Material Lust Mixes Art and Design Under One Roof

Hannah Martin

Six years ago, designers Christian Swafford and Lauren Larson—then employees at Studio Sofield and Victoria Hagan, respectively—started using their nights and weekends for their own creative pursuits. They made sculptural coatracks that were inspired by a 1920s Man Ray photograph and chairs that bore pagan symbols, along the way leaving their day jobs to launch their own studio, Material Lust. Ever since, the couple has steadily built a portfolio of objects that hover between art and design, supplementing their income with anonymous commissions for other brands.

Now the duo has turned that insider knowledge into their own collection of products for a more mass market. “After working in the design world, we knew what our peers were looking for,” Swafford explains of Orphan Work, their new array of lighting and objects. Hits include brushed-brass flush mounts and alabaster-and-nickel pendants, all simple and geometric. Their rectangular alabaster sconces have also been selling like crazy, with 30 recently shipped to a private residence in Los Angeles. “As a designer I was always looking for two sconces to go on either side of the mirror,” Larson explains. “So I made the exact sconce that I could never find.”

See More of Material Lust's Work and Studio

Sculptural creations fill Material Lust’s SoHo live-work space.
000 Pendant ( orphanwork.com).
Russ Cooper / Courtesy of Material Lust
Pagan chair.
Courtesy of Material Lust
Twin Peak sofa, 000 sconce, and Grotesque table lamp.
001 ashtray.
Courtesy of Material Lust
Crepuscule floor lamp.
Inspirational objects cover the desk at Material Lust’s SoHo studio.
Material Lust’s 2015 Amalgam shelf, created with Kinder Modern, next to the bookcase.
A bench-like sculpture from Material Lust’s Phase VI collection sits with the streamlined lights Larson and Swafford have created for Orphan Work.

Creating a market-driven product line, meanwhile, has allowed the duo to do something else they’d been craving—take Material Lust more fully into the art realm. “At design fairs we kept wanting to have conversations about the concepts behind the work, and all people wanted to talk about was the materiality,” reflects Larson, noting that they were pleasantly surprised when they showed their most recent body of work—ambiguously functional sculptures wrapped in latex or fringed with plastic zip ties—at New York’s Independent art fair. “No one asked what other colors the latex came in. Or if they could make some­thing 10 inches longer,” Larson recalls. “They actually treated it like what it is—sculpture.” material-lust.com

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest