Open Studios: Collaboration Is Key


Based in Milan, Objects Are By is providing a platform for artists and brands to explore new perspectives of design

photography courtesy of OBJECTS ARE BY

“Originally when we started this as a conversation, we realized we have so many talented friends from different industries that inspire us. It was almost a selfish excuse to collaborate with them, as well as brands we love,” says Milan-based Objects Are By cofounder Jenny D. Pham on what inspired her and her partner, artist Phil America, to launch the new platform that pairs artists and brands.

photography courtesy of OBJECTS ARE BY

Her impressive background in brand development and communication strategies, working with companies including Versace and Adidas, paired with America’s internationally acclaimed body of art and experience partnering with fashion brands, gives them agency to help guide other artists down the partnership path. “We wanted to approach everything we do with Objects Are By with the same point of view,” she remarks. “The brand functions as a platform with no limits. A thousand years ago I worked in the design industry in West Hollywood but felt like I was far removed from contemporary culture and wasn’t originally inspired by the work. Now I think our superpower is that we have a sense of naiveté and are not institutionalized in our thinking, unlike the people who have worked in design their whole life.”

Having worked for most of his career in L.A., America (who created one of the current collections of ceramics) was ready to explore the decorative arts space. “Similar to my art practice, I always approach what I’m making as a question that is usually very conceptual and research driven,” he notes. “I approached designing the first pieces for the brand in a similar way—with each piece being inspired by the Milan metro.” However, this new journey was different as the pieces were shaped not just by America but a collective of craftsmen that he says “dictates everything from how and where the piece is produced to what the visual content around it looks like.”

photography courtesy of OBJECTS ARE BY

When asked why the former Angelenos decided to launch the platform in Milan, America says, “There is a deep sense of value in the exchange of ideas across different mediums and forms of creativity in Milan that you don’t find often, and we want to create an ecosystem where interdisciplinary exploration and expression is the driver.” They are currently working with multidisciplinary designer Luca Nichetto on a piece inspired by his roots in Venice, and a blanket with L.A.-based Elena Flores, a lead creative at SpaceX, where she is using data mined by AI to drive the design. “Innovation within production is also something we’re passionate about so we are developing vegan wool in Italy as well as other sustainable materials ranging from ceramics to cotton,” says Pham. “The core of the platform is propelled by the idea that thinking out of your comfort zone can help expand the concept of design—be it a vase or a poncho.”

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