Dwell 24: Ayako Aratani and Evan Fay

Ayako Aratani, 34, and Evan Fay, 29, are studio partners determined to go their own ways.
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Aratani's Roommate lamp, which has a cloud-like shade of bent wire, and Fay's Lawless sofa, a rigid framework woven with foam ribbons, aren't obvious companions. But when the designers met at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, they discovered they had similar interests despite stylistic differences: a desire to break from the rigors of industrial design, make things by hand, and celebrate incongruities. Since graduating in 2016, they've shared a Detroit-area studio and resources while maintaining individual authorship of their creations. 

We asked the breakout designers about who inspires them, their most treasured possessions, and what daily rituals get them in the zone. Read the answers below.

"All production for our pieces is done by both of us, and we show together under the name Aratani Fay," says Fay. "But our products are different." 


Aratani: Chiba Prefecture, Japan

Fay: Traverse City, Michigan

Current location: 

Pontiac, Michigan

Something you always carry with you: 

A: Pen and notebook.

First childhood memory related to design: 

F: Building blanket forts.

Lawless Sofa, designed by Evan Fay.

Daily ritual to get into a creative space: 

A: See the nature, feel the wind outside.

Musical artist or album that inspires you: 

F: "We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service" by A Tribe Called Quest.

Roommate Lamp, designed by Ayako Aratani.

Person you most admire: 

A: Ruth Adler Schnee.

Talent you would most like to have: 

A: Communicating with any living things.

The Lawless Chair, designed by Evan Fay, is a "celebration of irregularity within a system, pursuing a more artful form that responds to the chaotic landscape within our structured society," says the designer. "A punk aesthetic contextualizes a poetic moment to reflect and voice through design, an attitude towards our hectically evolving environments and contemporary dilemmas."

Your most treasured possession: 

A: A letter from a friend.

Advice you would give yourself five years ago: 

A: Believe yourself and keep going.

Ayako Aratani thinks of the Button Up Chair as "a big lovable monster in the room, one which can hide and protect you from the outside busy world. [The] outside shell is made of one thick piece of felt to shut off the external sounds and distractions, and [the] inside texture brings a soft touch for your comfort."

Describe your work in one word: 

A and F: Irregularity.

Favorite or least favorite design trend: 

A and F: Using natural, raw, authentic material.

You can follow Aratani Fay on their website or on Instagram.

Meet the rest of the Dwell 24, our selection of up-and-coming designers to watch in 2018.


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