We've seen a lot of furniture designers in our Meet the Maker series lately, so it's nice to take a look at the work of ceramicist Ben Medansky. Having worked with other artists, like The Haas Brothers and Kelly Lamb, Ben is now focusing on his own pieces, which range from sculptural to functional.
Name/Location: Ben Medansky/Glassell Park, Los Angeles
Where did you grow up? Scottsdale, AZ
Where did you study/train? The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
What was the first thing you made and sold? I used to apprentice for a glass blower and was commissioned to make 500 paperweights.
Who is your design idol? I have always looked up to Peter Shire and the Memphis school. Their constant play with design vs. art and function vs. non function has led the way for this new generation of makers who believe in creating unique objects that don't need definition. I was lucky enough to work with Peter last summer in his studio and learned a lot about being an artist/designer, most importantly not to lose track of what makes you happy.
Where do you find inspiration? I gain lots of energy from going on long car trips that bring me to new experiences. The material landscape we dwell in that is constantly performing a subtle eroticism. Dependence on process. The loop. The hoop. The hang. The suspended. The relaxed. The draped. The drooped. The slumped. The sag. The lean. The tilt. Aesthetics of failure. Elements of chance. A contained mess. The realization that we hold the value of aesthetic currency in our hands.
What’s one thing you wish YOU had made or designed? Silly Putty. The best accidental invention ever. Period.
What’s your advice for a designer/maker just starting out? It is very important to keep producing anything, don't just leave it in your head. I also think it's great to collaborate with your friends and to make new friends through collaboration. It's a win-win.
To see more of Ben's work, check out his website: Ben Medansky.
(Images: Ben Medansky and Shahana Khan)