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The Queue: Misha Kahn

The Queue: Misha Kahn

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.

The Queue: Misha Kahn

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.
Fall 2023 issue of American Craft magazine
Misha Kahn. Photo by Joshua White, courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn.

Misha Kahn. Photo by Joshua White, courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn.

Misha Kahn blends craft, design, and sculpture into spectacularly maximalist furniture.
In the world of Misha Kahn, no material or technique is out of reach. His exuberant sculptures and furniture incorporate wood, glass, metal, plastics, resin, textiles, clay, found objects, fur, electronic components, gemstones, and countless other materials. He sews, carves, blows, weaves, shapes, throws, paints, and chars these materials into weird, wild, wonderful couches, tables, lighting, jewelry, wall hangings, objets d’art, and everything in between. Born in Duluth, Minnesota, he learned to sew from his grandmother at a young age. A year of studying the highly specialized craft of shoemaking illuminated for him the possibilities that arise when one attempts a new medium or technique. “This is the characteristic that generally makes craft so compelling—discovering this tiny, tiny door that somehow opens into an enormous world,” he says. Kahn is currently based in Brooklyn, where his studio is working on building an entire house, his Gesamtkunstwerk. His new book, Casually Sauntering the Perimeter of Now, covering the first 10 years of his career, is available now from Apartamento. Jennifer Vogel wrote about Kahn and his loveseat Harvest Moon in “Assemblage” in the Fall 2023 issue of American Craft.

mishakahn.com | @mishakahn

Misha Kahn, A Few Loose Ends, 2022, mohair, 133.75 x 198.75 in. Photo courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn.
Misha Kahn, A Few Loose Ends, 2022, mohair, 133.75 x 198.75 in. Photo courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn.
Misha Kahn seated on top of his sculpture Scrappy Grand, 2017, found objects, mixed media, ceramic beads, grass, fibers, 110 x 84.5 x 44.5 in. Photo by Daniel Kukla, courtesy of Friedman Bend and Misha Kahn.

Misha Kahn seated on top of his sculpture Scrappy Grand, 2017, found objects, mixed media, ceramic beads, grass, fibers, 110 x 84.5 x 44.5 in. Photo by Daniel Kukla, courtesy of Friedman Bend and Misha Kahn.

How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
I'm interested in looking at industrial methods of production and altering them for idiosyncrasy, trying to make a more ideal relationship between the natural world, humans, and our objects. I work with as broad a material palette as possible.

Tell us about the first piece of furniture that captivated you. What about it drew you in?
My grandpa had an Eames Lounge Chair. It’s so wild to say now, but as a teen I really gravitated toward mid-century objects. I think the form is so inviting—so comfortable but also very sexy.

What do you collect in your home? What about in your studio?
At home we have work by a lot of people I really admire: a Wendell Castle piece, a Gaetano Pesce dining table, a couple Campana brothers pieces, some lamps by Katie Stout, and so on.

If you could have work from any contemporary craft artist for your home, whose would it be and why?
Kostas Lambridis, because the work is so generous. Just when you think you couldn’t get one more material that had been cajoled and lovingly integrated into the composition, you discover two. It melds thoughtful craftsmanship across wood, ceramics, metal, glass, and more.

Misha Kahn, Mole Eats Worm, 2020, foam, fabric, steel, 38.75 x 107 x 45 in. Photo by PEPE fotografia, courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn.
Misha Kahn, Mole Eats Worm, 2020, foam, fabric, steel, 38.75 x 107 x 45 in. Photo by PEPE fotografia, courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn.

Your work comprises so many materials and methods. Which materials are your favorites? Which vex you?
I love to sew. I find working with fabric to create a form to be deeply relaxing, whereas most other materials involve more stress or fighting from me. I also love to sculpt in the computer, which ultimately gets 3D printed or carved in the studio. I think wood is the one that tends to frustrate me the most. I like when a material seems both readily additive and subtractive, and wood works so much quicker in the subtractive direction that I feel it creates a gravity that I don’t love.

What are your favorite tools in your tool kit, and how do you use them?
We just built an electroforming bath, and it is pure magic to submerge objects into a vat of acid and pull out something covered in metal. I love it.

Misha Kahn, The Wild One China Cabinet, 2016, lavimisu, banana leaves, cactus, bone, wood, grasses, and glass, 89 x 67 x 31 in. Photo by Adam Reich, courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn.

Misha Kahn, The Wild One China Cabinet, 2016, lavimisu, banana leaves, cactus, bone, wood, grasses, and glass, 89 x 67 x 31 in. Photo by Adam Reich, courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn.

Misha Kahn, Lethologica, 2021, stainless steel, anodized aluminum, 118.5 x 597.75 x 68.75 in. Photo by Humberto Tachiquín, courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn.

Misha Kahn, Lethologica, 2021, stainless steel, anodized aluminum, 118.5 x 597.75 x 68.75 in. Photo by Humberto Tachiquín, courtesy of Friedman Benda and Misha Kahn.

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