Newcity asked Chicago designers to choose one object they’d created and discuss it.
What does this object say about your practice?
The Ahn Bar is part of a series exploring ideas about surface and tension through positive/negative and geometric/organic. Each of my pieces, be it furniture or objects, are designed to inspire and delight through the unexpected elements each explore.
Lead us through your process.
Most all of my work starts by examining our expectations and assumptions we have of what a piece of furniture or object is and how it works. I explore what those assumptions are and then try to work against them to create the unexpected.
Do you start with trying to answer a specific problem or simply work off of a creative impulse?
Usually the idea comes first and then it’s about finding the right materials to further express and communicate the idea behind the piece.
Is materiality a foremost concern or do you first conceive of the idea and then marry its form to material?
I work through many iterations. They are critical to the formal development in the quest of a visual and functional perfection.
How much iteration precedes the final result? Are you ever satisfied by the outcome?
I am usually satisfied by the outcome which is perhaps not typical. Almost the opposite is true for me: Given the amount of iterations and prototyping done as part of the formal development, at times I feel a bit of disappointment once I see the real piece because it looks “just like the prototype.” This is actually a good thing of course in that there aren’t many bad surprises.
How do you gauge the success of a project?
I gauge the success by the desirability it has even though it isn’t always immediate. Often it takes a few years for my pieces to catch on. I seem to be working about two years ahead of the curve.
Felicia Ferrone is the principal and founder of fferronedesign, and the Director of Graduate Studies in Industrial Design and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
Ben Schulman is the editor of the design section of Newcity and co-host of “A Lot You Got to Holler,” the Newcity podcast on design, architecture and urbanism. His work with Newcity is one of many ventures he engages in to communicate the value of design and cities. Ben serves as the communications director for Small Change, a real estate crowdfunding platform that works to catalyze the development of transformative real estate projects. Previously, he was the communications director for the Chicago chapter of The American Institute of Architects, editor of Chicago Architect magazine and communications director for the urban think-tank, the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). His writing has appeared and been noted in outlets such as ARCHITECT Magazine, Belt Magazine, ICON, New Geography, Streetsblog, The National Review, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pop City Media and as a contributor to The Urbanophile, among others. When not writing about cities, Ben serves as an editorial assistant for the journal New Media + Society, and helps head the Contraphonic Sound Series, an attempt to document cities through sound.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: benschulman.com