown Murano glass named Patty, after my late mother, a series of tables constructed from hand-cast glass and brass named Joan, and an abstract wall sculpture, Soul, that’s as reflective as it is contemplative. As an interior designer, it felt natural to present a collection that creates a full room of pieces—I couldn’t help but visualize how they’d mix and relate to one another in a shared space.
What you absolutely must have in your studio: I’m highly mobile so my studio takes many forms depending where I am. My essentials are coffee (if in Italy, it’s cappuccini all day, despite the unspoken Italian rule that they’re only for the morning), sketchbooks of many sizes, an evolving mood-dependent playlist (my genre preferences are all over the place), and natural light.
What you do when you’re not working: I wander. I take long walks, browse antique stores, people watch, breathe fresh air, admire gardens, and forget about time in art museums. I always feel refreshed and inspired after a destination-less walk. I’m also a big fan of vinyasa yoga, poetry books, memoirs, live music, and experimenting with various art mediums. Most rewarding of all, quality time with family and friends. Oh, and I absolutely love to dance.
Sources of creative envy: Jack White. Beyond him being an incredible musician, his career has crossed disciplines, evolved, experimented, and never missed a detail. Before his music career took off, he had an upholstery shop where he wrote poetry on the frames of sofas before reupholstering them. What a beautiful and subtle way to pass art on to another person. He has no comparison—from the music he makes to the projects he’s a part of, his creative output is pure electricity, and it’s raw in the best way.
The distraction you want to eliminate: I’m not sure there is one. As frustrating as some things may be, there’s usually a lesson to be learned, even if it’s just patience.
Concrete or marble? Marble.
High-rise or townhouse? Townhouse.
Remember or forget? Remember.
Aliens or ghosts? Ghosts.
Dark or light? Both, for contrast.