For nearly a decade, Azadeh Shladovsky has brought her scientific background to bear in her art, creating residential and commercial interiors that she describes as a balance of the seemingly incompatible disciplines. "I think that creativity is a science," says the Iranian-born, Los Angeles–based interior designer, who studied medicine before turning to a career in the decorative arts. "There is a beautiful equilibrium in art that balances design, which is very emotional, and science, which is more academic."
This mind-set informs Shladovsky’s first furniture line, which debuted in January. Comprising stools, ottomans, benches, and tables, the designer’s namesake collection incorporates natural elements that are given a modernist appearance. Native Californian woods like maple and oak meet inorganic materials like nickel and bronze. Counterbalancing the woods, which are either left rough-hewn or polished to a sheen, are exquisite details including Patagonian sheepskin and gold leaf.
The unexpected ways in which Shladovsky pairs these materials enable her to explore relationships of contrast: lightness and heaviness, rigidity and softness, luster and matte. She intends for such combinations to challenge the viewer—something she insists art must do to be successful. "I want to introduce a level of unpredictability that engages people and causes them to pause and reflect on the piece," she explains. "It has to reach people on multiple levels—not just visually. Otherwise, it’s just making pretty things."
The Infinity bench (priced from $38,000) is a heavy rosewood plank wrapped at intervals in Patagonian sheepskin and set atop glistening brass legs. The interplay of the hard materials with the cloud-like tuft of fur is not jarring; rather, the disparate elements work in concert to create a piece that is pleasing both visually and tactilely. Likewise, the Diva stool (priced from $4,100) challenges the viewer’s notions of stiffness and malleability, with its delicately sloped nickel base and its top: a massive puff of sheepskin. Shladovsky describes it as "both soft and heavy at once."
Pieces are available at Jean de Merry showrooms in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City, and are customizable to the extent that changes do not compromise Shladovsky’s original designs—more of which may be on the way. This spring she released the collection’s ninth piece—a round ottoman fashioned from gray Birdseye maple and featuring an antique gold-leaf band and hand-dyed blue-gray sheepskin—and she is open to the possibility of adding others.
Each new piece represents the collection’s growth, says Shladovsky, as well as her own. "As I continue to evolve as a person and a designer, you’ll see that translated in the work I do," she explains. "Really, to know the pieces is to know me."