American Design Hot List 2019
Objects for Objects
Los Angeles, objectsforobjects.com
If Leonard Cordell Bessemer’s wavy and oblong works for his nascent furniture brand Objects for Objects have cartoon-like colors and forms — well, that’s on purpose. Bessemer counts The Simpsons and The Flintstones among his many influences. But even more than that, he’s inspired by the interplay between fantasy and reality and the potential of furniture to be something more powerful and comforting than a mere object in the room.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
Growing up in “real America” — the central valley of California to be specific — design wasn’t really a topic at the dinner table or thought of at all. It was a time when food was frozen, furniture was La-Z-Boys, and wine came in a box. Over the past 30 years, America has had a crash course in culture and is beginning to appreciate the finer things life has to offer, but the one thing that still remains that is truly American is this idea of the pioneer and the “Western” which is ultimately about paving your own way, making your own rules, and deciding your own fate. The current design landscape in America holds true to that and feels very much like the Wild West — not in style, but in sentiment. It seems like all the academic rules of design have been thrown out and now anything is possible. The more hand-crafted, rudimentary, and sculptural the better — just so long as you can almost sit on it or it has a light bulb. Designers are less worried about how a piece functions and more concerned with its overall impact on a space and the people that inhabit it. There is almost a spiritual and/or indigenous aspect to a lot of the work I’m seeing and excited about at the moment.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
2019 has been a great year for me, but I’m hoping to expand production in 2020 and make things more widely available. I’ll be releasing a new collection in the spring. I’m working on a project with Areaware right now, and I’ll be showing some lighting at Collectible in Brussels with Chloé Valette of Husk Design
What inspires or informs your work in general?
I started out working for the British artist David Thorpe in Berlin. His work is very much in the element of Arts and Crafts movement meets Kubrick Monolith. We made everything by hand using mostly traditional methods. The final pieces were furniture-like in form and appearance but functioned solely as sculptures — one piece was a livestock sized cabinet/armoire with no doors. His work was very much process-oriented, and very much about the idea that the labor and care that goes into a piece instills within it an inherent worth and value. It was a mild form of animism, as if these pieces were given something akin to a soul through labor and toil.
The idea of an object having a divine purpose beyond its functionality stuck with me. I’ve tried to embody that process in my own practice and designs. I’m very much into creating pieces that can hold their own in a space and have their own identity where their visual and physical presence is just as important — if not more important — as their actual function. I want my pieces to co-habitate in one’s space — more as a roommate or a pet than as a functional object. I think if we change the way we view the objects around us, we will not only be more thoughtful and selective, but the things we choose will have longer, fuller lives with histories of their own. I’m just trying to give my pieces the ability to stand up for themselves and a fighting chance against all the other objects out there.
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