While NYCxDesign 2023 is exploding with design talent this month, an emerging name that stood out to us is Madeline Isakson, who made her New York debut at WantedDesign’s Launch Pad. With a passion for exploring materials and the multitude of objects that can be created from what’s left behind, Isakson transforms found materials into pieces that explore consumer culture. Out of 68 participants, she was selected as one of six finalists to feature their work in Launch Pad’s Emerging Designer Showcase.
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At Launch Pad, she shared two new pieces from her ongoing EPS [Expanded Polystyrene] Series: a chair and a floor lamp. “The goal of this series is to rethink the possibilities of what we formerly considered ‘trash’ and create a new domestic aesthetic that sees beauty and humor in the mundane,” she explained.
Utilizing found styrofoam and aluminum, Isakson creates what she describes as “monolithic detritus.” To make the sculptural yet functional pieces work, she spends time collecting discarded styrofoam packaging, then puzzles each object together following an intuitive process. Within the negative space that’s been created, it’s cast in aluminum, making what was once negative and empty the opposite – useful and significant. Isakson adds various other elements, such as a seat cushion or LED light, to add further purpose.
“We are all aware of the problems created by our culture of consumerism,” Isakson notes. “The goal of this series is to rethink the possibilities of what we formerly considered ‘trash’ and create a new domestic aesthetic that sees beauty and humor in the mundane.”
Throughout Isakson’s work lies an exploration of value and consumerism. Styrofoam is an extremely fitting material – it’s one of the world’s largest pollutants that makes up more than 30% of landfill volume worldwide. Her hope is that through her work, viewers and users rethink the lifecycle of the things we consume without thought on a daily basis.
To learn more about Madeline Isakson, visit madelineisakson.com.