American Design Hot List 2014
New York, annakarlin.com
British expat Anna Karlin — known for marrying design and craft — is about to launch a highly anticipated sophomore collection.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
It feels to me right now that American design and designers are having a huge resurgence of energy and output. Being British, I see it slightly from an outside point of view. I see the freedom to break rules, which is exciting — this is a HUGE country with a diverse taste range. I feel like people aren’t bound by the canons of history and are excited to put their ideas out there. It’s also become clear to me how much each geographic area of America leans toward a different aesthetic. When you say an object has an L.A. rather Brooklyn vibe, people immediately know what you’re talking about. The same can’t be said for a Manchester vs. Birmingham! People just wouldn’t know what you were talking about.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
This year gives me butterflies in my stomach, in a good way! We’re launching our new collection, which will encompass everything from pendant lights and chandeliers to ceramics, chairs, soft furniture, and tabletop. I’m off to Mexico this month to be a keynote speaker at Mexico Design Week, and we’re also launching a range of accessories in Japan.
On the other side of the business, we’ve got some great art direction and set design projects coming up, including a really interesting exhibition that looks at technology and fashion. We also have all sorts of interiors, digital, and branding projects in the works. It feels like people are really getting into the swing of what we do, and instead of being scared and confused by the breadth of our work, they see it as a wonderful and exciting crossover whose elements all serve to compliment one another.
What inspires your work in general?
I work in such a wide variety of mediums and on so many different types of projects at a time — my head bounces around from digital to designing a table to thinking about a giant set installation. I’m most often to be found with several notebooks, scraps of paper, and Illustrator files open, and I work by crossing back and forth. It’s great. A flat shape you were working on for a graphics project informs your eye so that when, two seconds later, you’re considering the proportions of a handblown glass piece, it guides you in the right direction. Aesthetics across mediums are one and the same to me. It doesn’t matter if it’s a graphic piece or a pot, I still have to have a point of view and know what works. It can also give me a nudge to introduce a disruptive element I wouldn’t have thought of if I solely restricted myself to one discipline. So I would say working itself is my main source of inspiration — constantly trying things and seeing where I can push myself or where I might just happen to end up.