American Design Hot List 2023
New York, cultivationobjects.com
Cultivation Objects’ Nathaniel Wojtalik was born in Colorado, went to art school, and bopped around New York designing sets and store displays before settling down in 2020 to found his Brooklyn-based studio. Not content to simply build a chair — as he put it, he “had a guilt attached to creating furniture that didn’t embody an element of mindfulness” — he began assembling pieces from prototypes and off-cuts found around his studio that provoked a reaction, forcing the sitter to stay open to new ways of interaction. “There are a million beautiful chairs out there that are perfectly functional and easy on the eyes,” says Wojtalik. “But if I was going to make something, I wanted the process and act of making it to be as compelling as the final object.”
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
I would compare it to a murmuration of starlings, thousands of birds flying together in an ever-evolving pattern. Each individual exists so close to the edge, that they can fearlessly pivot, tumble, and whirl within a split second, every one independent yet somehow connected by the constantly flowing entropy we all somehow manage to navigate.
It’s a rolling cloud of life. Half of which can be explained by physics, while the other half remains a mystery.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I have a new body of work that I have been working on using new materials, forms, and ideas. I am a curious person by nature, so I’m always trying to incorporate new methods and materials into the works.
In the past I have created hard aesthetic breaks from one series to another, but I have found that I am not yet ready to move on completely from some of these ideas so I am going to keep producing things in parallel and allow the concepts to converge if they want to.
There are also a few collaborations that I am excited to see come to fruition.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
This is constantly changing, but I think the work relies on a structure of feeling, a vicarious recording of thought and experience. The structure, a firm and definitive framework, acts as a kind of vessel for something more sensitive.
My newest series incorporates rigid and industrial looking materials but then they are paired with hand-sculpted, soft undulating forms and imprints derived from the natural world.
I have had a few people visit the studio recently and out of the corner of my eye, I notice they can’t help but quietly run their fingers over the sculpted curves. That made me really happy. I make every piece and inject a lot of energy and thought into the contours and shapes. The path they traced with their fingers was a line I placed with intention and our maps were connected for a brief moment. I think that’s beautiful.