When looking for some of the freshest designers to feature in our 8th issue, we decided to expand our reach. From Brooklyn and beyond, these are some of the fashion scene’s most daring up and coming creators.
Wildly imaginative and tirelessly prolific, the Bushwick-based designer has already hit the ground running. At the tender age of 28, Kahn already counts work shown in the Whitney Biennial and commissions from Dior among his achievements, but what exactly his work entails is more difficult to define. The distinct mash-up of art and design is where disparate shapes, materials, and genres converge: the traditional with the high-tech, the cement-cast with the inflatable, the Photoshopped with the handwoven. Kahn’s debut solo show at the prestigious Friedman Benda gallery in Chelsea in February of this year featured the likes of an anthropomorphic armoire that looked to be made of hay and one particularly well-received mohair tapestry depicting a still life composed of vintage Jell-O molds.
“I guess it’s like the home decor of a Pee-wee-esque alien takeover that results in a kind of sunny dystopia,” Kahn offers. His body of work, which critics have happily deemed “zany” and “Candy Land by way of an acid flashback,” is greater than the sum of its influences. The Duluth, Minnesota, native counts art museums, Belgian fashion designer Walter van Beirendonck and Gwen Stefani among his myriad sources of inspiration. On his current agenda is his second show at Friedman Benda, slated for 2017. But further out? “Redecorate the White House my way, open a floating hotel, host a variety show, make furniture for the moon and for Mars,” he says. There’s also designing a plane, which disproves the old adage that the sky’s the limit.
For more information on Khan’s designs, visit www.mishakahn.com.
Liz Collins’s normally quotidian household features—the rug, the tapestry, the wallpaper, and the like—are somehow more than two-dimensional. In their play with vibrant patterns and colors, unusual material, and oversized scale, they give a room vibrational energy, best described as “Memphis meets Liquid Sky meets the decline of Western Civilization meets Bridget Riley meets Lenore Tawney,” she says.
Diverging slightly from her history of showing in museums and galleries, she’s taken this design ethos underfoot—quite literally—to launch a more accessible version of her work. Earlier this year, with collaborators Jeffrey Walkowiak and Michael Sharkey, she launched Warp Weft 3 (WW3 for short), a Redhook studio practice that composes floor coverings and architectural screens using the rudimentary “potholder” hand-weaving technique, but on a massive scale. Woven from extra-large swaths of ordinary jersey fabric, each piece possesses an unusual heft and a pronounced texture, a luxurious bumpiness that feels semi-therapeutic to walk on. In their sturdiness, they take on a sculptural quality when folded. Look out for smaller mat-size versions at the Cooper Hewitt design store this fall.
To learn more about Liz Collins and WW3, visit www.lizcollins.com.
Alex P. White
Although it’s largely monochrome, the designer’s black-and-white world of furniture and interiors is never austere—quite the opposite, in fact. The curvaceous armchairs White lovingly calls the “creatures,” for example, are clad in spray-dyed velvet; he outfits his adult-size play rooms (called “playshrooms”) in surreal textures from floor to ceiling; and much of his work is accompanied by costumed performance art.
White’s desire to create otherworldly interiors began during a discomfiting Georgia childhood, one he would escape from through disco and new wave and by rearranging furniture. “My mom’s world upstairs was all Southern belle: Duncan Fife heirlooms mixed with hideous family hand-me-downs,” he recalls. “I was so uncomfortable in my environment that I developed a compulsive desire to make spaces feel better, to make me feel better, to make us feel better.” His mission can manifest itself into the creation of a total environment or a very comfortable chair. Next on his agenda is a solo exhibition at Lower East Side exhibition space the Annex in November, a show that seems to resound with his childhood sentiments. “I’m conjuring a queer space somewhere between a chapel and a nightclub, a healing space for transformation and reclamation.”
Alex White’s designs can found at www.alexpwhite.com.