American design — misunderstood, criticized, ill-defined, resented — has a savior: the American Design Club. Waving their turkey-emblazoned banner high, the AmDC (Kiel Mead, Simon Arizpe, Annie Lenon, Henry Juiler, Theo Richardson, Alex Williams, and Charles Brill) champion stateside design in all its nuances with curated shows of the country’s best up-and-coming talent. It’s more than Brooklyn craft, it’s more than industrial neo-modernism, it’s more than green, it’s more than wit — American design is an expansive, sometimes unwieldy beast, and the AmDC likes it that way. Still, to add a little order to things and maybe spark some unexpected creativity, the AmDC themes all their shows. The last (the inaugural) was based on the great outdoors; this one, on color. “Hue Are You?” opens on Friday at The Future Perfect in Williamsburg. After the jump we talk to Kiel Mead, one of the founders, about what to expect.
Flavorwire: Why’d the AmDC start in the first place? What’s your mission?
Kiel Mead: We noticed that there was a lack of community for designers in America. There were no opportunities to show off new work or to meet other designers. Not only that, but in the world theater other countries were not seeing us as a presence. So a bunch of us decided to do something about it. The American Design Club was our answer, our opportunity to give designers a platform to stand on, and for the rest of the world to notice.
FW: What does it mean to be an American designer?
KM: It’s a constant struggle. It’s hard to get noticed, difficult to get manufactured, and takes effort to keep going. Very few people want to help you out. If they do want to help you, you have to fight to keep your name on something you created. The American Design Club wants to celebrate the designer as an individual, put a face behind a product.
FW: Tell me about this show — where’d the idea come from?
KM: All of our shows are loosely based around one theme or idea. Our first show was called “Outside of Sorts.” Designers were invited to create anything that alluded to the idea of “outside.” Our current show is called “Hue Are You?” It’s a show about how color effects design, and again, designers are invited to push the limits of the theme.
We were given the chance to present the show at The Future Perfect in Williamsburg, which has always seen eye-to-eye with what the AmDC believes in. They have a reputation for giving new designers their first chance to show work.
FW: What kind of submissions have you gotten so far?
KM: We have a wide range of concepts. Some designers are being very serious and true to the theme, while others will make you think. All in all, every piece is unique and great for discussion, which is something the Club invites attendees to do. Talk about the work, let us know what you think, have a conversation about something that’s attractive to you or talk about why you don’t like something.
FW: Did you make a piece for the show?
KM: I created a set of rings. I would have liked to do more, but when you are curating a show you have very little time for anything else.
FW: What’d you learn from your last show? Any surprises that you’re more prepared for this time around?
KM: The best surprise was that people want this! Our show at Character was so well-received. The party was amazing and packed to capacity, and people were talking about it and asking to join the Club for months afterwards. As far as the new show is concerned we were much more strict on what we decided to show. [They had about 100 submissions — double what they had last time.] The Club was able to choose really great pieces. “Hue Are You?” is definitely a higher caliber show.
FW: Any plans for the future?
KM: The best part of the club is that there are so many opportunities. We’re not sure what we want to do next or when we are going to do it, but we are definitely going to be having more shows.