Stanley Ruiz: Brooklyn-based industrial designer working with sustainable materials; supporter of fair-trade organizations, 32

() - September 24, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - • “Sustainability is making use of resources we have while making the same resources available for future generations.  I think the world has always been ready for it, but it’s such a complex issue that the powers that be need to get really involved. Many exporting companies in the Philippines have been exercising sustainable practices even before the term “green” was in fashion, mainly by using natural materials that can be replaced within a few years like bamboo, rattan, gemelina wood and abaca, or waste and by-products like shells and paper pulp.”

• “Right now I’m obsessed with wordplay, repetition, and overwhelming the senses. My latest piece is called “Barricade.” It’s a screen/divider with more than 900 toy soldiers perched on oak slats. I made it specifically for the SF20/21POP exhibition in San Francisco to benefit the SF Museum of Modern Art.”

• “I relate to tree branches and twigs as memory triggers, reminding me of my childhood. Tree parts, regardless of species, are more universal than other natural materials like rattan or abaca, which by default is endemic to certain locations and thus limiting the connection to certain groups of people. Furthermore, in my quest to “un-design” objects, twigs and branches complete the pieces, leaving me the task of designing only the structures that hold them.”

• “Once I have an idea, I usually grab a piece of paper and do a quick sketch. Though I have a number of sketchpads, I find it more effective to draw on loose sheets of paper. It captures the moment better. Though it is in vogue to design using a computer nowadays, I’d rather take an old-school approach and will use the computer as a last resort.” 

• “I think about design all day long — in the subway, at work, in the kitchen, while browsing the Internet, while reading, and most especially while walking. I love long city walks and New York is a great place to do that. I have a studio where I can make a mess and work on my prototypes.”

• “Brooklyn = Raw Energy. When Ayn Rand said “New York is activity and activity is life,” she must have been referring to Brooklyn, New York. There are probably more artists, musicians, designers, writers, and other creatives living in Brooklyn than any other city in the US, or the world. Even established names in the industry look up to Brooklyn to scout the “next hip thing.” This critical mass is a constant source of inspiration, community, and activity that happens on many levels on a daily basis.”

• “From my time (living) in Bali, I learned a lot about craft processes and techniques. I trained in ceramics and pottery when I was there. The penchant for anything handmade was borne out of this experience.” 

• “Designing products for the market involves a great deal of responsibility — to the factory owners, workers, and consumers. Though I have limited say about how a product gets manufactured, I only deal with factories that are ethical and give fair wages as well as humane working conditions to their employees. When I moved to Bali, I got connected with Mitra Bali (http://mitrabali.com/), a fair trade organization.”

• “I would like work with agricultural products and waste. I am currently working on some furniture pieces made of rice and its by-product.”

• “My dream design is to make something imaginative and compelling that is accessible to the common folk.”

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Ruiz has designed pieces for design company Jonathan Adler and also had his designs sold at designer boutiques like the US Propeller, Takashimaya and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in the US, Spazio Sette, Dovetusai Fleux and Rue Di Rivoli in Europe. His “Raw Clock” piece will soon be available at Urban Outfitters stores.

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