Best of the Best 2013: Furnishings: David Wiseman

<< Back to Robb Report, June 2013
  • Jorge S. Arango

From the look of his pieces, David Wiseman could be the love child of the Vienna Secessionist designer Dagobert Peche and the whimsical surrealist sculptor and furniture designer Claude Lalanne. But though Wiseman’s wildly inventive mixed-media furniture, lighting, and accessories clearly draw on Peche’s spiky baroquelike designs and Lalanne’s sensually charged botanical forms, his creations also mine an astonishingly broad spectrum of decorative arts—Japanese porcelain and origami; the sinuous line of art nouveau; the engineering principles of classical sculpture; the faceting of cubism; and Dadaist collage.

Wiseman funnels such influences through his fecund imagination, producing work that teems with fantastical imagery—but remains accessible. "Too many designers think they have to make things that are challenging," says Evan Snyderman, cofounder of New York City’s R 20th Century gallery, which represents the Los Angeles–based Wiseman. "David is not afraid to make beautiful things. His work is a celebration of beauty."

Indeed, Wiseman’s intent is to reinvigorate the tradition of decoration by proving that ornament is inherently valuable. His primary inspiration—nature—was on vivid display last fall, when R 20th Century hosted the first solo exhibition of Wiseman’s art. A bronze saltcellar took the form of a seedpod. A bronze lattice fireplace screen had branches growing through it that provided both decoration and support (the way a tree stump props up Michelangelo’s David). Vases resembled faceted volcanoes. Pomegranates and cherry blossoms were everywhere.

Multiple media are also Wiseman hallmarks. A Collage chandelier, for example, showcases bronze branches, porcelain blossoms, crystal-and-bronze basketlike pendants, porcelain rope suspended from decorative bronze chains, and a porcelain bird. Porcelain blossoms also grace the illuminated bronze Branch sculpture shown here.

The furnishings of this Rhode Island School of Design graduate, who is just 31, are already sought by museum directors, curators, art collectors, and philanthropists—a good indication that they will only increase in value. Wiseman makes everything to order at his L.A. studio (except for the crystal of the pendants, which is produced by the Czech firm Artêl). Prices for objects and furniture range from $2,500 to $80,000. Collage chandeliers start at $95,000. Wiseman also creates wall and ceiling "forests," which begin at $250,000.

David Wiseman, available through R 20th Century, 212.343.7979, www.r20thcentury.com