Spotlight: Michael Savona

Michael Savona makes work to live around. Founded in 2010, his practice includes housewares, printed matter, visual identities, websites, and objects. He is currently shortlisted in the Designs of the Year 2015 exhibit at the Design Museum, London. Michael also collects designs that engage the relationship between people, interiors, and objects with Thom Moran at Frontieriors.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’ve lived in Chicago since 2008. I moved here from Boston to study Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I’ve used the term “light company” before when talking about the kind of work I make; I think it even applies to my graphic work to some extent. Similar to company, the work aims to be sociable and familiar. As light company, the work can also recess further into the background, or move and feel at home in a different environment or classification altogether.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I recently assisted with wayfinding graphics at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, developed some print designs for textiles for Creatures of the Wind, and am now finishing up a product commission for next year’s release. In the coming weeks, I’ll find myself with some time to think about what to do with my website. And, I’m trying to imagine what architecture would look like if it began life as an infant before growing up to be building scale.

Page from My ____ Book (2015)

Page from My ____ Book (2015)

What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other designers are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? Ha — it is difficult to promote a practice that defies a singular type of output! I’m still thinking through this, but find it helpful to seek others in the same boat and share methods, struggle and success.

How did your interest in art or design begin? My mother’s father painted with watercolors and made miniature houses with working electrical systems. My father’s father used the same utility knife to peel garlic and mend mostly everything outdoors. I think my interest in art and design began through seeing different ways of working.

Sbagliato (2014–ongoing). With Thing Thing

Sbagliato (2014–ongoing). With Thing Thing

What products or companies are you interested in right now? I moved a few months ago so I’m still busy trying out new ways to be in my apartment. This has led to a renewed interest in table shapes and finding places to work, relax and read. I recently purchased a non-pressurized aerosol-type spray bottle called the Flairosol for my plants.

What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? Materials are usually driven by a brief or woven into the concept at hand. My process leans heavily on those things that are already present in a project — content, form, audience, manufacturability, budget. This, mixed with an openness to any new input that might arise through collaboration, troubleshooting, or time off.

Concrete paver label (2015). With Mollie Edgar and Dylan Fracareta

Concrete paver label (2015). With Mollie Edgar and Dylan Fracareta

Tell us a joke. A bear goes into a bar and sits down on a stool. After a short silence, the bartender asks “why the long pause [paws]?” 

What’s your favorite thing about your city? The 606 Trail and the beach.

Études/ Duets (2013)

Études/ Duets (2013)

What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? Coffee and any kind of sweet.

Favorite place to shop? I love looking at — and buying — independent magazines. Chicago Main-Newsstand up in Evanston is a great destination for this.

Trivet Runner for ODLCO (2013)

Trivet Runner for ODLCO (2013)