Erica Sellers’ passion for a crafty use of materials is evident from her first designs, but with her graduation project at Rhode Island School of Design, she proved to be after more than simply the exploration of materials. Her new objects are not only conceptually inspired by the flowing nature of sound, but their shapes are directly affected by it.
What was your first project?
My first collaborative design project was a cardboard toddler chair. Myself and three other students at RISD were asked to create a chair out of one sheet of 8 x 10 foot cardboard. The chair we created is not only structurally sound, but also visually appealing for a two to five year old child.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Most recently, I am inspired by the experimental and up-and-coming music scene. I believe music and pop culture can racially shape public consciousness. By understanding multiple sensor systems that shape contemporary society, one can foresee the direction in which design is headed, as well as what specific styles are influencing the culture of now. I think of sound and visual culture in an interwoven web that establishes possibilities and new character, which I then refer to in my most recent designs. Apart from that, I’m also inspired by the materiality of glass. Glass’ capabilities and potentials are endless. I incorporate a lot of glass and glass-like methodology – such as transparency and subtlety – into my art and designs.
What's your design process?
There is a seemingly endless sketching and researching before I begin to re-design something. But once my sketches are polished, I render them quickly in 3D modeling programs, and then use a variety of mediums and methods of construction to create scaled models.
What are you planning to work on next?
Apart from continuing to develop my Landscape of Sound graduation project, I began working of six months ago for my senior thesis: I’m assisting artist Tavares Strachan in developing his work for upcoming exhibitions and the next Venice Biennale. I like to split my time between art and design if I have the chance. Working for Strachan will allow me to further develop my artistic interests.
City of Residence New York, NY
Education Received a BFA in Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design
Motto Allow events to change you, but always maintain vital core values and morals Favorite quote “Make mistakes faster.” – Bruce Mau
Best advice received Even when things are uncomfortable, have a positive attitude when communicating in the design world and don't forget to always keep an open-mind. Having the ability to adapt to new social and cultural environments is also key. Best tip for designers When designing something, it’s not always a matter of form followed by function, or visa versa, but rather a well-balanced dialog between the two. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to venture into new processes and mediums. A great designer is someone who is able to problem solve under any circumstance and grow by fearlessly delving into new software, material and methodologies.
Three things every designer needs A sketchbook, a library of visual inspiration (i.e. books, magazines, photos, websites), and patient perseverance
Newest addition to your studio I do not have a studio, yet. Nonetheless, I recently met and am working with a talented photographer, which has been a great influence on my life and how I perceive my surrounding environment.
First design that inspired you Frank Lloyd Wright’s Living room from the Little House, Wayzata, Minnesota, installed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.