Los Angeles designers Matthew Sullivan, Tanya Aguiñiga, and Ben Medansky exhibited their work during the 2014 Milan Design Week as part of the L.A. x Milano project curated by Bold LA and BPM Studio. "Coming together with the Los Angeles designers was very interesting," Fabrizio Bertero, principal of BPM, says. "Much of the interest was in Tanya’s colorful weavings and Sullivan’s masks—ethnic exchange and specifically the mix of Latin and American cultures was the basis of this collaboration. The 80s were a visible inspiration in the furniture featured within the instillation. The collection produced seemingly different languages, but their common denominator was found in the sophisticated ceramics by Medansky." We share some of the pieces on view.
The founder of Al Que Quiere, Matthew Sullivan exhibited his furniture and objects, which nod to Postmodern design of the 1980s. "Nothing is completely new, perhaps a unique combination, but not new," he says. "All the words that people speak, all words written, all the concepts we have for furniture or government or interpersonal relationships—even if they exist in opposition to precedents—are literally built from the past both microscopically and ideologically as well as part of an infinitely larger inscrutable process."
The walnut Sarraute table is a variation of his earlier Logos table. "I am very proud of the original and will probably be playing with the general concept until, well, I can't," he says.
Sullivan explored anthropomorphism with his nickel-plated steel masks. "I am fond of saying that, 'there is no such thing as a human,'" he explains. "'Human' is literally just a word—a placeholder for whatever we actually are."
"As a kid, I would constantly play with silly putty to construct small abstract sculptures," Ben Medansky says. "I’ve always loved connecting with the earthy material of clay and been interested in making objects with my hands." Early explorations eventually led Medansky to study ceramics in high school and college; today he works from his L.A. studio creating functional pieces inspired by abstract forms.
The Vessels Medansky displayed were thrown on a wheel. He then applied more clay to the outside to create the 3-D surface textures. "I usually start by throwing a cylinder and adding or subtracting forms from there," he says. "Most of my pieces are inspired by certain movements and references found in modern art and architecture, such as Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France. When glazing the objects, I like to use a satin white speckled glaze because it’s a color I see it fitting into domestic and exhibition spaces."
Tanya Aguiñiga created the Chiapas stool after working with Mayan weavers in Mexico. "The women create beautiful animals out of hand woven fabrics," Aguiñiga says. "These stools are inspired by the animals and are hand-woven fabric with a wool felt bottom."
Crafts have become a powerful communication tool for Aguiñiga: "Having grown up in a place where trash is often used to construct houses, craft has provided me an outlet to create something that is functional while translating emotions into a three dimensional object," she says. 'The art objects I create were not merely aesthetic, but can be used on a daily basis as well, connecting me to a long tradition of artisans worldwide—which is how I began my craft education and career."