American Design Hot List 2016
New York, slashobjects.com
This year, Arielle Assouline-Lichten branched off from her architecture studio to launch a glamorous, assured debut furniture and object collection that mixes brass, marble, concrete, ceramic, and industrial rubber in endless combinations and at various scales.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
I think there’s the rise of a new Americana that’s been redefining design in this country, and I’m really excited to be working in a time of vibrancy and energy in the field. When I think about American design, I first think of Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin, the Wild West, and a streamlined aesthetic that built a way of making in this country. Fast forward past the turmoil in the maker culture of the American rust belt, and you get to a renewed interest in what can be done with design and fabrication on this soil. There’s an emboldened and critical approach to contemporary design in America that’s being fueled by a desire to reinvent and defy the status quo. I think it’s also about using the resources that we have in different ways than we have before. I love the excitement and urgency driving the design community right now to produce new inventions and new ways of making.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
The upcoming year is all about getting bigger and better. I’m literally trying to figure out how to take a chunk out of a mountain and turn it into large-scale pieces that are functional and impactful. I’m really excited to grapple with the weightiness of raw stone, thinking through its connection with other materials, and all to face all of the new constraints that come at this scale. I’m also seeing the production of smaller pieces from my debut collection at Sight Unseen OFFSITE finally leave the presses and enter the marketplace. Slash Objects rubber coasters, placemats and vanity mirrors will be hitting retail stores, and I’m looking forward to seeing them reach a wider audience. It’s been a huge undertaking to design every step of the way with materials that have never coexisted in this way. I’m going to keep pushing those boundaries in my next collection, which I’m now starting to design. I haven’t stopped brainstorming for next year’s design week since the end of the last one!
What inspires/informs your work in general?
My work is largely inspired by creating interesting connections between disparate parts. In design, i’m really intrigued by work that defies expectation and creates a sense of discovery. I love playing with materials and pushing their material boundaries. I also think that you can achieve a sense of harmony with a balance of difference – that you need a bit of foreignness in order to create something imperfectly whole- i love the japanese notion of wabi sabi. I also think that my broad reach in the design field allows one medium or scale to bleed into another, and therefore inform one another. I find that my work is intuitive in conception, driven from some sensibility that I have, but then rationalized as I work through different problems and find new solutions.
My collection for Slash Objects started with a rubber composite that I discovered and wanted to use in a new way. I began by playing with the material, understanding how it works and thinking through ways it could be both beautiful and functional, so that people would be excited about seeing it this way. That led to the weird combination of rubber, concrete, and brass in the Rubber CYL side table that I developed, where each part serves a purpose, and together they work really harmoniously.