New York–based designer, entrepreneur, inventor and creative director Joe Doucet (BFA 99 Graphic Design) combines function, visual appeal and meaning in his product, furniture, environment and technology designs, with clients ranging from BMW to Target. “I believe that design can play a larger role in innovation and problem solving, as well as aesthetics,” he says. His pieces include the Hidden bracelet: 16 metal triangles that fold up into a diamond-like object, sparked by a visit to a toy store with his son. In 2017, Doucet—who holds more than 50 patents—won the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in product design.
Portrait of Joe Doucet, courtesy of Doucet.
Part of the Ecocentric Art Movement and inspired by her diamantaire (diamond cutter) late grandfather, Los Angeles–based fine artist S.P. Harper (BFA 79 Advertising) paints images of gemstones and jewels on recycled and reclaimed materials, mixing the classical tradition of still life painting with modernism. Her piece Cacus is an oil and acrylic depiction of a glittery peach morganite on salvaged canvas. Vesta, of an oval aquamarine, was painted with acrylic on a tablecloth. “What begins as refuse is repurposed, transforming base materials into noble objects,” Harper says. Her work has been showcased in nine exhibits in 2018, including at the Torrance Art Museum.
Portrait of S.P. Harper, courtesy of Harper.
Born in Detroit and based in L.A., artist Matt Paweski (MFA 07 Art) creates sculptures that boast bold geometric cutouts and color. His influences vary, from city infrastructure to motion in space. Recent works by Paweski, who draws on his past as a carpenter and metalworker, include formed aluminum sheets joined together by aerospace rivets and saturated with vinyl paint. “How do you convey a physical quality, an emotion, through a machined object?” he says. “For me, the focus is not to build the most ergonomic door handle, but to try to re-create the response we have with that function, to capture that personal experience within sculpture.”
Portrait of Matt Paweski, courtesy of Paweski.
When L.A. artist Sung Jik Yang (BFA 18 Illustration) immigrated to the United States from South Korea at age 14, he had a difficult time learning English, so he developed the habit of observing people’s facial expressions to understand their needs. His portraits Alex and Avalon exude a similar sense of nuance and hidden emotions. “When I look at a person’s face carefully and pay attention to his or her features, I also interpret the individual’s characteristics, and that serves as my artistic inspiration,” he says. “Portraiture is the most honest way to show another human being. Human faces primitively represent who they are.”
Portrait of Sung Jik Yang, courtesy of Yang.