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    Karu – Melanie Murata

    Karu – Melanie Murata

    1. Where were you born and where are you from ?

    I was born in Lima, Peru and I’m based in Los Angeles, spending time throughout the year in Florence and Tokyo. I’m nomadic by nature and recently spent 3 years living and working in Italy and just got back from spending some time in Tokyo and Kyoto.

    2. What is your first memory connected to the art world ?

    For a brief moment, I spent the early years of my childhood growing up in a small town nestled in the Peruvian Andes Mountains. Memories of precisely fitted Incan masonry, bright colored textiles, and days spent in pure nature felt like art.

    3. Have you always worked in the art/design field ?

    From an early age, I loved art classes — color theory, scale and proportion, and even calligraphy came natural to me. I began to take curiosity in architecture at the age of seventeen when I decided to write my senior thesis on sustainable design. From there, I studied architecture and design in Florence my first semester in University and became enchanted with the level of architectural mastery I saw from Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci, and Gio Ponti. From there, there have been some evolutions in scale of works but the field has always been the same.

    4. What led you to the design creation ?

    After cutting my teeth in the world of architecture with Gensler in Los Angeles, Italy taught me an even deeper layer of architectural rigour, focus, and the art of slowing down to achieve extraordinary results. After working for Piero Lissoni, I became inspired to scale down from architecture for a moment and pursue the art of collectible furniture design. During the pandemic, my family and I retreated to the Tuscan countryside for some peace in a small town known for Alabaster. While the world was quiet, I became immersed in the world of old-world traditions working side-by-side with master artisans and from there the first collection was born. Carving with emotion, contemplation, and techniques that have taken a lifetime to master.

    5. How would you describe your creative process and it influences ?

    My creative process begins with the desire to create real sustainability. The idea of using timeless natural materials to create pieces that will last beyond a lifetime. Having grown up in the United States in a world where discarding furniture after a short lifecycle is considered normal, returning to old-world traditions was coming back to my Incan roots. There is nothing more beautiful than imperfect marble, alabaster, wood as the foundation for any project. From there, one can carve and discover the infinite possibilities of the material.

    6. Could you describe a typical day of your work ?

    I work in alignment with non-linear bursts of creative energy where I become immersed in deep focus and presence. My day consists of sketching in my moleskin journal, transforming sketches into technical drawings in AutoCAD, modeling forms in 3D on the computer, and communicating with my team. Working between time zones means I am often up late and early to rise. At the moment, I am working in a wide range of architectural scale from working with hotel and residential development clients on the interior architecture and FF&E side, while also working on new collectible design pieces at a much smaller scale, paying meticulous attention to detail. A unique perspective I have which I simultaneously hate and love but is my fate, is having a pulse on the industry as the interior design specifier while creating new pieces as an artist.

    7. Why did you choose the specific materials you work with ?

    I only work with natural materials and old-world techniques to create contemporary forms with unexpected details that are rigorous. My favorite materials are Calacatta Gold Marble, Transparent Alabaster, and Satin Bronze. In this phase of my career, I am working with a carefully contemplated palette of materials, but who knows what will happen tomorrow.

    8. What are the technical particularities of your creations ?

    Particularities that make my pieces one-of-a-kind is the level of craftsmanship and emotion behind the scenes. During the prototyping process, I push the material to the limit without compromising the old-world hand technique. There is a human imperfect quality in every piece that becomes the essence and the soul of the design. For example, the Etérea tables have wabi-sabi edges that are unfinished, yet chipped carefully to follow the silhouette of the form. For the bookends, I sourced a specific Alabaster stone that had to be just the right measurement and from there an edge was removed and cut in half creating sides that are perfectly cut, while the edges remain exposed.

    9. What advices could you give to beginning artists who would like to create sculptural design works ?

    If you have a vision that no one sees you should still push through the obstacles and execute anyways. This has been true for myself and other artist friends — we hear “that’s impossible” or it is never going to be stable” but if you engineer and prototype with enough tenacity and unapologetic optimism, you might just get close to your dream vision.

    10. If your works had to belong to a design movement, in which one would you define it ?

    Craft revival

    11. What designers have influenced you ?

    Charlotte Perriand, Gio Ponti, Axel Vervoordt, Peter Zumthor, Kengo Kuma

    12. What contemporary designers do you appreciate ?

    Quinoces Drago, Duccio Maria Gambi, Studiopepe, Studio Morghen

    13. What contemporary artists (in any kind of art) have you been inspired by ?

    Yayoi Kusama, Carla Cascales Alimbau, Pia Riverola, Studio Morghen Caterina Licitra Ponti, Piotr Dabrowa

    14. If you had to summarize your creations in one word or sentence, what would it be ?


    Proust Questionnaire with very short answers (one or a few words) :
    (The Proust Questionnaire is a set of questions answered by the French writer Marcel Proust. Other historical figures who have answered confession albums are Oscar Wilde, Karl Marx, Arthur Conan Doyle, Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Cézanne…)

    1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

    Embracing the journey

    2. What is your greatest fear?

    The end of love

    3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?


    4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

    Rigidity — it’s a mirror

    5. Which living person do you most admire?

    My husband

    6. What is your greatest extravagance?

    Being a nomad in all senses

    7. What is your current state of mind?


    8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?


    9. What is the quality you most like in a man ?

    The strength to love

    10. What is the quality you most like in a woman ?


    11. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

    Well then

    12. Which talent would you most like to have?

    Dancing well

    13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

    My desire to be somewhere where I am not

    14. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

    To be announced

    15. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

    A hummingbird

    16. Where would you most like to live?

    At multiple locations at one time

    17. What is your most treasured possession?

    My sketchbook

    18. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?


    19. What is your favorite occupation?

    Foraging and doing artistic things

    20. What is your most marked characteristic?

    Making people laugh through the use of oddly specific or unspecific vocabulary

    21. What do you most value in your friends?

    Intimate conversation

    22. Who are your favorite writers?

    Friedrich Nietzsche & Oscar Wilde

    23. Who is your hero of fiction?


    24. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

    Charlotte Perriand

    25. Who are your heroes in real life?

    The women in my family

    26. What are your favorite names?

    Kaori and Kei, my kids’ middle and Japanese names

    27. What is it that you most dislike?

    The dark side of technology

    28. What is your greatest regret?

    None so far

    29. How would you like to die?

    Having done everything I set out to do

    30. What is your motto?

    One day at a time

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