YHBHS interview with Ben Blanc

"The bottoms where the interesting things start emerge and if you keep coming to the surface to check email, etc... you’ll never get there. Its the stuff that’s worth keeping that lives down there."

- Ben Blanc

photo by Stephanie Alvarez Ewens

What is behind your obsession with objects? What do your objects say about you, or the culture?

I think the obsession goes back to the need for clarity. My objects are a way of consolidating all the visual, and cultural material that is coming at me on a day to day basis. It can be crazy overwhelming. What ever that input is always returns as output. I have to be very careful and curate what I allow into my life because inevitably it will come back out in the objects. It’s something I really didn’t fully understand before. Its nearly impossible to separate the “junk info.” from the useful info, so I just work to try and keep the junk out. There’s something about this process and the physical objects that result that I obsess about. When I get it right, the objects are very clear place holders for these moments and are useful in providing some sense of this clarity.

Design philosophy?
Clarity of intent. Its so important to immerse yourself in something you find interesting. I heard someone say once “You have to go down deep...way deep, like a deep ocean submersible and when you get there you have to spend some time at the bottom.” I can’t remember where I heard this but its stuck with me for quite awhile now and I find it quite useful. The bottoms where the interesting things start emerge and if you keep coming to the surface to check email, etc... you’ll never get there. Its the stuff that’s worth keeping that lives down there.

What is the difference between "art" and "objects" to you? Art for me is the act of designing/making. Objects are the physical manifestations of the process.

The graphite light? Is this a prototype, or made in an edition?
It was made as a one-off piece. The idea behind it was to create geometric volumes through the use of simple line to represent the iconographic idea of a lamp. I find the visual flattening and un-flattening of this held space very interesting.

Do you fabricate this yourself? Yes, sometimes I fabricate the work, sometimes I work with outside sources. Really it’s a project by project decision. If the piece is about the “craft” then I fabricate it myself. In the case of the graphite light I made a model which was then scaled up and fabricated by a metal shop. This specific piece for example for me is not important how it was fabricated, the visual push and pull of space in relation to the user is what I find interesting.

What's the design scene living in Providence? Do you ever just get designed out? The city does proclaim itself to be the “creative capital,” its a fantastic stew of artisans, designers, makers, etc... Its a great place to work for sure. I’d say its driven more by the artisan though than design. Design is definitely being played out right now in a huge way and can be a bit suffocating at times so its nice to work in a community of both artisans and designers. I’m able to move in and out of each and in the end the environment pushes my work in new directions.

The you desk created. More of an object to be desired, or to be utilized? Are your objects sculptures first? How important is function to you?
Both... I find that line between pure desire and function really interesting. I’d say yes though, more and more my work is leaning toward sculpture, but function is such a lovely entry point into objects.

Any artists that you feel an affinity to, and for what reason?
Most recently I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at the Rauschenberg’s combines. His push and pull of space with material has always fascinated me. Bruce Nauman and Richard Tuttle are very interesting and I think Anish Kapoor is a fantastic source of inspiration.

Your Midwest background, how has this influenced how you work?
My work doesn’t reference the Midwest, but I was born there and it just feels like it’s a hugely important piece of the puzzle. One of those moments of clarity I’m on the hunt for I guess....

upcoming show in Boston for Ben Blanc
Location: Louis -- 60 Northern Avenue Boston, MA 02210
Opening Date: April 21st 6-9PM


photo by Stephanie Alvarez Ewens

Ben Blanc, founder of Ben Blanc Studio, is a designer and artist well versed in both craft design and production. His works have been exhibited at Salone Internazionale de Mobile in Milan, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, the Wood Turning Center in Philadelphia, Edith Gallery in Koln, Germany, Ohio Museum of Craft, the Max Lang and CITE Galleries in New York. His works have been featured in numerous design publications including the New York Times, Dwell, Metropolitan Home, MacAddict, Monument, Casa, and Elle Décor.

go to his site for more works....