American Design Hot List 2020
We usually wait a year or two before we put new designers on this list, but when we discovered Maryam Turkey’s recent furniture while checking in on past participants of the Object Permanence exhibition series, we knew she was a must-have. In just three years since graduating from Pratt — and 11 since her family came to the U.S. as Iraqi refugees — she’s developed a body of sophisticated sculptural work that blends her design education with her background as a painter.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
American design is about storytelling. Whether telling a story through a material process, form, aesthetic, production methods, or color, stories are what make each designer unique. What excites me about American design is that I can celebrate my true self and express that through my work. I have the advantage of gaining inspiration and seeing things from more than one perspective, since I lived half my life in Iraq and the other half in the USA. My aim is to contribute to the design community a unique taste and to keep telling stories through my work as I experience them.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I’m currently an artist in residence at Silver Arts Projects at the World Trade Center, where I’m working on a series of sculptural paintings as an extension of my Oikos stools that were launched during the Inside Out show in late October. I’m excited to announce my collaboration with EQ3 to launch my Uphold collection in stores by 2021. I’m also working on a piece for a show about Beirut called “Colors of Lebanon.” The show will go live virtually in early December, and all the proceeds will fund disaster relief efforts in Beirut following the August 4th explosion.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
I tend to jump between multiple projects as I’m inspired by many things, including current events, happy accidents with materials in the studio, and returning from trips full of fresh ideas. The past two years I’ve been particularly inspired by materials and textures. I combine multiple ingredients to make my own materials, like hand-built clay with a reflective finish. My old work always inspires my new work. Whenever I’m working on a piece, I think of a new piece that excites me even more. It’s an endless — and exciting — cycle.