Behind the Design: Chris Hardy
One of the things I like most about design is that people create new products and objects for reasons that run the gammut: from making something more functional, to using materials in unexpected ways, and translating ideas and notions into things we can enjoy on a daily basis.The brand new Wig Pendant by FontanaArte is a great example of the latter–Atlanta-based designer Chris Hardy was inspired by the individual elements that form a greater community when designing the sculptural piece.
Chris was lucky enough to let us pick his talented brain recently, sharing what inspires him, what’s important to him in design and the meaning behind the Wig, which was welcomed to rave reviews at least year’s Euroluce Light Fair in Milan. Check out a few highlights from our chat with Chris:
How did you get into design?
My father is an architect so ever since I was young, I was exposed to famous architecture and design. From there, I started spending a lot of time with art. As I got older I really started having a fascination with objects themselves—what they mean and why they existed. I merged the two and became an industrial designer.
What’s important to you in design?
I think it’s just to be honest and true to myself and what’s important to me. I want to express something in it and not just have a generic piece that’s just there to be there…to have a deeper meaning than for my own sake. I want to have something that I’m proud of and that people will respond to and have a connection with. I think that’s the most important for me.
Where do you find inspiration?
The things that I’m interested are usually around the idea of the human condition—how people relate to themselves or life experiences—something that doesn’t really have a visual form. I like to take something that has enough depth where I can create the visual representation of it. That will usually break me out of certain patterns or tendencies, and makes for a little bit more of an unexpected outcome. It is important to me to be open and observant of my surroundings because you never know when something will trigger an idea. Looking for inspiration feels like a never ending quest.
Is it common for many of your designs to have an underlying message?
I would like it to be. I don’t always have the opportunity to. The story helps people connect to it and understand why it looks the way it does and what your message is that you’re trying to get across to an audience. It makes a more valid design than just an object to look at or use. People respond to some sort of story that makes them think and gives them pause enough to look twice. It helps the audience connect on a more visceral level.
Where did the idea for the Wig Pendant come from?
This is actually a piece that I designed when I was in school in Hong Kong long about a year before any meeting with Fontana Arte. It was part of a bigger collection that was talking about the difference of cultures. The idea behind this aesthetic is how people relate to each other, especially in close knit societies. You have this form that’s made up of all these small forms. It’s how they relate to each other; how they see each other in the greater whole of this society.
I approached FontanaArte after an introduction hoping to show them my work and they ended up wanting to manufacture it. It doesn’t always work out so easily.
Is there a certain space you picture the Wig Pendant in use?
I think that’s up to the consumer, but I do believe that it is quite adaptable. With some pieces I do think about if it’s going to be commercial or residential, but not with the Wig. If I had the option to choose I would like to see it in an intimate setting, maybe over a dining table, where people are having a real, personal connection with each other just so it could be a part of their moment. But you know, I think it will add a lot of life and personality to any space you put it in.
What does your own home look like?
I would say it’s more minimal. But I do like a good mix of pieces. I like to mix contemporary pieces with mid-century Italian classics and also some antiques. I like to collect objects that I find interesting—little objects that tell a story about the designer or who used it.
If you could design anything, it would be ____________?
Of course I love lighting and furniture. As far as products, I think simple products for the home would be enjoyable. As I grow, I’m hoping to do something with interiors and architecture. I think my dream project would be to design and build a house for myself. That might be selfish, but I think that would be really fun.