“These are revolutionary, old ideas,” said NYSID president David Sprouls, describing New York City’s bourgeoning design and manufacturing renaissance in the opening remarks for the college’s Made In New York lecture on February 12.
From top: Anne Hellman, Michael Arnaud, Katie Deedy, Mary Wallis, Takeshi Miyakawa and Jason Miller
The event featured Design Brooklyn authors Anne Hellman and Michel Arnaud as moderators leading a discussion of what it means to be a designer and maker in New York City today—specifically in Brooklyn. The four panelists included Katie Deedy, a wallpaper designer from Grow House Grow; Jason Miller, a product designer from Jason Miller Studio and Roll & Hill; Takeshi Miyakawa, an interior and product designer from Takeshi Miyakawa Design; and Mary Wallis, a lighting designer from Mary Wallis Studio.
The designers spoke about how they got their start, how the city supports and influences their work, and the challenges and triumphs they have faced in making, marketing and distributing their work.
Deedy spoke first about her business, Grow House Grow, known for its narrative-inspired wallpapers, fabrics, and tiles.
"When I make simple designs, I get excited, I think it's going to sell well,” said Deedy of creating product for the NYC market. “Invariably, people always want my more intricate patterns with lots of story behind them."
Wallpaper by Katie Deedy
As an illustrator, the idea for a wallpaper business came to her one day as a move that felt right, although she knew nothing about the wallpaper industry. Influenced by her mother, who is a professional storyteller, Deedy’s designs are based on stories about places, people, nature and more, giving depth to each design.
“The designs created a niche market based on the young, design-savvy urban market of Brooklyn and spread out from there,” she added.
Designed by Jason Miller
“A strong community and the market is centered here,” said Miller, of his decision to be based in NYC. Miller draws on everyday aspects of contemporary American culture to create furniture, tableware and other accessories that are sometimes as much conceptual art as they are contemporary design. His strategy includes both online sales of items such as plates and larger commissions through showrooms to grow his business.
Lighting by Takeshi Miyakawa
Miyakawa, who lives and works in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, creates photography, enigmatic furniture, installation and sculpture. "Brooklyn is such a big brand,” he said. “Everybody wants Brooklyn." He is also known for his urban interventions, one of which involved hanging “I love NY” bags off lampposts during the ICFF fair.
Lighting by Mary Wallis
Wallis earned a PhD in genetics before deciding to become a lighting designer. She said her creativity and craft has benefitted from the co-op artists space she shares with other artists/designers in Brooklyn.
"Do what you're really good at,” said Wallis of collaborating with other designers. “People will want to help you."
By collaborating and sharing space, the designers and artists are also able to share tools, ideas and collaborate on projects. Fabricating both custom and production work, her futuristic, hand-worked neon and glass lights are informed by the vital, creative Brooklyn community she is part of.