Bailey Fontaine

Rising Talent - September 2019

Hall 6

“I’m probably the one hundred thousandth designer to say I’m inspired by natural formations”

When Bailey Fontaine arrived in New York after studying product design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he soon discovered straight lines creeping into his work. “I’m probably the one hundred thousandth designer to say I’m inspired by natural formations,” the 23-year-old, who grew up in small-town Connecticut explained. But he is also the millionth to be influenced by the world that surrounds him, including the rigorous geometries of his adopted megalopolis.

What set you on your current course of making design that is collectible art?

I thought it might be hard to be artistic and make money, but while I was in school at the Art Institute of Chicago studying design, I found this wonderful niche world of sculptural furniture. I decided to pursue it as heavily and intensively as I could. Material investigation has taken this chokehold on my process. I guess that’s a bad word for it. Let’s just say it’s very enlightening.

You do supple, unexpected things with harsh urban materials like rusted metal and cement; in the end, they feel organic. Where does that impulse come from?

Looking at William Morris and loving his philosophy of not trying to mimic nature because nature’s going to do that better than you will. He advised taking the patterns that inspired you and making them your own thing.

How has working for Fernando Mastrangelo influenced your design?

I fabricate all my own work myself, and a lot what I do is pushing that, trying to make something a little harder than usual for me. At my day job I’m making things that are crazy, so doing a cement dining table after hours? Why not?

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