Designer Zoë Mowat hails from Montreal, Quebec where she runs her studio, Zoë Mowat Design, producing furniture and objects that double as works of sculpture. The young designer focuses on simple forms and pairs them with clever details and bold colors, while also exploring materials and texture. She has been exhibiting her work throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe since 2008. In this week’s Friday Five, Mowat shares what keeps her inspired.
1. Noguchi’s Playgrounds
Isamu Noguchi excelled in so many realms and his prodigious career included work in sculpture, architecture, landscaping, and furniture and lighting design. I love it all and it only makes sense that he would design playgrounds that are seamlessly beautiful and timeless. He designed numerous play parks throughout his career, only a few of which were actually realized. His Playscapes in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park from the 1970’s is one of the few concepts that was built (I love the slide), but many of his original scale models remain — and they’re wonderful.
2. Italo Disco
It’s not for everyone, but I have a real fondness for the odd and thoroughly catchy electronic music that came out of Italy in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Italo disco embraced synthesizers and other electronic effects to create dance music that evolved from the popular disco that was too expensive to import from the US at the time. Tracks were often about space travel with heavily accented English lyrics and an unrelenting, arpeggiated driving beat. I’m slowly amassing my vinyl collection.
3. The Director Jacques Rivette
A thing I’ve always loved, and found inspiration in, is film. In my early twenties I got into French New Wave and I watched everything I could by Truffaut and Godard, and Rhomer. I’ve since discovered the fourth member of the New Wave group, Jacques Rivette, whose films are enigmatic, unconventional, and experimental (often improvised and with a long run time). Celine and Julie Go Boating is absolutely wonderful. Sadly, he died earlier in the year.
4. The Scottish Highlands
My family is Scottish so I take every opportunity I can to go and visit, especially for a road trip through the Scottish Highlands. I find the combination of the landscape and the atmosphere, or the dreich — the word my family and locals use to describe the drizzly, overcast, misty and moody weather characteristic of Scotland — to be completely inspiring. A recent trip inspired the blue, grey and green color palette of my latest furniture series, Ora.
5. Sculpture by Catherine Burgess
I think one of the things that inspires me the most, both consciously and unconsciously, is my mother’s sculpture. I find that her abstract works in metal and stone have such strength in their simplicity and purity. I grew up spending a lot of time in her studio, building and assembling things, and the exposure to her work — to the process of making, the materials, the emphasis on geometry, her philosophy — inspired me greatly as a child and continues to do so now.