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Karl Zahn

Karl Zahn is a Brooklyn, New York-based designer known for his work that plays with compositional and scaled pieces that speak to the tactile world. More than just ornamental works, Zahn’s design brand is as heavily built on practicality as it is on materialism, with many different mediums coexisting in his overall concept and design. As well known for his lighting design as his experimental models, Zahn’s stark ingenuity recalls a Danish influence and an interest in stark minimalism and functional ingenuity.

A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Zahn’s feel for design was apparent at a young age. As a six year old in Vermont, the designer experimented with household objects - including paper and toothpicks - to create models that reflected the environment around them. He was greatly influenced by wood and other natural materials of his childhood, showcased in the simplistic, functional design that Zahn produces today.

Zahn established his current homebase of Brooklyn by way of San Francisco, where he embarked on a creative journey through the metalworking traditions and cultures that live on the West Coast. In 2007, he moved to New York, where he set up his own design shop and has worked with companies such as Artecnica, AREAWARE, Teroforma, Lindsey Adelman Studio and Roll & Hill.

One of his first breakthrough works, in collaboration with Hotel Wallpaper*, involved the reimagination of an age-old tradition: grand European hotel keys. In a zoomorphic spin on the traditional design, Zahn’s bronze-cast designs outfitted a menagerie of beasts into room keys that looked anything but old-fashioned. With a final two designs--a gazelle and an alligator--the pieces were functionally and able to fitted for any lock.

Zahn’s 2014 ‘Momentum’ collection, which debuted during NYCxDesign week, showcased the designer’s particular eye for stunning mobiles, material experimentation, and delicate stability. Combining Zahn’s childhood obsessions with natural elements and mobiles, the simply shaped sculptures exhibited perfect balance married with elegant design. Supported by US Design store Matter, the tabletop pieces were showcased alongside the Matter Made collection in Soho.

The designer’s 2015 collection, ‘Rise,’ which built on the experimental design of ‘Momentum,’ continued the designer’s experimentation with balance in a series of custom hardware vitrines. The ornamental pieces incorporated polished brass, wooden pendulums, and metal plates to play with design in motion and reflect the ever-changing nature of light and reflection. Composed out of Lindsey Adelman’s studio, the 16-piece collection is a feat of modern elegance and manufacturing.

Zahn’s work has been featured in Wallpaper*, T Magazine, DesignCurial, Dezeen, Designboom, Areaware and more.
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