2018 marks the fifth anniversary of the Launch Pad at WantedDesign Manhattan. The Launch Pad is a platform for emerging designers who wish to make connections with manufacturers and retailers during NYCxDESIGN, New York’s celebration of global design. Each year, a group of industry professionals reviews the exhibited work to select a Best of Launch Pad prize. Since 2014, the Launch Pad has exhibited over 100 designers from dozens of countries and over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories of some of the designers who have participated in years past and the manufacturers who’ve discovered them. As a reminder, the 2018 Launch Pad applications are due January 31, 2018. Apply here.
Elish Warlop is a Brooklyn-based lighting and furniture designer. She received a BA at Cornell University, became a licensed architect and then pursued an MFA in furniture design at RISD. She launched Elish Warlop Design Studio with the aim of merging creativity and design with construction and experimentation. Her work appears simple and elegant but reveals more complex construction meant to draw in the viewer.
Q: Which year did you present at WantedDesign?
In the 2014 Launch Pad and in 2017, I presented my pieces with Design Within Reach within the Launch Pad space.
Q:Did you make connections with brands and fellow designers?
Yes. Every year at WantedDesign the judges are outstanding. It was an excellent opportunity to speak to people in the industry I would not have had access to before. I got to speak with a few of them personally in regards to my work. Specifically I remember getting feedback from Mirko van den Winkel, VP of Moroso USA, Antoine Roset, VP of Roset USA and Kari Woldum, VP of Merchandising at Design Within Reach.
Q: Tell us about your favorite project you’ve worked on since you participated in Launch Pad at WantedDesign.
Because of Launch Pad, I got connected with Design Within Reach. In meeting their VP of Merchandising at the time, I was able to work with them on 2 lines of lighting. One was Rings, which I had designed for the Launch Pad event and the other was Magnify, which I designed specifically DWR. I think the most eye opening part of the process was the prototyping and manufacturing stage, I was very much involved in the process, and was able to visit the manufacturing facilities with the DWR production team. The final manufacturer we settled on worked hard with us on getting the design to where we wanted. DWR very much had my back in regards to getting the prototype right before production. I am really happy with the final results on both pieces. They both came out at the same time, this past April, and I was featured in their catalogue. See more here.
Q: How has your work evolved since you shared your work at WantedDesign? Is it now in production? If so, with whom?
I may have just answered this question above. I think one of the ways my work has evolved, is that the designs are getting better and better. As I grow and learn, my work becomes better adapted to its environment. The Walnut Shades I showed at Wanted 2014 are a good example of evolving design. We are always trying to streamline the process of the bent lamination and create an ease of install, so each time we make them we work on improving the process. The largest job I have had to date was just completed. The shades were installed in a storefront at Pure Yoga, a studio in a recent renovation by the UK architect Thomas Heatherwick. And mentioned in Wallpaper here.
Q: What advice do you have for emerging designers who will be showing at the Launch Pad in 2018 and beyond?
I would tell the participants at Launch Pad that it is an fantastic event whether you win or not. Launch Pad and Odile and Claire are basically giving you the opportunity to meet with brands, press, and other designers you would not have otherwise been exposed to. I would say don’t be shy, talk to as many people as you can. It is a great opportunity to get connected.