Next week, Whitewall‘s summer 2017 design issue is out, boasting a cover from featured design duo Studio Job. For the issue, we spoke to some of the biggest names in design and architecture. What we discovered at studio visits, over coffee on trips to New York, between events during Salone del Mobile in Milan, and even (in the case of Patricia Urquiola) on the phone on the way to the airport, was how these path makers got to the top of their fields. They’ve managed to build a new space for their way of thinking, forming the future of the design world and forging a new understanding of what it means to make.
Our cover artists, Studio Job (made up of Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel) have arguably rocketed to their own planet. Their world is defined by pop imagery, a mix of high and low material, and genre-bending objects that at times pose no practical function. As they told us, their goal is to be the least a designer as possible, while being as much of an artist as possible.
Another duo, Studio Drift, made up of Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, would like to do away completely with the art-versus-design conversation. It doesn’t serve their practice, which has produced things like a sculpture of light-emitting dandelions, kinetic floating chandeliers, a gravity-defying rotating block of concrete, and, recently, experimental forays into augmented reality.
Konstantin Grcic is more of a purist when it comes to design. His Chair One for Magis has been populating public outdoor spaces for years. With more than 25 years of experience in his field, he’s seen the trade change drastically from analog to digital. Lately, he’s focused his practice on getting back to what is pure and essential, relying on the expertise, resources, and rigorous research some have taken for granted or overlooked.
Over the winter we flew south to Miami to have lunch with Jean Nouvel and hear about his dreamy, greeny Monad Terrace plans. Nouvel is a consummate humanist, who sees architecture as a gift—if it doesn’t offer pleasure, it’s a failure. And while Urquiola made her way to JFK after a whirlwind post-Salone few days in New York, we heard about her vision for Cassina as it celebrates its 90th year making furniture and accessories. Acting as creative director is relatively new for Urquiola, and she’s ready to redefine the role and solidify the historic Italian manufacturer’s position in the 21st century.
Teresita Fernández walked us through her recent exhibition at Lehmann Maupin on the Lower East Side, which challenged traditional concepts of landscape. She asks you to inquire, what’s been erased here? What histories have been suppressed? And why?
Finally, we sat down with Jeff Koons in his sprawling Chelsea studio to discuss his blockbuster collaboration with Louis Vuitton, “Masters.” Our conversation extended far beyond bags and into the metaphysical, as Koons is wont to do. He even shared how he wants to feel on his deathbed, and the power of art to morph our genes.
Check out the issue online before it hits stores next month.