Emerging designers explore identity and ‘the new world’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery

‘The New Guard, Stories from the New World’ is among the latest New York design exhibitions. Centred on showcasing emerging artists and designers, it makes its debut at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York (until 22 January 2022). Guest curators Wava Carpenter and Anna Carnick of Anava Projects, along with Ashlee Harrison, have selected an exciting group of creatives, all of whom are based either in the US or the Caribbean and bring a new perspective to art and design conversations in the Americas.

Importantly, this exhibition bridges the geographical borders that have historically separated or, rather, placed America atop the hierarchy among its neighbours. ‘The New Guard’ seeks to dismantle this and posits a more fluid exchange of ideas between the US and the Caribbean, which presents instead ‘personal narratives through works that tell a powerful story about the “New World”, as a reference both to the historical identity of the region, and how this new generation brings fresh, vital voices to collectable design’, reads an introductory text to the exhibition.

The New Guard, Stories from the New World

Textile works by Anubha Sood

Iraqi-American artist and designer Maryam Turkey first arrived in the USA as a refugee with her family in 2009. Working between sculptural furniture and sculptural paintings, her ‘Between Rise and Fall’ collection mimics imagined cityscape inspired by Baghdad and New York, now recreated in the three-dimensional realm existing as functional yet sculptural objects.

Emerging designers explore identity and ‘the new world’ at Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Martinique-based Ibiyanε (the Batanga or Cameroonian word for ‘to know one another’), the studio set up by Elodie Dérond and Tania Doumbe Fines, pays homage to the duo’s Caribbean and Cameroonian heritage in a series of hand-carved wooden objects inspired by personal and collective memories. The pair’s work represents a dialogue between Sub-Saharan African physicality and a Eurocentric perspective of ergonomics, a move to create dialogue in design that is less hierarchical.

Table and bench by Jerome Byron, wall sconces by Tiarra Bell

Susannah Weaver explores the limitless potential of alternative materials and raw fibres, following on from her previous work as a student researcher for the Healthy Materials Lab, resulting in concrete-wool objects; while Tiarra Bell’s handcrafted ceiling pendant, wall sconces, and mirrors in ebonised oak and gold leaf are all realised expressions of her Christian faith. Anubha Sood’s ecologically minded works see her using seaweed as source material for reflecting upon her and humankind’s relationship to the natural world.

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From Jerome Byron’s minimalist patinated steel pieces, to Anubha Sood’s meticulous textile handmade works, and ceramicist Isabella Maroon’s new collection of clay curios assembled from detritus of past works, all of the artists on view share the common ethos of moving beyond themes rooted in identity and heritage alone. These are ideas also explored by global artists and designers including Dozie Kanu based out of Santarém, Portugal; Nifemi Marcus Bello in Lagos, Nigeria; and Nifemi Ogunro in Brooklyn.

‘The New Guard, Stories from the New World’ solidifies this new direction and is a refreshing take on the ongoing intersections of art and design, hybridity and a refusal to be fixed to dated categorisations in a world that is constantly evolving and in flux. §