The designers behind AMMA Studio explain the symbiotic relationship between furniture and sculpture.
Last Friday, PSFK’s editorial team snuck out of the office early to check out the designs on display at Sight Unseen OFFSITE, a two-story raw warehouse space in Soho that showcased pieces from both established brands and design studios new to the scene. Amidst the deluge of angular, hanging decor and seemingly unexplainable wooden basketball hoops, AMMA Studio’s crystalline furniture called to us. With end tables whose insides seem to have been scooped out and replaced with sparkling geodes, the entire collection makes elegant use of atypical materials like Illy coffee grounds, BB gun bullets, and pink Himalayan salt. The masterminds behind the just-launched line, sculptor Fernando Mastrangelo and interior designer Samuel Amoia, spoke with PSFK about their cutting edge approach to furniture and design, the sculptural qualities inherent to furniture, and the importance of unconventional methods.
How did you two connect, and what was the inspiration behind the launch of AMMA Studio?
Samuel Amoia: We met through our good friend Tali Jaffe (of Cultured Magazine) who was writing a feature on each one of us for the Fall issue. We both had the same language and approach to both of our practices – my interior work and Fernando’s sculpture work. We met and I had a piece I wanted to make for a client. It was for 1 Hotel & Homes in Miami, the brand is all about nature and uncomplicated living. We came up with a conceptual design for an organic formed bar made of rock salt and blue cement top. I featured [the piece] in my Elle Decor Showhouse during Art Basel and we had a massive response. In early 2014, we decided to collaborate and do this collection. We were inspired by nature and geometry to create organic and modern forms out of innovative (but natural) materials that have never been contextualized before in furniture design.
What design principles do both sculpture and furniture rely on? In what ways do they differ?
Fernando Mastrangelo: Sculpture and design both rely on an immediate physical and visual impact, this draws the viewer to engage with the work. Once the viewer is seduced by the object, he can begin to process the conceptual rigor of the work, which is hopefully as impactful as the visual component.
The way they differ is that a bench is a bench in design, and a bench as sculpture is sometimes more than just a bench, it can be more philosophical, or more esoteric. Design can be more straightforward at times.
No matter if it’s design or sculpture, ultimately we’re attempting to create language that engages both visually and conceptually. And always making sure to seduce the viewer through visual impact.
Why did you choose these unconventional materials – like coffee grounds and Himalayan salt – to use in your designs? Why not just rely on traditional materials like wood and metal?
Samuel Amoia: Fernando has been casting sculpture out of those materials for years. So it was very intriguing and interesting to bring that method and practice to furniture design. I love to use simple but bold clean lines and proportions in my work. We are both very keen on texture as well. It was a perfect union to blend these organic materials into modern and strong but totally functional furniture forms.
How are the materials used in the creation of each piece? Could you explain the casting process in more detail?
Fernando Mastrangelo: The materials are used in the final casting process of the piece. We typically sculpt a form for the organic pieces or make wood molds for anything geometric. Once the molding process is complete, we use a trademarked patented process that uses epoxy to bind the natural materials and cast the final pieces.
In what ways do you see the furniture design landscape shifting?
Samuel Amoia: To be honest, we are not really sure! We are fully focused and committed to finding innovative and creative ways to approach furniture design. So we will have to get back to you in a few months on that one!
Thanks, Sam and Fernando!