Designers in a Hot Spot

Designers in a Hot Spot

Seven RISD alumni are included in Sight Unseen’s recently released 2016 American Design Hot List, an “unapologetically subjective editorial award” meant to draw attention to emerging talents.

Cardenas’ eyewear design for Gentle Monster

New York architect Rafael de Cardenas 96 AP, whose studio recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, landed at the top of the list. “In general, we seem to be working on a larger scale this year,” he says. “But I also love the smaller-scale projects that allow us to work with a finer grain of detail like the eyewear we designed with Gentle Monster.”

Also included among Sight Unseen’s top picks are three design teams that got their start at RISD: the NYC-based studio Uhuru (founded by Bill Hilgendorf 02 ID and Jason Horvath 02 ID), Washington-based Grain (husband and wife team James Minola 07 ID and Chelsea Green Minola MID 07) and the bicoastal Charlap Hyman & Herrero, led by furniture designer Adam Charlap Hyman 11 FD and architect Andre Herrero BArch 12.

Uhuru is releasing a new collection of steel furniture called simply Fold.

Since first launching their design-build furniture studio in Brooklyn in 2004, the Uhuru team has built on its own success by opening a Manhattan showroom, starting their own contract workplace line and launching a collection of steel furniture that’s taking their aesthetic in a new and exciting direction. Still, Hilgendorf and Horvath remain committed to creating work that shows the way nature affects materials over time. “There’s incredible beauty in capturing that process and bringing it into an interior space in a piece of furniture,” they say.

“Our design education taught us how rewarding it is to collaborate and learn from one another.”
Grain founders Chelsea and James Minola

Grain’s sophisticated new collection is largely a product of collaboration. “Our design education taught us how rewarding it is to collaborate and learn from one another,” the Minolas explain. “We’ve been so shaped by working together with our peers as well as the artists, craftspeople and manufacturers who help us realize our work.”

Grain focuses on sustainability in each of the beautifully crafted products it designs and produces.

Charlap Hyman and Herrero also cite collaboration as an important part of their success and emphasize the importance of diverse points of view. “Because of our varied design backgrounds—and the manifold nature of our projects—the intersections of different disciplines are particularly exciting for us,” they note.

“In our design process, we like to challenge ourselves to fall in love with what we hate,” the duo adds. “Sometimes on Fridays we go to the Met and look for the piece of furniture that we find most ugly and then try to imagine an architectural space that would make it compelling.”

Simone Solondz


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