Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Last month in Miami, the high-end natural material purveyor ARCA opened its Wynwood doors to debut a collaborative collection designed by Kelly Wearstler. Named "NUDO," it encompassed 16 furniture pieces and six accessories made of marble that wound Wearstler's imagination into new shapes and sizes. This time, that was a selection of oversized knots.
To start, Wearstler hoped to bring a new perspective to stone and express a sense of unity. She returned to a point of constant inspiration, found within the sculptural textile works of the American artist Sheila Hicks, as well as in the historical craft of weaving. Starting from a solid piece of stone, each piece was then carved by robotic arms and fine-tuned by hand. Produced in four different countries, "NUDO" exercised the complexity of artisanal craft in dialogue with high-tech capabilities.
For the presentation, the large pieces were perched atop soft carpet and surrounded by lush drapery, guiding guests through an emotional show of design. To hear how this collaboration was sparked and why the soul of space guides her projects, Whitewall spoke with Wearstler.
WHITEWALL: Where did you begin with the design of "NUDO"?
KELLY WEARSTLER: I wanted to bring a new perspective to stone and express a message of unity—so we began with exploring knots and interconnected fibers. Grounding the collection in an age-old craft, we were then able to expand upon that history and the intricacy that comes with weaving through incredible technology and engineering.
WW: These pieces blend your vision and ARCA's state-of-the-art craft and manufacturing techniques. How were these physically made?
KW: Each piece of the collection began as a block of solid stone. From there, the works were carefully carved using robotic arms, then fine-tuned and completed by hand. We had them produced in four different countries depending on the complexities of the design.
WW: "NUDO" explores the beauty of natural stone, showing the hard material as a soft, sculptural piece. Why did the ancient craft of weaving inspire these pieces?
KW: I drew upon Sheila Hicks, who is a long-time creative inspiration of mine. The size of her works calls the viewer to hone in on the intricacies of the knots and fibers in a bold way. Adjacent to her approach, I wanted to underscore the interconnected construction of knots in an unsuspecting material.
WW: The sculptures show similarities in aesthetics to interconnected fibers. How are you thinking about interconnectivity today?
KW: Design, fashion, art, technology, and music, all speak to one another in such a vital way. It is very much a part of my process to blend these various sources of inspiration. Social media and turbo-charged brand collaborations have made all of these genres so much more accessible to different audiences. It's on full display in Miami during Art Week.
WW: Of the presentation with ARCA, you said it was "an expression of what binds us together, as the world converges in Miami to celebrate art and design” What do you feel binds us together?
KW: Artistic expression and design unite people from all walks of life. The emotions it elicits cut to the heart of the human experience, and transcends time and place.
WW: How would you describe your creative practice today?
KW: The tension between the digital and physical realms, merging technology and hand-craft are very much at the center of our process right now.
WW: Your practice is known for its provocative concepts and expressive narratives. How has it evolved over the years?
KW: I’m always reaching to find inspiration beyond convention. My designs have continued to evolve because I stay curious.
WW: What are some key ways you create multi-layered, sensorial experiences in your design work? How do you tie them together?
KW: It all begins with location, architecture, and materiality. We’re always looking for expressive ways to make the most of any space and exploring different elements to engage in dialogue. Every project is so unique and inspiring.
WW: Currently, you're designing for a new age of elevated residential hotel living. Can you tell us about that?
KW: The hotels we’re designing for Proper have become important to the local communities as well as travelers. Our design is a direct response to the provenance, the architecture, and the people that live in the vicinity. These spaces are both celebratory and transportive.
WW: You're the author of five design books. How would you synopsize what good design is?
KW: Good design considers all of the contextual fabric, the soul of a place. Without this grounding, you could be anywhere, and risk creating something formulaic.
WW: What are you looking forward to in 2023?
KW: I’m looking forward to further expanding my online gallery in the new year with pop-up exhibitions. We currently represent ten artists and plan to introduce new works with the existing roster and introduce new faces.