Objet d’Art: Writers & Readers Anonymous

Published August 19, 2016

PHOTOS COURTESY OF ORPHAN WORK.

Every month, Interview picks an artist- or designer-created object that straddles the line between aesthetics and function. Subdued tastes need not apply.

Anonymity (the concept) and letter writing (the practice) are two things you don’t hear much about these days. We can blame technology for all but vanquishing the idea of privacy—not that anyone wants to be private anymore, it seems. This is the age of personal brands and Snapchat. And computers, of course, have done away with the cherished, time-honored, and distinctly poky business of writing and sending letters.

So what’s to make of a desk set with no creator? New York-based designers Lauren Larson and Christian Lopez Swafford, the team behind Material Lust, have done just that. They recently launched a “faceless” brand extension, called Orphan Work, in which they repurpose found objects or scraps to make entirely new pieces. The objects are devoid of the usual flair they pour into their Material Lust creations, and instead celebrate the materials and functionality of items like candleholders, doorstops, and plates.

“There is this Instagram culture happening in design where every designer wants to be famous,” the duo tells us. “They want you to connect a personality to the object. With Orphan Work we want to put the objects first.”

The slightly surrealist desk set features an oversized letter opener and rests for either pens or incenses—applicable for both reading and writing situations. The shapes are inspired by cast-off scraps from a metal shop, and are made of solid brass, bronze, and stainless steel, which will age and patina naturally. The pieces are made in extremely limited quantities. Larson and Swafford put it this way: “It’s almost like a farm-to-table restaurant. The work will be reproducible but with small changes depending on the circumstances we are working in. We want to make sure things do not become standardized and we can stay open to evolve.”

ORPHAN WORK’S DESK SET IS AVAILABLE THROUGH THEIR ONLINE STORE FOR $1,080. ITEMS SOLD INDIVIDUALLY RANGE FROM $280 TO $520.  

Objet d’Art runs every month. For more, click here