American Design Hot List 2020
Giovanni Valdeavellano was a fun discovery for our Offsite Online show this year. The Guatemalan-born designer creates work that combines sculpture, digital technologies, and craft; it often has one foot in the computer and one on the lathe.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
I believe design in America is the enrichment of our diverse heritage, mixing in the most cosmopolitan cities like New York. In the beginning, designs were inspired by things brought mainly from Europe where aesthetics were dictated by religion or politics. But American freedom and the mix of cultures quickly started to shape things in a fascinating new way. New trends developed through the advancement of technologies that skyrocketed thanks to the merging of personalities hungry for a better future and the possibilities that the new world offered.
Today we are lucky to live in an era where evolution has taken its course and we have developed a new heritage. I believe New York City is the epicenter of design, and that trends now expand to the world not from here but through here. This incomparable city receives the best from every corner of the world and gives it all back, spiced and seasoned by our own culture.
I’ve had the most amazing experience, meeting, learning, and collaborating with great personalities from all over. New York City life is the best design school of the world.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
My plans drastically changed due to the current situation with the pandemic. An opportunity has emerged in London where I plan to go and expand my network and learn. Just a few weeks ago I became an American citizen after living and fighting the good fight in this grandiose land for the past 20 years. Now I go to Europe as an American, which makes me super proud!
The oath ceremony was a very emotional experience, officiated by Judge Mary Kay Viskocyl, who made me cry the whole time. She reminded me that true Americans can come from anywhere. What an example she is!
What inspires or informs your work in general?
My work is inspired by the most bizarre things and my sources constantly change but currently I’m working on a commission for a client from Brooklyn who found Studio POA through Sight Unseen.
He was looking for a Guatemalan artist to make him a centerpiece for his new residence. A few years back he adopted two boys from Guatemala and wanted to pay homage to their heritage through art.
His boys have been his rock through hard times and their story moved me in a deep sense. I decided to step back and make them the designers. I explained my methods and guided them through the process. I wanted them create the piece and be the piece. They used negative spaces and silhouettes from photos with their dad, things that were iconic to them. The resulting shapes are the pieces that make a desk where they gather to work and tinker with their computers, which is their current passion.
I plan to come back to New York and live here when I feel ready, but I will break ties with my studio that I share with other amazing artists, where I had been working since the pandemic struck. Supersmith has been the warmest, most collaborative group of people and I’m very sad to leave even though it’s been only a few months since I joined them. My heart stays in New York and Studio POA remains open for custom orders. I will be reachable online, traveling back and forth as much a the situation permits and have already set up a system with my new team to manufacture and install here in the US.