American Design Hot List 2016
New York, studioproba.com
Alex Proba is primarily a graphic designer, but in the past three years she’s become one of the most in-demand collaborators in the design scene, lending her expert eye for pattern and color to the likes of Bower, Aelfie, CHIAOZZA, and — soon — CC-Tapis.
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
I’ve moved to New York City almost 6 years ago, after studying in the Netherlands at the Design Academy Eindhoven, and at the beginning I was actually very clueless about contemporary American design and what it means. I’ve since learned and experienced that American design takes itself less seriously than European design (or the design I grew up with), and lets you be a bit more playful, with a wink.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
I am actually so excited for next year. I’ve never been part of a show or exhibition outside the US, and next year I’m finally going to show in Milan. I have had the great honor to work with CC-Tapis on a new collection of rugs which will be launching at the Salone del Mobile in April. I’m very proud and nervous at the same time. I almost feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. Another very special project for me is a celebration of tradition and craft: I’m working with an amazingly talented weaving community in Ecuador, designing housewares that showcase their beautiful craft techniques and celebrate their tradition and history. I’m also working on an online publication and event series called “Substance Quarterly” with my dear friend Caroline Lau, which explores art, design, and food through the lens of one material. It will be launching early next year.
What inspires/informs your work in general?
Back in school I used to look to literature and design history for inspiration, but that’s drastically changed ever since I started my A Poster A Day project almost 4 years ago. I’ve learned how to be inspired by not visual and design-y things but by simple conversations with people, their stories, and their emotions, as well as smell. That also leads to materials — I love researching materials and their properties, and to feel and see them at the same time inspires me. In general I have to say that it isn’t necessarily visual inspiration that brings out an idea in me, it can be way more abstract than that. Sometimes all I need is a phone call with my grandmother to get my creative flow going.