Orson Oxo Van Beek x Aaron Blendowski
11 May 2021
Pillow Talk is the latest concept from COLLECTIBLE In-Depth. This new series of articles instigates design encounters in a playful setting. The idea is simple: we pair designers from the Curated Section and each duo then freely chooses three questions to ask to each other. They can tackle any subject, within the realm of design - or not! Today’s duo is Orson Oxo Van Beek and Aaron Blendowski.
Aaron Blendowski: Is there a specific experience in life or a project that you worked on personally or professionally that you feel shaped you, changed you in a way that you did not expect. What was the project, and what did you gain from it?
Orson Oxo Van Beek: It's hard to pick just one experience, as I believe it's the course of events that have shaped me, or instance, my education, the people I’ve met and surround myself with, the exhibitions I visit, and so on. To pick one that stands out: I did an internship within a scenographic studio based in New York for a period of six months. This experience changed my state of mind and perspective towards design.
“What tends to interest me within a body of work is to feel the spirit and effort of the artist, to be able to notice the thought-through decisions, the joy of creating, and a distinct identity”
AB: What do you feel is at stake in your work for the audience, what do you want to resonate with someone after experiencing your work?
OOVB: What tends to interest me within a body of work is to feel the spirit and effort of the artist, to be able to notice the thought-through decisions, the joy of creating, and a distinct identity. In this way, I was happy to read of your approach to projects, where you like to dive into a character to develop projects. This approach is something I admire a lot and is something I endeavour within my own projects.
AB: The more I thought about the theme of the curated section "tension" the more I realized it is everything around us, we just have different names for it. How do you see the idea of "tension" connecting to your work?
OOVB: Tension isn't a matter that is visible within my work but more in my thought process while approaching personal projects. My body of work is mostly objects driven, whereas my freelance work is more in the range of spatial design in the form of interior and scenography. The connection of both creates tension towards my design process as this alters my perspective.
Orson Oxo Van Beek: I’m fascinated by your sentence in which you state that you are like a method actor and get into character for each project. How do you conceptualize these characters and did you have a character in mind for the work you are presenting at Collectible 2021?
Aaron Blendowski: It is less about a character and more about a mindset that I try to remain in for the work. The objects become a consequence of the mindset I am in. Specifically, the piece of work “From the Dark. (Sublime viewfinder)” from my Voyager Series tries hard to be something unimaginable, other-worldly or naturally occurring and extra-terrestrial. But, ironically ends up being a candle to the sun. Some of my mindsets and methods are very human and are about being human while others are trying to be more perceptive of how humans might be viewed by other life.
“ It can be difficult at times to ignore the past fifteen years of experience I have gained, that takes discipline, that discipline is something I have always tried to impart and share with my students.”
OOVB: As you are a maker at heart, I’m assuming you developed a passion for materials and their different tactilities. What are some of the materials you like to work with, and how do you feel about new materials developed by new technologies?
AB: I do have a passion for materials, and processes, I can’t get enough. Almost to the point where it becomes a problem sometimes. Recently I’ve been combining CNC milling and Analog hand processes, basically, creating milled 3D canvases that get hand carved, coated with a skin and painted. I am really excited for the future of material sciences and finding access to new materials for my own practice. Being trained in sculpture, craft and industrial design scrambled my material sensibilities, sometimes I am a purist, other times I want to transform material as far as I can from its original state.
OOVB: Having experienced being a teacher for 10 years, how did that influence your work and approach to projects? Did you find inspiration in the works of your students?
AB: Most of all, it has reinforced a longstanding philosophy I adopted about having a beginners mind or “Shoshin.” This has allowed me to have an attitude of openness, enthusiasm, and lack of assumptions regarding my process or research. Even when I approach a new or complex facet to my work, I come at things the same as a beginner would. It can be difficult at times to ignore the past fifteen years of experience I have gained, that takes discipline, that discipline is something I have always tried to impart and share with my students.
About Aaron Blendowski (US)
Aaron Blendowski produces work that ranges from functional sculpture to two-dimensional graphics in his studio located in the heart of Detroit’s Eastern Market. He finds inspiration from this diverse community, that encompasses both old and new – ranging from bustling with industry and commerce to a quiet ghost town on off days. The growth and transition of his environment informs larger questions about the human condition; where we came from? What are we doing here? Where are we going?
About Orson Oxo Van Beek (The Netherlands)