American Design Hot List 2014
St. Petersburg, Florida, damm-design.com
DAMM is a lighting studio founded by husband-and-wife team Robert and Brenda Zurn.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
A defining feature of America is the ability to reinvent yourself. What gives us that ability is looking at our world through the lens of possibility instead of the lens of tradition. America is focused on what the future holds. American design has this same open-hearted spirit that finds fulfillment in exploring what is possible. We’re excited to explore the resurgence in small-scale design and manufacturing that has purposely turned away from cheap homogenous consumerism. We feel like it’s the second coming of the Arts and Crafts movement, but instead of rebelling against the barbarism of the Industrial revolution, this new movement is rebelling against corporatism, which has razed the aesthetics and quality of the objects we live with. What’s even more exciting is the idea that the original Arts and Crafts movement changed the world so profoundly, ushered in Modernism, and laid the foundations for design bastions like the Bauhaus. It’s inspiring to think that this movement is building foundations for a new American design perspective that will have far-reaching implications.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
We’re continuing to work with local artisans, learning more about materials and playing with the boundaries and limitations of materials. We’re adding floor lamps, as well as some more sculptural table lamps which we hope to show in Miami this winter, as well as in New York in the spring. We’re also working on a new line of home goods.
What inspires your work in general?
Most of the objects that we surround ourselves with are solid and well-made, because they’re from a time when that’s just how things were done. The texture, weight, and visual appeal of the objects in our life influences the way we design. DAMM is highly interested in art, and the conceptual implications of art raised by Dada and all artists who trace their DNA to it. We feel strongly that design is distinct from art and the line between them is an important one, but knowing where it is and why it’s important are matters that we can only understand through exposition that is marked with uncertainty, curiosity, and relentless exploration. As Eileen Gray said, “To create, one must first question everything.”