• Artist Editions: 6 Young Artists You Should Be Collecting, According to Clever

    Urban Outfitters’ Artist Editions is an ongoing series of original designs from independent and emerging artists. Urban Outfitters has partnered with Architectural Digest’s digital channel, Clever—a destination for the design-obsessed seeking creative solutions for their small space—to work with six young artists from across the country on a collection ranging from upholstered furniture, to ceramic decorative objects, to shag pillows and woven rugs.

    Words by Katja Vujic

    Aside from the obviousness of our name, here at Clever we pride ourselves on discovering designs full of the unexpected, full of innovation, full of feelings that make us swoon. When we highlight artists on our site, we want the goods—interesting shapes, sustainable sensibilities, and maybe a little side of weirdness. Just because you have a smaller space doesn’t mean it can’t be saturated with character and beautiful objects. Collaborating with Urban Outfitters’ Artist Editions program gave us a chance to show off a small collection of original designs from some of our favorite artists making pieces right now—which are all so incredibly Clever. 

    Learn more about the six featured makers: 

    Elise McMahon of design studio Likeminded Objects works with Mother Nature in mind. Her inventive, colorful designs remain sleek while keeping sustainability at the forefront, whether recycling fast-fashion waste or reusing car parts. “Caring about the earth should just be a part of, I feel like, every designer’s practice,” she says. For her UO x Clever collection, she’s producing chairs upholstered with bleached denim from discarded blue jeans that were collected from a nonprofit in Ghana. “I’ve become way more interested in what it looks like to manufacture ethically, and have things be able to become multiples without being harmful objects,” says Elise. She also wanted to cater to the nomadic generation she’s a part of, making pieces that can easily move with you. And she’s using bright primary colors to help create more playful, personal spaces. “Color is a way of bringing people in and including them faster.”
    Photography by Heidi Lee

    Joseph Algieri, in both his work and his disposition, radiates fun. In 2016, the 29-year-old designer abruptly quit an office job that was making him miserable to open an independent studio at his friend’s ceramics company. Since then, he’s been working nonstop, primarily with ceramics and foam, with recent forays into fiberglass, to make art and home goods that are big and bright, usually featuring soft textures and sharp colors. Joe’s artistic process often starts with photography. In his studio, he keeps ’70s-era cookbooks, long out of print, which feature dramatically lit photos of mildly disgusting microwave meals; he finds them both hilarious and inspiring. “There’s so much tension and energy, and because it’s all shot on film, everything had to be perfect,” he says. “It’s the nicest cracked egg, and in the perfect light, and that kind of preparation, that sort of delivery really gets me going.” He also keeps construction books around, including one devoted entirely to brick—he likes making his own joints and parts. 
    Photography by Heidi Lee

    The rugs, throws, and other textiles crafted by Katherine Entis of Soft Century feel just as much like fine art as they do a cozy thing you want to sink your toes into or snuggle up with. Her work combines traditional weaving methods with modern design for a result that feels invitingly fresh. The 28-year-old designer grew up influenced by both the fine art and digital art worlds, with a mother who is a painter and a father in video game design. Art was always a big part of her life, but so were other interests: reading, writing, history. It wasn’t until she decided to study at RISD that her life’s commitment to fine art was solidified. She started there as an illustrator, but moved into textile design after being blown away by a senior showcase from that area of study. Her designs for UO x Clever are inspired by Isamu Noguchi’s famed Atlanta playscape sculptures. She’s working with artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico, for her throws, and after visiting their workshop and seeing the tapestry weaving they were doing, she came home and redesigned her entire collection. Katherine wanted her designs to accommodate those techniques, ultimately resulting in a more graphic, flattened language.  
    Photography by Kennett Mohrman

    Leonard Cordell Bessemer’s furniture design studio, Objects for Objects, originated with customized furniture pieces—plinths, boxes, shelves—intended primarily to display other objects, like a plant or small sculpture. His pieces combine sleek, curvy shapes with bright colors or soft gradients, for an aesthetic language that is both soothing and minimalist. His route to founding Objects for Objects was a meandering one. He entered Cal Poly in 2001 as an engineer, and left in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in studio art. After graduating, he spent a few years in Berlin working for sculptor David Thorpe. It was in Thorpe’s studio that he learned a lesson he would come to value immensely. “One thing we arrived at was to make things as good as we could, but to still allow for the human hand in the work, to value that you could tell something was made by a person and by hand,” says Leonard. “I think that influence is still why my assistant and I do all the work in house. There will always be little things that let you know how something was made, and they shouldn’t be seen as flaws, but symbols that a lot of effort was put into the creation of the piece by the maker.”
    Photography by Ye Rin Mok

     In a design landscape that tends to favor the minimalist “less is more” agenda, Mansi Shah’s “Less is a bore” motto, a phrase coined by Robert Venturi, stands out in her designs. Using primarily ceramics and glass, Mansi’s playful accent pieces are sure to spice up any space: She offers up bright, wavy hand mirrors and not-too-structured tabletop objects that reflect and refract colorful rays. Much of her work has been inspired by Indian textiles and handicrafts, and she also cites the Memphis Group and Peter Shire—who she works for part-time as a studio assistant—as significant influences. She’s long admired Peter as an art world jack-of-all-trades. “I really aspire to do work like that,” says Mansi. “I don’t want to be pigeonholed into any one category. I want to have my hands in everything.” Restless in nature, she needs to be constantly learning new skills and ways of making. Both ceramics and glass are excellent media for that reason, she says: There’s plenty of room to advance. But Mansi also hopes to learn woodworking and eventually try her hand at making furniture. As long as she’s working with her hands, she’s happy. 
    Photography by Ye Rin Mok

    Sally Rizzoli loves plywood. She loves it for the look, the exposed layers, the ease of use. It doesn’t warp, and you don’t have to mill it down. It doesn’t need to be run through a jointer or a planer. “It just is solid and straight and does what you want,” says the 29-year-old designer behind Brooklyn-based furniture and homeware studio Pezzi, vowing that, as of two years ago, plywood is the only material she wants to work with. Her plywood creations prioritize simplicity and utility: Most of her ideas come from the things she finds herself needing in her own small Brooklyn apartment. She also keeps in mind the frequency with which her generation migrates from city to city, apartment to apartment, taking the time to design pieces that are flat-packable. “Sometimes that’s a challenge,” she says, “and it can take me a year or a year and a half to figure out how to make something structurally sound that also can come apart.” She makes an effort to include both larger investment pieces and smaller items you might give as a gift. “If you can spend $50 or you can spend $400, there’s an item that you can find. That’s something I always try to keep in mind: Can someone my age buy this? Or is it totally out of reach for most people?”
    Photography by Heidi Lee

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