American Design Hot List 2021
One of our favorite movements in recent years has been the scaling-up of hand-built ceramics into furniture, and one of our favorite participants is Philly’s Sean Gerstley, whose instantly recognizable pocked lamps and color-block patchwork tables have gotten steadily more ambitious in the past year or so. Not to mention he makes a mean menorah, too.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
For me, American design is a bright wave of optimistic innovation. I’m thrilled about all of the material exploration going on: Designers are rearranging traditional methods and developing new ways of working, and then re-contextualizing where we see the objects and how we use them. As kind of a ceramic purist, it’s been particularly exciting to see how clay exploded in the design field and continues to be a conduit for fresh ideas.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I’m currently working on a few commissions of tables and lighting that will be installed in the upcoming year. Also, I’m looking forward to continuing to work with Superhouse, presenting new work with them at a design fair or two. This winter, I’m building out a showroom in Philadelphia. My practice takes up a lot of space, so I want this showroom to serve as a clean place for client meetings and for an archive of my work — come visit! Finally, I have plans to continue developing my tableware line, called Gerstley. In the Spring, I’m launching into new markets in North America and Europe.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
I’m really a major clay head, and I’m constantly inspired by how this material and process connects with our humanity so deeply. Thinking about the history of ceramics as a 30,000-year odyssey in which we first married art forms and industry in Paleolithic kilns gets me very excited.