Christopher Stuart

Carmel, Indiana,
A solo show at The Future Perfect earlier this year revealed what many already suspected: That the heart of an artist beat inside this inveterate industrial designer from Indiana.

What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
One answer that others have likely given in past years is that American design is about a pioneering spirit. We don’t have a long history of design that establishes a known aesthetic; as a result, we are free to explore. We are free to take chances. It’s about creating something first, then building an audience for it. It’s exciting to be part of this growing resurgence.

What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I recently showed my new Constructs and Glitches collection with The Future Perfect at Design Miami. It was their first year exhibiting as a gallery, and I was honored to be showing my work. It’s incredibly exciting and a bit unreal for me. As I was cutting my teeth as a designer, both The Future Perfect and Design Miami were life goals. My show with TFP earlier this year was one dream come true. Now this! I’m blown away, and admittedly pretty anxious. I also showed a piece commissioned by Cadillac and Wallpaper Magazine during that same time. The entire idea was based on veneer — something I’ve wanted to explore as Indiana is the veneer capital of the world.

Outside of that, I’m beginning to work out several ideas I have. I’m currently obsessed with Glitches at a more monumental scale, and have been creating renderings of them. I hope to see them realized one day. I’m simultaneously thinking about technology and conversely more evidence of the hand with these other ideas. I don’t have any venues lined up for those, but I need to see them realized.

What inspires or informs your work in general?
Formally, I’d say concept, form, material, process, scale, context, systems; the list goes on. Artistic expression is becoming more and more important to me. I’m becoming less concerned with the practical function of a piece and more interested in self-expression. Emotion is the main function that I’m after.

I don’t live in a major design city, and most of my fabricators are in rural areas in the Midwest. As a result, little things on my drive catch my attention like concrete corner posts for barbed wire fences marking the edge of farms. Fortunately, social media has been a great way to see what peers are doing. I’m inspired by others who are taking chances and doing things just because. Even from Indiana, I’m able to connect with a growing community of designers, artists, fabricators, curators, and gallerists. Knowing there are platforms for this type of work is inspiring.

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