Friday Five with Misha Kahn

New York City-based Misha Kahn was born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota and in 2008, his work was part of the 20 under 20 exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Graduating in 2011 from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in furniture design, Kahn became a Fulbright Fellow at Tel Aviv’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in 2012 and then went on to contribute a collection of his concrete Heyerdahl lamps to Bjarne Melgaard’s installation in the Whitney Biennial. His work uniquely meshes both sculpture and design utilizing a plethora of sometimes unconventional materials to achieve his unorthodox objects. His first solo exhibition at NYC’s Friedman Benda runs through April 9th, 2016 and it’s entitled Return of Saturn: Coming of Age in the 21st Century. Let’s take a look to see what Kahn selects as inspiration in this week’s Friday Five.


1. Nest Magazine
I keep the full collection by my bedside and frequently flip through one before falling asleep so it will permeate my dreams. The publication combined detailed, erratic and thoughtful graphics with ingenuitive publishing techniques all to describe some of the best idiosyncratic interiors. Revisiting all these nicely layered images is always helpful – making me feel okay with my work wandering off into a perverse landscape of its own creation.


2. Something Happening shop
Run by my close friend Cynthia Chang, her shop, to most an online store, has a real life iteration in her studio. Karsts of eclectic paper mache objects that have no business as display elements are draped with casually constructed clothes made from bargain bin fabrics and cut up dollar store mops and bouncy balls. Everything is perfect for the party – ill fitting, filled with motion and affordable enough that it encourages you to live your life in full sloppiness.

3. My Juki
I mean, this thing has paid for itself a thousand times over. I bought this 1980’s model off of a hoarder in New Jersey who’d usurped it from a Filipino tailoring shop. In the box was several framed pictures of her shih tzu and parrot playing together as well as a pin cushion that’s a tiny couch that helps set the scene in the sewing area.. Sewing has so many interesting applications, and it’s my preferred method to attach anything. I love how it can combine things with a line quality that’s similar to how we draw, with some life in it.


4. My boat
A couple of years ago, I bought a 1979 Lil Hobo houseboat. It’s an all fiberglass model that’s a tiny cabin aboard a tiny boat. It needs endless work, but I love having something that’s just an excuse for my imagination to run wild. I redesign the whole thing every week in my head. It’s different than how I design my furniture, because I imagine at some point it will meet a tragic end where, like a lame horse, I’m going to have to put five bullet holes in the hull and swim for shore while it plunges to its East River demise. This sets up a good fantasy head space where coating the whole thing with shells and glitter-filled resin starts seeming totally reasonable.


5. Chartreuse
There’s this part of the day where Katie Stout and I ask each other if it’s ok to start drinking. Usually it’s beer or wine, or maybe Campari, but I think Chartreuse is the most special because of the vivid color. An afternoon drink changes some of the decision making, and things can head off in a different direction. Sometimes it’s terrible and the next morning there’s some re-doing, but sometimes we egg each other on and the objects that result have gone so much deeper into the abyss.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.