While many of us have succumbed to LOL’ification, fauxbrievations and snapchat communiques to have a conversation, artists Christian Lopez Swafford and Lauren Larson of Material Lust are tapping into ancient human languages to manifest and communicate their art.
You could call it furniture, but once you see Material Lust’s work it’s clear what a vast oversimplification that is. Their art is the altar to which you pray, your living room sanctum and the ancient totems of humanity re-imagined for the modern age.
You have described yourselves as “artists masquerading as designers.” Do you think the two things mutually exclusive?
Christian: Artists are treated with more reverence, it takes sacrifice to be an artist and it draws upon your personal experiences, it’s maybe more selfish. You might be at a dinner party and if you say to someone I am an artist, they will immediately ask, What gallery are you in? Who represents you? It’s their way of figuring out if you are a successful artist. Design on the other hand is prone to trends, geared towards selling. Art is the pinnacle. We use design as a medium to create art.
Have we reached peak stuff?
Christian: I teach and I tell my students all the time, you need to prove to me why this design deserves to exist! Otherwise it is just more stuff in a world so packed with things people don’t need. If you come and feel one of our pieces of work, it’s heavy, it’s thick, it’s raw. People recognize the quality there. It’s not something that you would buy at Target that is destined for a landfill.
What makes you uncomfortable?
Christian: Sometimes there are some extremely affluent people dropping crazy amounts of money on single pieces in galleries. Admittedly, we are opening a gallery like annex on the Lower East Side, but this still makes us feel strange. We prefer to redistribute the wealth to fellow artists and artisans..it just feels like the disparity of wealth is such a waste of resources.
Lauren: There is also so much trend hopping, and people have to know when they jump on an artistic trend they need to accept they and their art is going to DIE and then they will have nothing. It’s ignoring where you stand in the historical timeline and regurgitating the ideas that have been done thousands of times before.
Christian: I hate renderings. People are putting up renderings on their Instagrams to get likes. You need to go through the process of building something to resolve all the problems that come along the way. Otherwise it’s design by committee and a painting painted by committee would just be a piece of shit.
How do rituals make their way into Material Lust’s work?
Christian: When we developed the Geometry of God collection, Lauren was redrawing hundreds of runes, hieroglyphs and ancient pagan symbols to figure out how to transfer a 2D drawing done in a notebook into a 3D form.
Lauren: It was a subconscious meditative state for me. I was looking at this ancient language, then trying to turn it into furniture. We’re hermits and and our relationship is part of the process of our work and sometimes we might fight over something that then defines the end result. That is sort of a ritual. We really live for creating, I don’t really see the reason to keep living without it. We eat, sleep, and breathe this. Often, I am like, hey, you’re talking to me, but really I am thinking about my work.
Your work seems to be a focal point or centerpiece. Is each piece planned this way?
Lauren: Why we named ourselves Material Lust is that we wanted people to HAVE TO HAVE our work. We want you to feel an overwhelming lust toward it.
Material Lust launches their new collection at their Annex on the Lower East side in New York City May 1, 2016.