Josh Owen‘s designed Menorah ismade of solid cast iron and has the strength expected of such a material. The weight gives it a sense of solidity and self worth, like a trusted tool found on a family farm. There is an honesty in the singularity of the iron material which suggests this object could age and continue to look even more beautiful as it acquires a patina from continual use.
It has an incorporated plate which catches the drippings from the candles and provides a safe resting place for a used match while it is still hot.
The work of industrial designer and educator Josh Owen is at once simple, practical and creative. Although typologies that Owen creates are commonly described as refined, iconic or minimalist, he defines function in humanistic terms, combining clarity of purpose and functional efficacy with emotive and tactile qualities chosen to align strategically with industry.
Availabe online AUD $250.00 at dedeceplus.com — click here
About Josh Owen
Josh Owen was born in the United States in 1970.
The son of an archaeologist, he spent the summers of his youth on excavations in the Middle East.
Owen holds a BFA in Sculpture and a BA in Visual Studies from Cornell University and an MFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has also studied at Tel Aviv University and Cornell University’s program in Rome.
In 1998 Owen established his design studio, Owenlogik in Philadelphia, PA.
He continues to practice in Philadelphia and is currently the president of Josh Owen LLC. After teaching as an adjunct professor for several years, he became an assistant professor of industrial design at Philadelphia University in 2001.
In 2002, he was the youngest designer to be included in the critically acclaimed “American Design, 1975-2000” at the Denver Art Museum. In 2003, Owen was recognized by Surface Magazine as one of the most avant-garde industrial designers in the U.S. As a result, his work was celebrated and exhibited in that year’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, Italy and at the ICFF in New York City.
In 2004 he was included in The MoMA’s Design Encyclopedia and in 2005 the monograph “Josh Owen: Big Ideas / Small Packages” was published by Woodsphere. In 2008 Owen was named the Craig R. Benson Chair for Innovation at Philadelphia University and began teaching as a lecturer in the graduate department of architecture at The University of Pennsylvania.
His studio’s client list stretches from Philadelphia and New York City to Canada and Italy including such notables as Benza, Bozart, Casamania, Kikkerland, and Umbra.
Owen’s work is included in the permanent design collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Musee des beaux-arts de Montreal, the Denver Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Chicago Athenaeum. His work has been featured in major exhibitions, numerous books on design and is regularly included in critical design discourse.
The work of designer and educator Josh Owen is at once, simple, practical and creative. Although the typologies that Owen creates are commonly described as refined, iconic or minimalist, he defines function in humanistic terms.
Interview with Josh Owen ( via Wilsonart) 12th March 2010
How do you describe what you do to people who know nothing about design?
I use the comparison of being a family doctor (my wife is one of those). I commonly tell people that she attempts to make people better for the world and that I attempt to make the world we build better for people. For me this is a far better way to start at a cocktail party than to equate myself with being a maker of beautiful things. For most people there is too much baggage with that line of discussion.
For example, I often look to make modifications to existing typologies that allow for more fluid and elegant interactions with objects that populate our environments and help with the choreography of our lives. If one can live together with my tools longer and better than with others, then I feel I have provided a service. For example, my knock-down furniture for Casamania addresses something I call the mid-life crisis of objects. When one begins to invest in medium-end furniture, this is the time when people often transition from place to place. These furniture types knock-down easily with little hardware and transport flatly, therefore extending the probability of survival over the long-term. So, to answer this question, the revelation for the uninitiated is linked to the utility, which goes beyond the more obvious function of “coatrack” or “coffee table”.
Why did you become a designer?
My father is an archaeologist, so I grew up surrounded by archeology and artifacts. In college I studied sculpture and anthropology because I have been fascinated by the objects we (as humans) surround ourselves with ever since I was a small boy. I’ve never been able to separate my curiosity about utility and my desire to solve the problems of our physical existence in elegant ways. As soon as I turned this activity around and began to populate my own world with objects (probably around age 3 or 4), I suppose I began to be a designer.
After university, I enrolled in RISD’s furniture design masters program and I suppose it was there that I consummated the relationship with the title “designer”, but to be honest I’ve been a designer since I was very small. It was only after realizing that my activities as a sculptor and as an anthropologist could better be understood as design that I put that title on my card.
What is a design issue you feel very passionate about?
Clarity. In terms of issues, it would be easy for me to say “ecology” or “utility” or something like that but I honestly feel that design itself should be a lens through which all things are weighed, considered, explored and ultimately focused. We have a responsibility to make intelligent contributions to the world and that is a complex job with lots more initiatives to sort out than a singular aspect can qualify. To say that I’m this kind of designer or that kind is a marketing pitch to the group that you want to affiliate with in order to get more jobs of that type. In my opinion, a designer works within constraints and can offer a clear vision that is inclusive. I would not want to get on a soapbox about a singular issue that brands me as a type.
You are a professor of design as well as a practicing designer. What benefit do you get from teaching?
To me being an educator is the ultimate act of social responsibility. Each day at the university I bring my experiences as a professional to bear on my students. It shapes their perceptions about the real world and makes them better prepared for it. I enjoy working with students; they bring fresh, contemporary eyes to the world and I sleep soundly at night knowing that I give everything I have to them so that they can navigate the complexities that they will encounter. And they challenge me! So I stay sharp. It is immensely gratifying.
If you could change one thing about the practice of design what would it be?
I’m too much of a realist to answer that.