Nick Missel explores "cultural archeology" with silicone furniture at Design Miami/Los Angeles


Philadelphia-based artist Nick Missel exhibited a series of sculptural seats informed by scrap materials and working class survivalism at Design Miami’s 2024 Los Angeles edition.

Created with tactile appeal, Nick Missel’s collection of unique furniture objects were designed to explore malleable forms with textured surfacing.

Missel’s works were showcased alongside five other artists – Gulla Jónsdóttir, Justin Wesley, Feyza Kemahlioglu, Benjamin Gillespie, Gregory Nangle – at Wexler Gallery’s booth in Holmby Hills Estate specially for the inaugural edition of Design Miami/Los Angeles.

Alumation silver-coloured chair by Nick Missel
Nicki Missel has created a serious of sculptures as furniture objects at Design Miami/Los Angeles

The artist described his silicone sculptures as a form of “cultural archeology of the working class”.

I think there is a resilience and creativity that comes with the survival lifestyle of the working class, always doing more with less,” Missel told Dezeen. “I would collect random objects in the back of my truck, selling them for scrap so I could fund my early sculptures.”

This experience made me curious to find beauty in these things that sit on the periphery of our attention in everyday life, but have some kind of power to them as objects of opportunity,” he continued.

REM orange and purple stool by Nick Missel
Missel’s intricate works explore malleable forms with textured surfacing

His sculptures were produced through a process of layering pigmented silicone on bales of cardboard to create a thin shell.

When peeled off and inverted, “negative space” is revealed where the absence of the original object becomes the form and texture.

Informed by French-American painter Marcel Duchamp, Missel’s Infrathin pieces displays an array of colourful, hatch pattern cube seating using memory foam and his signature silicone casting technique.

Grayscale varieties were designed to be representative of the negative space concept.

Infrathin blue and green cube by Nick Missel
The colourful Infrathin cubes are made from silicone and memory foam

“When I look at a bale of cardboard I don’t just see waste, I see compressed moments of human existence that create new narratives,” said Missel.

“Boxes for diapers, avocados, appliances and compressed heaps of scrap metal tell a story of our lives, our memories, our hopes. Like photographs of the shadows of humanity.”

Alumation bronze-coloured stool
Alumation chairs and stools utilise scrap metal from car radiators

In addition, Missel’s Alumation pieces are sculptural chairs and stools made from aluminium belonging to car radiators and resin fibreglass.

The shiny metal has been cut, deconstructed and reconstructed into twisted forms with similar hatch pattern detailing.

Missel’s orange and purple hued REM pieces, titled after the rapid eye movement sleep state where most dreams happen, comprises painted objects made out of mattress egg crates also contorted and frozen with resin.

REM orange sculpture
The vibrant REM pieces features contorted mattress egg crates

“I find it interesting to think about the life cycles of material and how they could be a metaphor to our lives, and wonder what narrative someone might have for my works if they were to find them hundreds of years from now,” said Missel.

“Ultimately the objects I’m drawn to have some kind of larger global connection and impact, while falling in the category of the common. I don’t think I would be interested in something like marble, it’s too luxurious in an easy way.”

The photography is courtesy of Wexler Gallery.

Design Miami/Los Angeles took place from 16-20 May 2024 in Los Angeles, US. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.



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