American Design Hot List 2023
The Perfect Nothing Catalog
Los Angeles, @theperfectnothingcatalog
We first featured Frank Traynor of The Perfect Nothing Catalog almost exactly a decade ago, when he was selling commissioned works by Chen & Kai, Jessica Hans, Cody Hoyt, and more from a shack installed on a subway platform in Williamsburg — already a master of the high/low. His latest project, an exhibition at The Future Perfect called Can Opener of Myself — presumably a Whitman reference — features found objects like flashlights, trash cans, pizza wheels, switch plates, cherry pitters, tongs, and napkin dispensers, all of which have been plated in tin and encrusted with shells or jewels, turning each item into an intoxicating, joy-inducing object. It’s perhaps the most unlikely project to make this list, but what else is the point of design than to make the everyday extraordinary?
What is American design to you, and what excites you about it?
Other than drone bombs and robotic military dogs, I want to think about the Shakers and Sacred Harp and Prairie School and the hippies and our “folk” arts and craftspeople. I’m always rooting for the people figuring out how to live close to nature and how to offer beautiful things to each other — the kelp weavers and mud silkscreeners and coral castle builders and basement eel-pit keepers.
What are your plans and highlights for the upcoming year?
It’s really not in my nature to plan too far ahead. I’m looking forward to spending the winter in LA, letting work and projects and ideas unfold as they go. I want to try to get in to glassblowing, and I want to try to get on The Price is Right.
What inspires or informs your work in general?
Thrift stores and hardware stores and dollar stores and restaurant supply stores and rock collectors and shell collectors; the Met’s American Wing visible storage; Johnathan Katz’s cabinet at The People’s Store in Lambertville, New Jersey; the worlds of ideas of Sid and Marty Krofft and William Morris and Lloyd Kahn.