American Design Hot List 2014
Los Angeles, aqqdesign.com
AQQ — an acronym for the Latin phrase Al Que Quiere, meaning “for he who wants it” — is a postmodern furniture collective helmed by Matthew Sullivan.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
Aesthetically and instinctually, I’m probably more inclined towards non-American design (whether European, Middle Eastern, or North African). American versions come second, though obviously knock-offs — or, more kindly, descendants — are equally engaging/valuable. And of course, the U.S. shouldn’t be singled out in this regard, as there are no “originals” anywhere on this globe. Perhaps things are not that stimulating when used as intended and certainly things are always fatuous/specious when done with some sort of purity in mind. I didn’t grow up in Europe so I know there’s a little faulty exoticism being enacted on my end. Maybe it wouldn’t be wrong (and hopefully not obnoxious) to say that American design is still in some sort of Oedipal relationship with Europe. I do appreciate the sense — particularly in day-to-day Los Angeles, which consequently is in the U.S. — that no one cares what you’re doing. Quotidian anonymity is possible. I very much like that.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
AQQ is working on reorganizing “the material” into separate collections and subsequently fleshing each zone out (adding pieces) to fully realize what is being said within. I am also: Working on a collection of vessels under the title Time Wave Zero, in which all of the pieces are either ad-hoc or completely made from existing/found materials. Writing a few essays, primarily one titled Anti-Apex, about a turn in art/design in which (possibly) presumptuous meta-themes, classical symmetries and/or utopian futures are replaced with specific and non-homogeneously expressed structures. Designing and compiling a catalogue raisonné website (with Folkert Gorter, founder of Cargo Collective and Space Collective) for the deceased designer and artist Dan Friedman, out sometime in the fall/winter.
I’m excited that Maurizio Cattelan’s magazine Toilet Paper is using a few AQQ pieces for their Fall 2014 Kenzo collaboration/campaign. Kenzo has a good history of positive bastardization and recombination. Thank you Andrew Ondrejcak. As well, will be trying to do my voluntary part in staying alive… But involuntarily who knows…
What inspires/informs your work in general?
I mainly pull from sources not particularly design-related. I don’t say this at all to be atypical or polemical; I have very sincere reasons for this. When I engage the design world directly (that is, capital “D” design) I don’t find much overlap with those who are speaking or making. Furniture is a pleasurable point of contact for me — that is, it is an activity to entangle or test certain ideas (materially). “Making contact” with a particular medium is extremely valuable, as one discovers that all mediums have their own physics and semiologies. It is my experience that if one squares their shoulders towards a particular object — and does so bringing to bear all of their sensitivity, education, and genuineness — a new hermeneutic of that object (a new meaning and “thing”) can be born. This way of going about design is not out of nowhere; there are precedents. Sottsass, for one, is a good example, as it seemed that furniture was just a way, among others, to engage history, futurity, eros, presence, psychedelicism, magic, or what have you. Simply, I guess, I’m involved with, and perhaps promoting, the attitude that one should be wrestling with being something like a changing configuration in a morphing landscape first, and a vocation second.