David Wiseman Interprets The Beauty of Mother Nature
In honor of all the mothers out there, we are featuring a young designer who is inspired by Mother Nature. David Wiseman brings his vision of earthly wonders indoors with his dramatic and fanciful installations. His signature use of complex, inherent beauty evolves into imaginative chandeliers, fireplace frames and screens with the sweetest details. Wiseman also makes gorgeous octagon vases formed with brass or cut into crystal. He took some time out of his busy schedule in Shanghai, where he was working on a commissioned Dior project, to give us a peek into his imagination and how he interprets the complexities found in nature.
Renee Massaro: You majored in furniture design at RISD, are you still interested in furniture?
David Wiseman: I have been working on some concepts and prototypes for the past couple years. I haven’t shared them yet, they are still very much works in progress and have been put on the back burner because of all the recent commissions.
RM: Are there furniture designers who inspire you?
DW: I love the simple elegance of Kjaerholm and of course the Lalanne’s.
RM: In an interview you mentioned a ceramic thrift store deer was once your muse. Have you found a new one?
DW: The deer is still my good friend, though I am no longer making things just for him and his friends. He is always present when I need help imagining new forms.
RM: How would you describe your style?
DW: Don’t know…this is a hard question for me. Informed by nature, historical precedents, and some inherent sense of what I think looks good.
RM: Do you find other inspiration outside the design world?
DW: I am in Shanghai right now, and feel very inspired by Chinese ink and watercolors and especially the ancient bronzes. I am often interested in how different cultures abstract and interpret nature through their pattern and ornament.
RM: What materials do you enjoy using the most?
DW: Each material has its own particular talent. I don’t try to put contrasting materials together in order to express a philosophy, the materials are pretty clear with me when they want to become a form or not, so maybe that’s the philosophy, listen to what the materials want to do.
RM: Do you ever use salvaged material in your work?
DW: I found really wonderful vintage copper mesh beads that I patina and use in all the hanging Glacier Pendant lamps. As long as the material is not recognizable as one specific style or from one specific era, then I am open to using it.
RM: How important is functionality in your work?
DW: I am very uncomfortable with “art” on a pedestal for my work. I love interaction, and when a piece can have a direct relationship through its function with its user, all the better.
RM: Is it more interesting to you to change the identity of a material or use it organically?
DW: Every material needs to be treated differently. Porcelain for example is formed while in a liquid state, so I have to be more heavily involved in bringing it into the form I want. The bronze process I employ uses molds, after the casting is set, then I can arrange the already made pieces into the desired forms. They are very different methods, but I wouldn’t say their identities are changed. They both lend themselves to forms that interest me. I just help them get there by different methods.
RM: What materials do you enjoy using the most?
DW: I am still thrilled whenever I open up a plaster mold to reveal a newborn clay casting. In contrast to many materials such as plastics or rubber that involve toxic chemicals, slip-cast porcelain is such a simple and elegant technique based on dry plaster absorbing wet clay.
RM: Do you work with the architecture that is already there?
DW: Yes. I love interacting with the architecture, whether it is a blank canvas, where my work can sometimes serve as a counterpoint to harsh planes, or where it can work in tandem with the existing ornament.
RM: I really like the details in your work; do you have an abundance of patience?
DW: I’m not sure, I think I might, or at least I know when to call it quit and start fresh, when I start to accidentally break things.
RM: What project/piece was the most fun for you? Why?
DW: I have fond memories of my very first ceiling project in LA. While it was incredibly challenging, I can still relive the rush I felt when my ideas on paper were realized, and I had clients that were behind me all the way.
RM: Are there any architects or designers who influence your work?
DW: The Lalannes, Dagobert Peche, William Morris
RM: What era in design is your favorite? (Region, country)
DW: Shang and Zhou dynasty bronzes, Viener Verkstatte, Vienna
RM: How did the Artel crystal and brass vases come into fruition?
DW: The Artel crystal came about after a friend who knew us both set us up. The forms for the crystal originated with my drawings of crystallized mountains, that were then cast into porcelain. The bronze vases, were also an evolution from those forms.
DW: I haven’t had time for anything outside of work in a long time…I like food a great deal. Spending unstructured time with my girlfriend, family and beloved dog.
RM: What’s your favorite thing at home?
DW: My espresso machine.
RM: What would be your dream project?
DW: To create entire environments, from walls and ceilings, to furniture, door handles, and silverware.
RM: Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
DW: I hope I’m just as involved with the process of each work as I am now. I couldn’t be much happier about everything.