New York-based artist Fernando Mastrangelo is best known for his collectible design pieces where he has perfected an art to binding salts, quartz crystals and resin to form the most beautiful sculpture and furniture. We spoke with the artisan and guru himself to learn more about his process and inspiration.
Tell us about how you got into Art + Design?
My primary education and background were in Art for over a decade before I was introduced to the Design world. As a kid, I wanted to be a painter and then I ended up taking a sculpture class in undergrad and continuing on to do my undergrad and MFA in sculpture. I think my art background gives me a unique vantage point because when designing an object I am able to think about it and look at it as a sculpture first and as a piece of furniture second. When I first started designing collections in 2016 the collectible design industry was, even more, niche than it is now and so I was one of the first in that conversation of bringing more and more conceptual, sculptural work to the industry.
Your work blurs the lines between practical design and art. How do you merge the two in the creation of your works?
I always approach my work conceptually first and then let the form and the materials be influenced by the concept. This allows the focus of the work to be the story or statement I am trying to make with a collection. It's the steadfast reverence for concept and meaning to lead the way in the process and to permeate every aspect of the piece, from form to function to fabrication to materials, that elevates it from fine furniture to art. It is my hope that we will continue to see more and more design that operates in this way.
Many of your works feature sand and salt as the primary materiality. When did your interest in these materials begin and how?
I've been using unique materials for my entire career, as both an artist and a designer. It's probably what I'm most known for at this point. Since my work is concept-driven, the materials are informed by that. The body of my work in design has explored themes of nature (the beauty of it, the fragility of it) and so using materials from the earth such as sand, salt, and silica was a natural progression (pun intended.) When the concept, form, and materials are all working together to convey a unified essence, that is when the work truly comes together and resonates. When those three aspects are in harmony, work can transcend and communicate all on its own, outside of you as the maker.
Tell us about what you are currently working on?
I can't say too much at all because it hasn't been officially announced, but I am working on a solo show for 2022 and I can't wait to share more soon!
What's next for Fernando Mastrangelo within the next 12 months?
Well, the solo show in 2022 is going to be the best show of my entire career. I can already tell. Beyond that, I am a judge on a design competition show on HBO Max, Ellen's Next Great Designer, and I'm looking forward to many more seasons of that. I really want to continue to champion collectible design through my own work and through all the collaborations that come into my path.