London-born, New York-based designer Anna Karlin creates an eclectic collection of lighting and furniture at the crossroads of art and design
“I’m always interested in the connection between the natural and the man-made and how we manipulate natural materials into objects for human consumption, albeit visually,” says designer Anna Karlin. “I think there is something very powerful when you manage to create an object that resonates with both the act of the human hand and nature, and/or humanity itself. It’s this tension that I find so interesting, and if you can capture it in the work it makes for a successful piece.”
A native of the UK, Karlin studied visual communication at Central Saint Martins and the Glasgow School of Art before becoming a self-taught product designer. Now in New York City, she renovated a burned-out, two-story building on the Lower East Side, by transforming the former print shop into a multipurpose workplace. One of her objectives was to give “people a chance to experience firsthand the types of spaces we can create,” she explains.
Karlin’s projects range from art direction and fashion shows to interiors, set design and fine jewelry. For her, “all forms of design should tell a story,” which is exactly what she aimed to achieve through her newest pieces of lighting and furniture from the Subverting Domestic Familiarity collection. “We have a fundamental need for familiarity or to be surrounded by natural forms,” says Karlin. “Where there is fragility, there is strength.
“Where there is fragility, there is strength. Where there is disequilibrium, there is balance. Where there is vulnerability, there is support. The works are a visual interpretation of these emotional paradigms that exist in our everyday lives.” Karlin’s creative process always starts with sketches and consists of eliminating and expanding simultaneously. “Then when I find something I feel has legs, I unconsciously keep going and going re-drawing, remodeling an idea—by that time I know it’s something I want to explore more and the work develops from there,” she says.
Pushing further the concept of usable sculpture, the collection’s new, soft-toned pieces are poetic and visually strong at the same time. “I always start with shape and form and then the materials flow from that, so I am never limited in what I use,” Karlin adds. “I develop, test and explore as I need to for each work. The colorways are approached in the same way as my material usage.
There is always a right answer and that unfolds as the design does.” Now represented internationally by design galleries in different countries, and with some of her pieces adorning buildings and homes all over the world, Karlin continues to grow and will soon reveal residential projects in her adopted city.
Photographs: Courtesy Of Anna Karlin