American Design Hot List 2017
His studio is only a year old, but Steven Bukowski’s products so far — from a Noguchi-inspired bent steel table to a chic little table mirror we exhibited at this year’s OFFSITE show — all share a refined aesthetic that make us eager to see what he’ll make next. What sealed the deal on his Hot List award was a new series of playful wooden furniture he’s been collaborating on with his wife, artist Hannah Bigeleisen, which we’ll feature more of soon.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
Being less interested in design principles, I tend to see the redefining of the role of the designer and the conventions of the existent business models as a central feature of design in the States. Designers here embrace the spirit of individuality, yet as a community, we share the ambition of breaking traditional boundaries in terms of material usage, and processes. It’s working alongside so many talented artists and designers that really excites me; we exchange ideas and knowledge and have a shared passion for excellent design. I think American design is now strongly influenced by this strong sense of community, fostering new ideas and ongoing dialogues, while offering access to equipment, technology, information, and networks.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I’m excited to be putting together a new collection of furniture and accessories. These designs are the result of my investigating how form and material can be used to manipulate space and perception. I’m also revisiting some of my earlier designs and refining them in terms of engineering and proportions with the goal of making them a bit more production ready. I’ve also started up a collaboration with my wife, the artist Hannah Bigeleisen, which presently focuses on a large-scale public installation in one of several NYC parks.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
I love futzing around in the shop and figuring these things out, it’s like a game or a puzzle. This play also allows for new ideas or uses to emerge that were not initially considered. Meanwhile, I draw inspiration from a long family history of engineering, fabrication, and craft. When approaching a project or idea, I typically allow for the materials or processes to inform the function and aesthetics; it is an ongoing dialogue throughout the prototyping process.