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Publication Date: 2018-08-17

Behind the Design

Studio Visit: Nate Cotterman

Glass designer Nate Cotterman is inspired by the simplicity of modern design and a style that is unique in appearance or function. Here, he talks about the pieces in his Phase and Classic Series, intriguing and one-of-a-kind lighting fixtures and glassware fit for a modern home.

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Q: Your Classic Series truly are works of art. What was your inspiration behind these vessels?

A: The Classic Series is inspired by the combination of classical Venetian glass and the idea of the impossible object. They are an encapsulation and preservation of history. The interior objects are stripped down and simplified to the essence of the forms, and then impossibly set into the exterior bottles. They are meant to be visual objects, offering beauty and mystery to the viewer.

Q: A lot of your designs include vessels/barware. Could you talk about your connection to and interest in creating these pieces?

A: I am fascinated by the interaction of function and form — the way humans incorporate everyday objects into their lives and how those objects represent culture. I want people to interact with my work on a regular basis and use those objects to enhance their daily lives. Barware and lighting both serve an everyday experience. I want that experience to challenge the way our culture thinks about where objects come from, how long they last and how they interact with everyday objects that our society has pushed to be disposable.

Cotterman's Classic Series

Q: Your Phase Series was a collaboration. How did this begin? What was the inspiration behind these pieces and specifically the Phase Pendant?

A: Our Phase Series is a collaboration with a longtime friend and colleague Uri Davillier at Neptune Glassworks. This series was inspired by the phases of the moon, the idea of implied lines and forms and the contrast between curved lines and straight geometric forms.

Q: What is your favorite detail of the Phase Pendant?

A: One of my favorite details on the Phase Series is the interaction of the curved brass arc and the incomplete form of the shade. That negative space is what this series is all about. Similarly, with the Classic Series, the interaction of the exterior bottle and the silhouette of the interior object create a beautiful conversation within the bottle.

The Phase Table Lamp from the Phase Series

Q: Could you talk a little bit about your background and your skills as a maker?

A: Growing up, my father was a woodworker and educator. He gave me a strong foundation for creative problem solving and craftsmanship. He taught me woodworking, metalworking and how to structurally build things that also look good. He taught me to look at problems and figure out solutions, not rely on being taught solutions. To be a skilled maker, you only need to practice. To be a creative maker, you need to problem solve.

Q: How would you describe your design style and the range of the works you have created?

A: I am very influenced by the simplicity of modern design. I like to build in a style that is not overly complicated, but has a unique look or function. I think design is evident in all aspects of life. Everyone curates and designs their own environment. I want to help by creating beautiful objects, which can be used to enhance that environment and experience.

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