In the Mix
5 inspiring materials-driven designers to follow on Instagram
For some Tuesday inspiration, Design Miami editors have gathered together a few of our favorite Instagram accounts of the moment. This time around, we have materials on our minds, and so we’re shouting out innovative designers who get up close and personal with all sorts of unexpected media—often with an eye towards creating a better tomorrow. Scroll on to enrich your life lived on social.
Dividing time between Mexico and the UK, Fernando Laposse’s experimental practice is motivated by a deep commitment to environmental and social sustainability. At once hands-on and research driven, his approach explores local organic materials and their environmental and cultural connotations, fueled by the laudable goals of resuscitating biodiversity and reinvesting long term in indigenous communities. And the results are just plain fun; Laposse transforms sisal, corn leaves, and loofah into furniture and animal forms, elegant surface treatments, and more.
Raised in the rural French Alpes, the daughter of a beekeeper, Marlene Huissoud knows a thing or two about insects. The French designer’s practice embraces materials like honeybee resin and silkworm cocoons to create surprising, museum-worthy furniture and objects—”future craft artifacts,” as Huissoud calls them—that always demand a second look. No matter the medium, Huissoud’s intricate, charming work points to a treasure trove of untapped biomaterial possibilities all around us, asking us to consider our relationship to—and impact on—the environment in which we live.
Polish designer Marcin Rusak crafts materials and objects from decaying organic elements, preserving often-overlooked moments in time for closer inspection. Take, for example, his ongoing series Flora and Perma, for which Rusak sources discarded flowers from the floral industry, extending their life cycles by combining petals, stems, and buds in molded resin to create a solid composite material. Or Protoplasting Nature, a lighting and furniture series for which he preserves leaves in metallic cocoons. Tackling topics from sustainability and transformation to consumer culture and beyond, Rusak’s bewitching, refined works approach nature as both medium and message.
Seoul-based artist-designer Ok Kim studied furniture design before returning to university to learn the traditional Korean art of lacquer. Her most recent collection, Merge, brings Korean Ottchil—a natural lacquer material and technique found in some east Asian countries—into the 21st century by merging hyper-minimalist forms with vibrant, polychromatic surfaces. The series was inspired by the Korean practice of stone stacking, often found in front of temples, as a wish for good fortune. Kim says the gorgeous, blended colors represent the wishes people make through the layering of stones—an accumulation of positive energy that adds beauty to the world.
Calling himself a “Design Expressionist,” Prague-born Tadeas Podracky creates intricate objects that are intended to “enhance our emotional bond to our environment.” His recent Metamorphosis collection, produced during lockdown in his hometown, brought together whatever materials he could get his hands on at the time: wood, textiles, discarded car parts, old ceramics, and broken glass sheets. He turned deprivation into a series of Baroque compositions that celebrated reinvention and repurposing.