American Design Hot List 2021
Los Angeles, bennetschlesinger.com
Bennet Schlesinger’s lights tend to follow the same formula — a roughly textured ceramic base paired with a delicate but rigid shade, made from a latticework of bamboo strips and a hardened archival paper shell. But within that framework, Schlesinger experiments endlessly, using different clays, glazes, patterns in the bamboo, and forms, from a base that’s more like a small catchall to a bulging monolith. His new amber lights are being shown at Stanley’s in Los Angeles this month.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
I’m not entirely sure how to pin down or describe American design as a whole. I imagine design in its most pervasive cultural force would be in product and packaging design. These can be subtle and unilaterally experienced by all Americans, and I find this type of democratic visual output the most interesting. When looking through a grocery store it can be easily seen that there is a cultural language at play. This can be exciting to notice and hone into.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I’m excited to work on some major large-scale pendant lights and to keep pushing present ideas I’m working through. Because of the time consuming nature of my work, its visual narrative will take a few more years to congeal. My main commitment is to maintaining a natural feel and subtle quiet expression.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
My work is most influenced by the nature of the material used: clay and its chemical geological transformation, paper and wood reed and its nuanced shift based on daily/hourly atmosphere changes. I find these shifts to be really interesting. Additionally I try to spend time with nature: in the ocean, looking out the window, noticing its pace, and hoping to align myself closer and closer to it over time.