Misha Kahn prepares to unveil his latest shape-shifting works in New York
Ahead of his exhibition at Friedman Benda, Wallpaper* pays a visit to designer Misha Kahn to discuss digital and analogue proccesses, low-brow pop-culture, and being an anomaly in contemporary design
Sunset Park, nestled between the East River waterfront and Brooklyn’s Chinatown, has seen an influx of creatives, taking over the former Navy Yard buildings and industrial spaces. Among them is 30-year-old designer Misha Kahn, who has set up his new studio in the area. And on the cold, rainy December day that I visit, Kahn and his five studio assistants are bundled up. Tall and lean, Kahn is wearing long johns and sturdy outdoor attire, a strategic outfitting he probably picked up during the cold winters of Duluth, Minnesota, where he grew up.
He walks me through the studio, a former thread-dyeing factory, still industrial at its core. On one side is a loading dock, where that afternoon his team hoisted in a large crate containing a robot, typically used on car assembly lines. It had been shipped from Spain and the crate was waiting to be opened. (He later explained this would be part of his set-up for micro-manufacturing furniture.)
Kahn graduated from Rhode Island School of Design’s furniture design programme in 2011. His sharp upward trajectory since then has been atypical, like the designer himself. He didn’t assist a designer or go to work for an established furniture brand; instead he worked for a prop stylist. ‘I learned an insane amount,’ he explains of the stint. ‘Like how to make everything in a room look good together.’ And it makes sense, given Kahn’s whimsical, borderline surreal installations. His uncommon combinations of materials – wood, resin, vinyl, fibreglass, woven basketry, glass, cement, aluminium, bronze, spun copper, grass, mohair – come together to create a singular universe that would be hard to imagine if not created by Kahn.
February 19, 2020