David Wiseman (born September 11, 1981 in Pasadena, California) is an American artist and designer whose work is notable for its intricate craftsmanship and dialogue with traditional decorative arts. Wiseman is best known for his signature cast bronze and porcelain branch chandeliers, and his immersive porcelain and plaster ceiling installations, but his work spans from faceted blown-crystal tumblers and porcelain vases to full-size bronze gates and dining room tables.
|Born||September 11, 1981|
|Alma mater||Rhode Island School of Design|
|Known for||branch chandeliers and immersive porcelain and plaster ceiling installations|
Wiseman was described as “producing the most inspired decorative art in America” in the May 2015 issue of Town and Country magazine. His work, ranging from editioned small objects and sculptures to expansive, all-encompassing installations has “internalized centuries of global design, and the resulting, exquisitely detailed creations—whimsical confabulations of metal, porcelain, and crystal—are deeply rooted in his love of the natural world.” Designer and head of art fair Design Miami Rodman Primack says Wiseman “is not afraid of the decorative, as this is not a pejorative term for him, nor is he afraid of outright beauty.”
In a review of his 2015 show Wilderness and Ornament, Artsy notes, “Bronze and porcelain are used to preserve otherwise fleeting moments, like the ephemeral bloom of a cherry blossom, a cracked egg, the twisted form of a lily of the valley, or a hanging hare after the hunt.”
Wiseman credits his awe for nature as his motivating inspiration: “My goal in creating work was always to bring nature indoors," he says. Admiration for designers who were part of the Vienna Secession, like Dagobert Peche and Josef Hoffman; the French artist duo Les Lalanne; as well as traditional patterns from India, France, Korea, and Japan are a large part of Wiseman’s inspiration. “A century ago artists found a way to make ornament relevant to contemporary life, before postwar standardization wiped it away,” Wiseman says. “I’d like to make it relevant again.”
Born and raised in Pasadena, California. Wiseman received his BFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2003. After a brief stint in New York, Wiseman returned to Los Angeles to focus on “making ceilings for clients, with porcelain and plaster canopies of branches—trees that looked like they were emerging through the surface of the wall. Those branches evolved into chandeliers, and that led to a whole other body of work.”
While still in school, Wiseman began selling his wall-mounted Deer Hat Hanger in Los Angeles and New York boutiques. His senior thesis, titled Wall Forest, included the deer heads alongside a selection of resin-cast tree branches that appeared to emerge from the walls, and in 2007 was featured in DAAB Books' compendium Wall Design.
Upon graduation from RISD in 2003, Wiseman was offered a position at the studio of New York-based artist Todd Oldham, where he worked on Oldham's book Handmade Modern and created functional and decorative items out of found objects. During his time in New York, Wiseman’s work was shown and sold at several venues including the Whitney Museum, the MOCA Store in Los Angeles, and boutiques in New York and Los Angeles including A Détacher and Plastica. In 2005, Wiseman returned to Los Angeles to create his first porcelain and plaster ceiling installation in a private residence in Hancock Park, LA. This ceiling was commissioned by the clients’ decorator, Rodman Primack of Phillips, who represented Wiseman at the time, and with whom Wiseman has maintained a close working relationship. Wiseman describes his subsequent exploration into creating bespoke ceiling installations as “porcelain and plaster canopies of branches—trees that looked like they were emerging through the surface of the wall. Those branches evolved into chandeliers, and that led to a whole other body of work.”
Artworks and Exhibitions
Wiseman’s work was institutionally recognized in 2006, with the inclusion of his “Cherry Blossom Canopy” installation at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum’s National Design Triennial, Design Life Now, described by Cooper-Hewitt curator Brooke Hodge as “exquisite, almost Rococo.” In 2008, Wiseman signed on with R & Company, a Manhattan-based design gallery representing contemporary and historical designers within the international design community, where his first two solo shows were held - David Wiseman in 2012, and Wilderness and Ornament in 2015.
Wiseman’s work was commissioned in 2011 for the West Hollywood Library, where he created a unique 80-foot plaster, porcelain, and metal tree species, which he named Platanus bibliotechalis. In 2010, commissioned by decorator Peter Marino, he created a signature porcelain Lily of the Valley vine installation for the Shanghai, Tokyo and New York flagship Dior stores. His work has been acquired by Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY), and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum (Providence, RI). In addition to the 2006 Design Triennial at the Cooper-Hewitt, Wiseman's work was exhibited in 2014 at the Bernardaud Foundation in Limoges, France. Currently, his work is shown at international art and design fairs such as Design Miami (Miami and Basel, Switzerland), FOG Art and Design (San Francisco), The Salon Art+Design (New York City), Collective Design Fair (New York City), and Zona Maco (Mexico City), and has been displayed in collaborative exhibitions at Gallery Seomi (Seoul), Kasher Potamkin (New York City), and Hedge Gallery (San Francisco).
Wiseman was selected as an honorary artist to create a series of awards recognizing important donors to the LA-based environmental organization TreePeople. The 2015 award was presented to Ira Ziering, son of influential philanthropist Marilyn Ziering.
Wiseman was honored by the Pacific Design Center to receive the 2017 Star of Design
Much of Wiseman’s work consists of private commissions for residences across the country and internationally. In 2013, Wiseman's Branch Illuminated Sculpture was chosen for U.S Embassy in Madrid, Spain, by designer Michael S. Smith, as part of the Art in Embassies program. Unlike many artists, Wiseman thrives on the collaboration with his clients. For a wall installation in a private residence from 2010, he worked closely with a family to develop a site-specific installation that referenced their history - a literal family tree represented by blossoming wisteria vines twining around a linden tree, and crowned by a porcelain owl. Wendi Murdoch, a collector of Wiseman’s who commissioned a plaster and porcelain ginkgo motif for her ceiling, said, “David captures nature in the most beautiful and elegant way, using old-world techniques and craftsmanship, but with a modern twist.”
|Private Residence||Hancock Park, LA||2006||Rodman Primack|
|Alturas Foundation||San Antonio, TX||2007|
|Private Residence||Manhattan, NY||2009||Bill Georgis|
|Kanders Residence||Greenwich, CT||2010||Fox Nahem|
|Dior Flagship Stores||Shanghai, Tokyo, New York||2010-2012||Peter Marino|
|Murdoch Residence||Manhattan, NY||2011|
|West Hollywood Library||West Hollywood, CA||2011|
|U.S. Embassy||Madrid, Spain||2013||Michael S. Smith|
|Jessica McCormack Studio||London, England||2013|
|RISD President's Mansion||Providence, RI||2014||Director Rosanne Somerson|
|Private Residence||Manhattan, NY||2015||David Mann, MR Architecture + Decor|
|Private Residence||Manhattan, NY||2015||Robert Couturier|
Dior Lady Art Project
December, 2018. After collaborating with the House by sculpting lily-of-the-valley ceilings and mirrors for the boutiques in Shanghai, Tokyo and New York, he conceived two creations as part of the Dior Lady Art project. The totally transparent large bag was made of perforated leather and represents a remarkable technical feat. On the medium-sized bag, Dior gray and traditional Lady Dior production techniques are paired with unique charms adorned with porcelain and brass lily-of-the-valley.
In 2006, Wiseman teamed up with renowned Bohemian glass artisans at Artel Glass in Prague to create a series of faceted blown-crystal pieces. The Glacier collection includes small vodka glasses, whiskey tumblers, sconces, vases, and hanging pendant lamps. Artel sells these items from their store in Prague, and Wiseman’s studio sources them for inclusion in his Collage Chandeliers and other pieces.
For his first solo show at R & Company, Wiseman collaborated with Haley Alexander Van Oosten, an LA-based scent designer and founder of artisan perfumery L’Oeil du Vert to create a scent-diffusing objet d'art with three separate custom scent options. The diffusers consisted of a porcelain blossom-shaped bowl on a bronze base with an unglazed porcelain stamen, onto which the scent oil could be painted. In recent years, for Wiseman’s second show, Wilderness and Ornament, their collaboration developed further into a new form: a spherical, pebble-textured gold- or silver-plated box containing “gems” of scent-soaked ebony.
In 2014, Milan-based rug manufacturer Amini and R & Company put together a collaboration between artists represented by the gallery and artisan Tibetan weavers working from Kathmandu, Nepal. Wiseman’s original rug design was based on his bronze Garden Gate Doors, and integrated many of his signature patterns and motifs, including branches and a small bird, but Wiseman says that “after spending some time with [the weavers] and visiting their spiritual places, I integrated some of their patterns. The clouds on the bottom right corner of the rug appear on their temples and textiles.” The limited-edition rugs, in two color-ways of indigo and gold, and Delftware-inspired blue and white, debuted at Design Miami in December 2014.
Huevos de Los Angeles
In 2014, Wiseman collaborated with friend and fellow RISD grad Adam Silverman, former director of Heath Ceramics, to begin their ongoing series, Huevos de Los Angeles. The collaboration to date has consisted of a series of Silverman’s self-described “'lumpy, maybe beautiful” ceramic eggs interacting with Wiseman’s customized bronze elements, in what the artists term “transformations of Fabergé eggs. Several of the eggs are wrapped in Wiseman’s Islamic jali inspired tracery pattern, while holes in the surface of another egg cradle snugly-nestled, highly polished studs of bronze.
The first pair of the series was exhibited at Wallpaper* magazine’s Handmade installation at Salone del Mobile in Milan. They were later acquired by the Rhode Island School of Design Museum.
List of Exhibitions
2015 Wilderness and Ornament R & Company, New York
2012 David Wiseman R & Company, New York
2004 A Détacher, New York
2015 R & Company @ Hedge, Hedge Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2014 Intense and Fragile, The Southwest School of Art, San Antonio, Texas
2014 Watt's Up?, Bernardaud Foundation, Limoges, France
2013 Art in Embassies, U.S. Embassy, Madrid, Spain
2013 Risk and Certainty in Uncertain Times, RISD + Ventura Labrate, Milan, Italy
2010 Masters of Linen, Luce Dal Lino, Salone del Mobile, Milan, Italy
2011 Object D’Art - II, Gallery Seomi, Seoul, South Korea
2009 New Works/Old Story: 80 Artists at the Passover Table, Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, California
2008 Beyond Organic: Design in the State of Nature, DesignMiami, Miami, Florida
2007 California Design Biennial, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, CA
2006 Design Life Now, National Design Triennial, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, New York
Input/Output: Experimental Furniture, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia + RISD
2005 California Design Biennial, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena, CA
2003 Future Ec(h)oes, Renewable Brooklyn, Brooklyn, New York
Artist Talk with Brooke Hodge, 16 May 2015, R & Company, New York, NY
Environment to Object, artist talk in conjunction with R & Company @ Hedge, 30 October 2015, San Francisco, CA
… OR MAYBE IT’S THE WEATHER? The Los Angeles Design Movement in 2015, 25 March 2015, LA><ART Keynote Event, Westweek 2015, Pacific Design Center, West Hollywood, CA
Artist Talk in conjunction with the Intense & Fragile exhibition, 28 January 2015,Southwest School of Art, San Antonio, Texas
A Conversation with David Wiseman and Douglas Durkin, 15 January 2015, FOG Design+ Art, San Francisco, California
Critical Making: Making Critical Outcomes, with Rosanne Somerson, Tanya Aguiniga, Samantha Dempsey and Shawn Greenlee, 10 October 2014, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island
The New Luxury, with Samantha Brooks, Joan Behnke and Grant Kirkpatrick, 10 May2013, La Cienega Design Quarter Legends 2013, Los Angeles, California
The Practice of Patronage, with Zesty Meyers and Dan Rubenstein, 16 April 2013, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York
New West Hollywood Library Artists, with Frances Anderton, Shepard Fairey and RETNA (Marquis Lewis), 18 October 2011, West Hollywood, California
Out There, Doing It lecture series, with Mark McManus and Instant Days (Andrea Lenardin Madden), 5 October 2005, LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, Los Angeles, California
Wiseman’s work has been featured in a number of stores internationally, such as A Détacher (New York City), Gumps (San Francisco), the MOCA Store (Los Angeles), Plastica (Los Angeles), the Whitney Museum (New York), the Artel Glass store (Prague), Future Perfect (New York), Beams (Fukuoka, Japan), Arp (Los Angeles).
Wiseman’s work has been featured in The New York Times, T Magazine, Architectural Digest, LA Times, Town and Country, 1st Dibs, Departures magazine, Artsy, the Huffington Post, and The Robb Report among others. Wiseman was also featured in the book Wall Design, published by DAAB Books.
- "The Secret Gardener". T Magazine. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
- "This 33-Year-Old is Producing the Most Inspired Decorative Art in America". Town & Country Magazine. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
- "Natural Gifts | Architectural Digest". Architectural Digest. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
- Hodge, Brooke (2012). Snyderman, Evan (ed.). David Wiseman. New York, NY: Whitehaus Media. ISBN 978-0-9704608-6-8.
- "David Wiseman Goes into the Wilderness of Decorative Arts". Artsy. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
- "David Wiseman's nature-inspired pieces elicit wonder and even a creeping belief in magic". latimes.com. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
- "David Wiseman Invited to Design Piece for the President's House". EXPspace RISD. Retrieved 2016-04-18.
- "U.S. Department of State - Art in Embassies". art.state.gov. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
- Wall Design. DAAB Books. 2007. ISBN 978-3866540101.
- Dechter, Katrina (October 2004). "The Deer Guy". Paper Magazine.
- "Introspective Magazine - Spotlight - David Wiseman". 1stdibs. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
- "Because at Least One Person on This Page Will Be Justly Famous by 2010". NYMag.com. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
- Anderton, Frances (October 27, 2005). "Currents: Los Angeles -- Ceilings; An Arbor Of Blossoms, Always Abloom". New York Times.
- Agostinho, Elisa Chemayne (Winter 2007). "Organically Designed: Young Sculptor Shapes the World Around Him". Luxe Magazine.
- Nelson, Steffie (January–February 2007). "Branch Out". C Magazine.
- "Design Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006: David Wiseman". archive.cooperhewitt.org. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
- "The Lady Dior Seen By David Wiseman". Dior. Retrieved 2018-12-06.
- "david wiseman for artel". Design*Sponge. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
- "Collage Rug in Wool and Silk - David Wiseman's Most Ambitious Show Yet | Departures". www.departures.com. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
- "Cultured Magazine - Winter 2014". www.cultureddigital.com. Retrieved 2015-11-10.
- "Clay mates: Wallpaper* Handmade exhibitor Adam Silverman has been hard at the wheel ahead of Salone 2015 | Design | Wallpaper* Magazine". Wallpaper*. Retrieved 2015-11-10.