American Design Hot List 2021
Nicholas Bijan Pourfard
San Diego, nbijan.design
In little more than a year, Nicholas Bijan Pourfard went from a guy known for making guitars out of skateboards to a designer with a full portfolio of furniture and lighting — including one of our favorite lamps of 2021, the quirky all-clay Mushroom lamp. While he has a stated preference for simple constructions and rigorous forms, his pieces are never lacking in personality.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
American design can mean many different things. We’re a diverse country with many cultures, which are all reflected in our design. As an Iranian-American designer who grew up in Southern California, I draw inspiration from many different areas of my background. I think this is what sets American designers apart. We grew up in a blended environment with different cultural experiences and resources all around us.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I hope to design larger pieces that test the boundaries of the materials I use. I’m currently prototyping designs that blend very different elements, which is taking my love for simple design and incorporating an unlikely second material within. So far, I don’t think I’ve reached the limit of what’s possible with glass, wood, or ceramic — and more complex ways of using the materials together. One of my main goals is to create designs that are functional and unique without being over-conceptualized.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
It inspires me to see people who are really masters of their craft. As a designer, I get to work with immensely talented people who help me prototype my designs as well as produce them. To see them in their own element is very inspiring. What I love about the design community I’m a part of is our ability to assist each other in our work. I greatly value growing relationships with the people I work with, and I think it adds to the outcome of every piece. Evan Lopez is a perfect example. He’s an incredible ceramicist and has been instrumental in the production of my Mushroom lamp. I’m inspired by his skill as well as his designs, and the large ceramic pieces he produces. Moving back to San Diego, which shares a border with Mexico, it was illuminating to see how much was happening here. The longer I’ve been here the more I’ve tapped into this incredible, bi-national community of artisans.