Ones to Watch
Right on Time
Ahead of their presentations at Design Miami 2022/, we’ve got a sneak peek of 3 rising stars who are designing to meet the moment
This month, Design Miami/ kicks off its 18th edition, led by curatorial director Maria Cristina Didero, exploring the theme The Golden Age: Looking to the Future. Ahead of the fair, we sat down with three standout talents—Audrey Large, Lin Fanglu, and Aleksandra Pollner—each of whom tackles timely topics through conceptually driven, expertly executed works. Scroll on for a sneak peek—and to learn more about what to expect from these not-to-be-missed makers in Miami.
Audrey Large, Nilufar
This year, Milan’s trailblazing Nilufar Gallery will present a selection of museum-worthy historical and contemporary works, including new pieces by French artist-designer Audrey Large, a rapidly rising star blurring the lines between digital and physical, as well as art and design, through works that challenge viewers’ perceptions of materiality in the digital age.
Large will debut Afterglow, an object series intuitively hand drawn in 3D modeling software and then 3D printed in PLA, a biodegradable plastic made from renewable sources. The resulting, futuristic pieces are composed of intertwining, fluid shapes with iridescent, reflective surfaces that play with the ambiguity between digital and physical. They are recognizable everyday objects, yet seemingly plucked straight from a video game, their function called into question by Large’s seductive free forms—an aesthetic she describes as “cartoons and baroque tradition or otherworldly ancient potteries carved by aliens.”
Afterglow, Large explains, “embraces the potential of digital space as a sensitive sculptural tool, leading to a new freedom of representation. Drawing inspiration from early cinema, new media, and digital visual culture,” she says, “the pieces show an expressive and personal visual language, while on the other hand seeking to push further the digital fabrication by materializing impossible objects as if they came out of a computer.”
Asked what she most hopes people will take away from her new work, Large says, “I like to think of each object as a small fantasy world that vibrates beyond itself to touch the viewer. Their boundaries and contours dissolve with the play of iridescence, making the objects almost unreal. I want people to have a deep and sensitive perceptive experience of the pieces to the point that they question their relationship to the material world beyond a binary and discrete conception, but rather fluid and connected.”
“I feel very connected to Audrey’s work; she embodies what I like to call Contemporary Barocco.” —Nina Yashar, founder, Nilufar Gallery
Lin Fanglu, Sarah Myerscough Gallery
London’s Sarah Myerscough Gallery is slated to present new objects by world class makers who marry traditional craftsmanship and natural materials with decidedly contemporary concepts and innovations—including the debut of two pieces by Chinese fiber artist Lin Fanglu.
Lin, whose recent accolades include winning the prestigious 2021 Loewe Craft Prize, is definitely one to watch. As Myerscough tells us, “She represents the best of the movement in contemporary craft and art that we champion—deeply innovative, intricate textile work steeped in historical awareness and built upon traditional craft practices. Her work is unabashedly beautiful, and far from simple in terms of complexity of technique. [The result of] an extraordinary stitch and knot process, her compositions speak of patterns in nature, organic yet regular, with an ever-evolving rhythm.”
Lin’s latest pieces were inspired by her time spent living and working beside the craftswomen of the Bai and Dong ethnic minority groups in China, who are experts in the disappearing art of tie-dyeing. During this time, not only did Lin hone her fiber arts skills, but she also became witness to these women’s lived experiences. The new works, made by meticulous hand-knotting, stitching, and pleating, can be read as homages to both the craft and the artisans.
As Lin explains, “I embraced and re-examined the techniques that have been traditionally linked with women’s craft, elevating the storytelling associated with the realm of thread and cloths to the level of the sculptural…My works in Design Miami/ speak volumes about the need to unveil and transform women’s obscure lives. Having [spent time with] these craftswomen, I have incidentally become witness to their joys and sorrows, hopes and regrets, struggles and achievements. These fortuitous emotional encounters, more than anything else, have shaped my artistic aspiration and visual language.”
In particular, Lin says, “I was fascinated with the process of tying, the step so fundamental in creating patterns on the famous Bai fabrics, and yet so paradoxically underappreciated. In the traditional process of crafting tie-dye fabrics, all knots come undone after dyeing. The thread is cut and removed, rigorously folded pleats and stitches responsible for elaborated patterns become fleeting memories—the evanescent glow of anonymous, backbreaking manual labor on the finished dyed fabric.”
As Myerscough observes, Lin’s new works “represent the perfect metaphor for all the unsung women working in textiles and craft mediums, creating masterpieces, never named or recognized.”
“Each puncture I made in the cloth let the light through to illuminate the female experiences I have witnessed.” —Lin Fanglu, fiber artist
Aleksandra Pollner, Wexler Gallery
During the 2021 Covid lockdown, Polish-born, LA-based designer Aleksandra Pollner developed a morning ritual of long walks—often up to 7 miles—during which she collected discarded Styrofoam from overflowing trash bins, a key artifact of our pandemic times. Pollner saw her daily act of collecting, bit by bit, as an anthropological investigation—a “gleaning,” as she calls it, of both “cultural and material leftovers.” Friends and family soon began donating their leftover styrofoam as well. “The material,” Pollner explains, “like some prehistoric carcasses, has always captivated my imagination, sparking questions about what these pieces once held, protected, and the inevitable question of what they may say about our civilization.”
Once back in her studio, Pollner experimented with the styrofoam using a variety of techniques, including suminagashi (the ancient art of Japanese paper marbling), hydro printing, gilding, and techniques used in historical papier-mâché furniture, as well as encasing experiments with industrial clay and resin. The resulting collection, Gleaning—which will be presented in Miami with renowned NYC and Philadelphia-based Wexler Gallery, alongside works by other artist pushing the boundaries of their craft—features striking amalgamations of styrofoam, every one a remarkable instance of trash transformed into treasure—dramatic works that demand closer inspection.
As Pollner notes, “According to the EPA, 96% of styrofoam in the US is discarded into landfills to never decompose or break down. With trash bins overflowing with styrofoam throughout the pandemic lockdowns and panic buying, [the Gleaning series] explores our shifting relationship with objects and our environment at this pivotal moment in time. The work reflects a meditation and focus on material. Material not in just a literal sense but a more fluid and all encompassing comprehension of material. Everything is material and material is everything.”
Asked what she most hopes observers take away from seeing the series, Pollner says, “I hope the objects are open-ended enough for you to find yourself within a story; a story of an apocalypse—or perhaps, maybe, something more regenerative.”
“Aleks has a philosophical and emotional connection to her materials and process. As she gleans, she poses universal questions about our environment, but she also elevates and beautifies the discarded trash, adorning it with carefully created colors and glistening finishes that both attract us and make us question its functional and decorative value.” —Wexler cofounders Lewis Wexler and Sherri Apter Wexler◆
Design Miami/ 2022 in Miami Beach is open to the public November 30 - December 4, 2022. Advance tickets are available here.