Los Angeles-based David Wiseman is one of the leading American designers of his generation and is the creator of this issue’s Cultured Commission. His work draws upon the history of the decorative arts and the natural world to create uniquely beautiful sculptural objects and environmental installations. “I was excited to take on this commission because I have always wanted to create wearable versions of my ceilings, walls and chandeliers. The porcelain blossoms are derived from forms that I have used for large-scale installations, but have never before been customized for the human body.” Here, we catch up with the artist about this exclusive new work, and his favorite natural escapes in LA.
I’ve gathered that you’ve been exploring jewelry for some time, but hadn’t brought a piece to fruition until now. Yes, it’s been something I’ve thought about for years—about a decade now. Since I’m making jewelry for homes—though I hate that expression—creating wearable jewelry is a totally different way of working. My studio is set up for gates and ceilings, so to shift in scale is a challenge. Luckily, there are so many great jewelry designers and fabricators out here, so I’ve worked with consultants to help me adapt my designs. For instance, I’ve been systematically miniaturizing chandelier chains—and now they’re bracelet or necklace chains. I’ve been hesitant to bring it to the public. It has to be a totally considered experience, so this piece is something I’m super amped on.
Me, too! Tell us about the pendant on this necklace. The necklace starts with the ceramics. I sculpted this design about four years ago; it was an element that went into my chandeliers and ceilings. These tufted Cloud fruits have been a recurring theme in my drawings, and one of my principle patterns. In my collage ceilings, we see the fruit change scale to becomes dots through a beautiful gradation. There’s a link to fruits and flowers to pure patterns.
With nature guiding your work, could you share a local escape you like to make in LA?
I grew up close to Huntington Gardens, an expansive museum, library and gardens founded by Henry Huntington in the early 1900s. He created these themed gardens—cactus, succulents, a Japanese garden with a bamboo forest. You can get lost in the vertical towers of bamboo. It’s really a dream.
A little closer to home, we’re planting gardens in our new compound in Frogtown. We will have three areas where we can also showcase work in a space populated by the very species that inspired the work. I get to build paradise.
Do you have a favorite tree or plant species? Oaks are my favorite. All of my bronze branches were cast from oaks. There’s something so special about the calligraphy of the branches. I almost feel weird taking credit for my chandeliers. The oak did it; I just help it exist in a home.
Besides your new studio/gallery/garden compound opening later this year, what else is looming large on your agenda? I’ve begun working with Paul Kasmin and we’ll be doing a show there in 2019, which will be in the new space. He’s already showed some things at the fairs, but we’re planning a big showing of major bronze works.
To purchase the limited-edition Cloud Fruit necklace, visit 1stdibs.com.