American Design Hot List 2022
New York, episode.nyc
If you visit the website of Episode, a ceramic lighting brand designed and created by Jesse Shaw, you might not understand what the fuss is about — his core production collection comprises simple lamps in solid-colored shapes with textile shades, no big deal. But where Shaw really shines is in his specialty work with clients and collaborators, which lives over on his Instagram: limited-edition sculptural lamps designed with Friends of Form and Post Company, espresso cups and color-blocked butter holders, or the series of painterly table lamps that introduced us to his work in the first place. It’s genuinely exciting to see what he’ll post next.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
American design is kind of a free-for-all, in a good way. The mix of cultures that we are lends people the chance to appreciate whatever style or era they want. Living and working in New York City can be a bubble at times, so disconnected from other parts of the country, while also being one of the most diverse connected places in the world. This is inspiring — to live in such a global city — but it’s still only one of the many versions of this country and the design world in it. I didn’t finish school and spent the last eight years exploring who and what I’m drawn to and why. In that time, and from this one place, I’ve been able to work on a range of different projects all over the country, in all types of spaces, from the rural west to beach towns to mountain homes. Maybe that spectrum of opportunity is what American design is.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I recently released some new collaborations with a few designers and also have a hotel project that I’m in the middle of. I’m most looking forward to working on a new group of pieces that involve lighting, but aren’t quite lamps: sculptures that are connected by light that play with the negative space between them. I’ve yet to have a solo show, but am happy to have waited to let my work develop to where it is. I’m hoping to soon have the opportunity to install a spread of work built specifically for a space, and to explore the use of the environment they’re displayed in.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
I’ve always been attracted to how balancing organic and manufactured elements enhance each other. The majority of the pieces from last year point toward this; they’re hand- and wheel-built angled forms, colored somewhat messily, embracing imperfections in how they warp or spill over. I like simple shapes and good proportions. I’m happy to make something that’s not so minimal, finding a lot of interest in the effects of color and how it can influence emotion. Thinking of ceramic objects as pieces that celebrate a sense of unpredictability and chance.