In a world of economic downturn and financial misfortune, where do high-minded ideas of art and design fit in? Nicole Nadeau and Kameron Gad, co-creators of the KNS Design Collective, gave us their two cents on the matter over a lunch of Australian-style burgers and massive tin cups of latte, over at Ruby’s on Mott st. They design innovative one-off pieces, mainly home items and jewelry, that are created to make the user stop and reconsider their daily routines, as well as their place in the world as a whole. Their ideas are ridiculous and fun and intelligent, and if that isn’t enough, they’ve also been endorsed by a Real Housewife of New York.
SCV: Do you consider your work more as art or design for every day use?
KG: I think it’s all about the art of the everyday, creating a new awareness about the objects we use everyday and making you stop and think about the moment. We work on a lot of different scales, but it’s all about the same poetic line and the same idea we’re tying together.
NN: Yeah, all our products are very functional and usable, but they’re meant to kick people out of the comas they’re stuck in every day.
SCV: Who do you see using and buying your products/pieces?
KG: Right now we’re at a small scale and our pieces are one-offs, but we’d love to reproduce them at lots of levels. They’d be great at a dinner party, like the one on Real Housewives. We brought our ‘tableclothes’ as a gift and they had so much fun with them. We’d love to start production at a greater level and make our pieces accessible to more people.
NN: Something like the ‘tableclothes’ would even be fun at a kids’ party, it doesn’t have to be as exclusive as “art.”
SCV: You said your designs all follow the same basic idea. Can you define it?
KG: Well, we came together because we wanted to create things that involve the experience of using it, that emphasize the interactivity, so when you use it you’re in the moment, opening your eyes, getting away from the computer screen and interacting with people and objects.
NN: There are these rituals we do every day, we go out, we eat, and we’re focused on our every day grind. Our products and ideas are very experiential. Haha, is that a word? It’s all about the experience.
SCV: What are the biggest challenges for small designers right now?
KG: The economy! Lots of times larger designers will find smaller designers and maybe take on one of their pieces to produce, but now they’re hurting so bad they’re afraid of taking on risks. Large companies are going with safe ideas that they’re sure will sell, so smaller designers now have to find their own financing and means, and we have to do our own thing. It’s a lot more entrepreneurial.
SCV: I love that so many of your pieces are science- and math-inspired. When you create something new, do you come up with one of those concepts first and then figure out how to express it artistically?
KG: It’s actually a very fluid process. We like to call it “elegant geometry.” We want to make things that are engaging and intelligent at the same time.
NN: I think our inspiration comes from the environment. We want to make things that are relatable while making people think about how we connect to the global environment. We have a new jewelry series, the Topography series, that takes the scalability of large land formations and relates it to the scale of the body by shrinking down 3D representations of places like the Himalayas and putting them on bracelets or other items. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your life and forget that we exist in the same world with such amazing pieces of nature, and it’s quite humbling to be reminded of that. We’re working on a series with glaciers too, because we want to preserve the landscape of them before they melt away.
SCV: How do you complement each other in the creative process?
NN: It’s actually a kind of crazy story, we both went to Parsons at a certain point, and when I met Kameron, we were dating these guys that were working together on a project. I was talking to her about Parsons and it turns out that my thesis was the same as hers, but a year earlier, and hers was in architecture and mine was in product design. We took different approaches, but we both talked about advertising in public spaces, like new ways to bring art and media into the public real in a usable way. We became friends and decided we wanted to work together later.
KG: Yeah, it was really organic. We worked together on an exhibit and we had all these other pieces and ideas that seemed to fit together, and it started to grow. We formed the collective, and now we’re interested in finding people that find similar links in design and the world, and we’re trying to bring on other female designers with similar goals.