American Design Hot List 2020
23-year-old designer Soren Ferguson might be the youngest person we’ve ever featured on the Hot List but the RISD grad has both the pedigree — he’s worked for Vonnegut/Kraft, Misha Kahn, Eny Lee Parker, Grain, and more — and the chops. We have absolutely no idea what he’s going to make next — and that’s a good thing.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
To talk about American design as whole, I could spin some platitude about capitalism or values but really I don’t feel I have that grasp over it. American design is an aggregate of so many different self-actualized design communities; it’s not as a body that I see it, but locally. I experience it through the lens of Brooklyn. Here I’ve found there is an impetuous quality I really identify with. I think there is a nouveau riche sort of thing happening. A repudiation of the old. Things can be brash and not thought through, a little silly and definitely breaking with traditional notions of craft. Perhaps that’s no new observation but rather a recognition of a long existing pattern. Nonetheless I’m happy to be a part of its current iteration.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I hope for exposure to new materials and new ways of making. I hope for more of that to come unconventionally and in lived experience. This past year certainly facilitated that. Quarantine had me carving the stones I’d find on walks at the beach. I think that’s a sentiment I’d like to carry into 2021 — going to the source so to speak.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
Right now informality. When I left school and the infrastructure I had there, the way I worked had to change, too. What were predictable and solvable problems with the support of an institution now require makeshift solutions. Those traditional methods — whose efficacy lie in a well-funded shop — are exchanged for alternatives improvised in its absence. It’s equal parts the wrong tool for the job and navigating a subway turnstile with a sheet of plywood. It’s certainly not the most productive way of making furniture nor is New York the place for that, but there’s a scrappiness I like and a resourcefulness I hope to carry forward.