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This New Project Celebrates Student and Self-Taught Designers
Open Studio was born out of a desire to expand the conversation of design as galleries and schools close their doors indefinitely
By Zoë Sessums
October 14, 2020
It's a challenging time to be a student right now as the important elements of in-person interactions are canceled or limited. Add in an art school element where openings and physical events are critical, and the struggle only increases. So late last month when Open Studio Volume 1 debuted, we felt some hope in the air.
Hosted by design curators Pink Essay and design incubator Lichen, the concept is an in-person and online exhibit of student and self-taught furniture and object designers. “We are at a milestone moment in the history of design,” say David Eardley and Anna Theroux Ling, the cocreators of Pink Essay, in the website mission statement. “While we look to the past for knowledge and understanding, we know that the most important work will happen in the upcoming years, as the design community grows beyond tradition and exclusivity to value accessibility, representation, and conversation. We’re excited by the volume of fascinating work coming from the fresh eyes of new designers, and hopeful for the world they can help bring about.”
We spoke with Anna (left) and David (right) about how Open Studio came to be. Here they are among the works at Open Studio's debut event.
“The idea came from a conversation Anna Ling and I had with Jared Blake and Ed Be (owners of Lichen) in January about creating a space for students and designers in training to share their work in a celebratory way and in a gallery-type space,” says David. “We then realized that we really missed the presence of printed work in Pink Essay, and that we wanted to create an accompanying publication that would also work as a beautiful print people could hang on their walls, designed by Julianna Santolucito. Pink Essay and Lichen are both focused on rethinking the idea of what the design community can be, and this was our tribute to that mission.”
“The outcome of Open Studio Volume 1 was so eye-opening, and makes me very excited to do more that involves community.” says Anna. “Making it more accessible and engaging for everyone is a big goal. Doing it in a space like Lichen was also an amazing and rewarding way to grow the community and make a bridge between an independent business and designers.”
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If you want to stay inspired by the design world right now, we'd recommend following these up-and-coming designers and waiting patiently for Open Studio Volume 2. For now, here's Issue 1.
“We are really lucky to have an incredible audience of talented designers in our online community, and our open call resulted in over 100 designers submitting more than 250 pieces, which we narrowed down to 20,” says David. “Since we didn’t charge a fee to submit, it helped to make sure anyone who was interested could be considered.” Here is a poster of the pieces from Volume 1.