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Art

Meet the Maker: David Wiseman

March 10, 2020

“Wilderness and Ornament.” “Under the Night Sky.” Plants, Minerals and Animals.” The titles of artist David Wiseman’s past exhibitions paint a picture of his romantic style—dreamy iterations of natural forms, rooted in old-world techniques—but belie his range.

He has crafted ornate furniture, enchanting chandeliers, gilded chalices and embellished Dior handbags. His coveted creations take shape in porcelain, bronze, glass, stone and plaster. And up next, he tells us, is water: “I’m creating a large-scale exterior fountain wall, with bronze outcroppings, animal sculptures and areas for plants to grow amongst cascading water.”

Collage Chandelier for Rhode Island School of Design, 2014. Bronze, porcelain, crystal, and glass.Nat Rhea

If you haven’t heard of him, it’s because his imagination often runs wild behind closed doors. He transforms clients’ private residences into calming oases, bringing the outdoors in with magnificent, metal fireplace screens and sprawling, flowering branch installations that appear rooted in the architecture. To experience them is to be lucky enough to receive a personal invitation to these homes—or order a copy of Wiseman’s eponymous new book (Rizzoli, available April 2020).

The tome doubles as a visual feast of pattern. “I have always been drawn to nature in my work,” he says. “And within the natural world, magnificent patterns abound, from crystalline structures to honeycombs, and cell formations to ocean swells.” His motifs transcend even these, calling on decorative wood carvings, mosque adornments and more across cultures and time periods.

Pattern and Ornament Ceiling Installation, 2016. Plaster, porcelain, bronze, glass and paint.Joe Kramm

The Los-Angeles based talent took a break from settling into his new studio (situated near the LA river, where he’s surrounded by gardens and just 7 minutes away from his Silver Lake home) to answer a few questions for our new Meet the Makers series.

What are 3 tools you can’t live without?

Lutz 2 -in-1 pocket screwdriver

Welder

Weber Workshops HG-1 coffee hand grinder

Your favorite thing to look at?

19th-century Japanese kimono pattern catalogues.

The most magical place on Earth?

Kauai, HI

What are you reading?

Bill Bryson’s
The Road to Little Dribbling

Paul Stamets’s
Mycelium Running; How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World

Wilderness and Ornament Room, Installation at R & Company, 2015. Wilderness and Ornament Wall Panels, 2015. Plaster and paint. Garden Gate, 2013. Bronze and porcelain. Heart of Glass, 2013. Bronze and glass. Pattern Flare Table, 2014. Bronze, glass, and porcelain.Mark Hanauer

A few things you love at home:

A newly installed breakfast nook banquette in my kitchen.

My front garden with Copa de Oro vine trellis overhead.

Biggest pet peeves:

Shoddy craftsmanship.

Sage advice you’ve received:

Draw, draw, draw. Sleep. Then look at it fresh in the morning.

Best spot to hang in hometown:

Hail Mary Pizza in Atwater.

Part of your daily routine you positively can’t miss:

Morning greetings with my studio crew and pets.

Cielo de las Granadas Installation, 2007. Plaster, porcelain, steel, and paint.Robert Polidori

David WisemanMark Hanauer

Click here to order
David Wiseman,
out now from Rizzoli.

Interview has been edited and condensed.