American Design Hot List 2014
With his penchant for offbeat materials and experimental processes, the Minnesota-born RISD grad Kahn reminds us of a latter-day Gaetano Pesce.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
America has such a rich aesthetic, but in recent design history I think this has been left by the wayside in lieu of tired European influences. It feels like a lot of designers are turning around and looking more deeply at our own history — both classical American furniture and American folk or craft work. I’m definitely heavily influenced by the kind of making-meets-problem-solving-meets-oddity-energy that goes into a lot of the homebrewed furniture solutions I’ve seen in Minnesota.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
Right now I really want a nap! I just finished an intense summer, making a lot of work for the NYC Makers biennial at the Museum of Arts & Design, furnishing a whole floor at Bergdorf’s, and lots of other odd projects like shoes for the fashion label Eckhaus Latta. I also made a ton of lamps for the Bjaarne Melgaard installation in the Whitney Biennial this spring. I have a jewelry show in June at Gallery Loupe, which is a great art jewelry space. I’m making a ton of enormous coil pots and working on a lot of fun commissions, and some big things are happening this year. I’m hoping for a blockbuster documentary film with custom squiggly 3D glasses.
What inspires your work in general?
Basically I’ve been cutting out all the things I don’t enjoy doing in studio and replacing them with new methods I’m coming up with. Glenn Adamson of MAD called something of mine “Instant Craft” in a recent article, and I’m worried that might have made my impatience-turned–craft practice into something too tangible. I’m going on a little road trip with my mom this month to go see a lot of roadside art places that I’ve never seen in person. I’m really interested in people who create their own little worlds in that way, so I’m penciling that in for future inspiration.