Designing with Movement in Mind
A passion project, turned nationally-recognized design shop.. Artish is the brilliant brain-child of Abby Ross and Courtney Evans. With a focus on playful furniture pieces, this dynamic duo has perfected their approach of incorporating people’s desire for change and personal expression into the design and function of each object they create.
Artish Studio’s design philosophy is: form, function, and play. Do you believe that a playful mindset is necessary for the creative process?
Playful, experimental, open-minded, desiring change – whatever you want to call it. But yes, we do think that type of mindset is necessary for the creative process. What really drives our process the most is that we feel a lot of people who aren’t in creative professions want an outlet to express themselves. That’s why our designs are interactive, with many combinations, and built with movement and change in mind, so that they get to bring their own creativity and ideas to the products.
Where do you think the design industry still has room to grow?
The opportunity is in designing products that assist the creative process for people. Especially during the pandemic, people are spending more time in their home spaces and they’re tired of staring at the same things every day. They want art and furniture that isn’t static, that they can change and that makes them feel like they put their own fingerprint on it. They want to be able to say ‘look what I created’ just like we as designers get to do.
Of all the different “creative hats” that you’ve worn, which one fits the best? How do your experiences outside of the design world inform your perspective in the realm of product design?
I do digital marketing in corporate America as my day job and interior design on the side. And Courtney owns and runs an architectural fabrication business. So Artish is a second job – albeit a passion job – for both of us. I find that doing this daily “practical” work helps me to be immediately creative and clear when I sit down to design and create. And our skills of marketing, interiors and fabrication all intersect perfectly in the form of Artish. We see so many new ideas and synergies come out of this intersectionality.
What are some surprising places you look for inspiration?
Travel and visiting modern architecture in different countries is a big inspiration for us. But during the pandemic, where travel has been limited, we’ve found inspiration in the materials themselves. For example, our Tombstone table is made from Dakota Mahogany granite that is used to make tombstones. And we really wanted to experiment with metals and alloys like copper and brass so we created the Besties tables, which are based on the concept of a best friends necklace, fitting together at the base to form a perfect connection.
A collaboration of both you and Courtney Evans of Tactile, Artish has a very distinct design aesthetic. How much of that is influenced by each of your personal styles?
We each bring complementary skills to the design studio. Courtney is an insider – with formal architecture and industrial engineering training. And I’m more of an outsider – self trained in interior design and then formally trained in graphic design and digital marketing. We each work on the design ideation together, coming up with the collection concepts, materials we want to use, colors, etc. Courtney manages the fabrication. And I manage the marketing. We truly appreciate each other’s different skillsets and have talked many times about how we couldn’t be doing this without each other.
Your product line is a beautiful mix of materials and colors, do you think solid surface could lend anything to your designs? Are there any attributes, such as thermoformability, that would offer new creative opportunities?
Absolutely! We work primarily in aluminum and steel but solid surface can be molded in ways that those materials can’t be. Its materiality allows for more forms than the current materials we’re working with do – instead of a folded plane, it’s an extruded solid – so it’s going to open the door to different shapes and forms for us. Plus we like the idea of combining solid surface with metal to create a lovely juxtaposition of textures and materials.
If you could design any furniture or installation piece, no budget or client to consider, what would it be?
We’d love to design an urban bath house, complete with sexy curved solid surface communal soaking tubs and pools. Water is a healer and we all need some healing right now.
Is there anything new cooking up in the Artish kitchen? We’d love to plug a project or two!