Jonathan Nesci is a furniture and exhibition designer based in Columbus who works with a variety of producers in the Midwest that use conventional and digital fabrication processes to execute his designs in a myriad of materials and finishes.
What piqued your initial interest in designing your product(s)? My introduction to design was through the secondary auction market. I started to buy and sell vintage 20th and 21st century design in 2001 and it opened my eyes to a whole market and culture that I knew nothing of at the time.
What principles do you use when designing? I want to add to the design dialogue that has preceded me. I see no need to start at zero right now when amazing work has already been done. I try to re-contextualize what has already been created and add to the conversation. I do this through the use of technology for fabrication as well as paying attention to the various sub-worlds outside of what we know as design. I want my work to be marked in the time it was created all while dreaming of what the world will be like in the future.
Who and/or what influences your design style? How would you describe your design aesthetics and values? I pursue clarity, not only in form but with honesty in material and technique. A lot of my designs come from a strict geometric constraint combined with a series of specific fabrication and finishing methods.
What comes first for you, the design materials or the design concept? Materials are very important to me as well as the concept, but I can’t put a hierarchy on the two.
Could you describe the process of creating a piece – from conception to finish? The creative process as well as material selection and labor process, too? I design an object over and over and over again to get to the final form. I rarely am set on a form from the beginning of a project. It’s really an evolution that involves research, model making and self critique. I’m also work very closely with the fabricators of my work and pull from their knowledge of production capabilities.
What is your favorite tool, and why? My first thought is to say it’s the computer, but I’d say one of my most valuable assets is the talented fabricators I work with. They really bring so much experience and form to my ideas.
Describe a piece you’ve created that you are most proud of. What was special about it? An design installation in 2014, titled 100 Variations, New Reflections on Eliel Saarinen and the Golden Ratio, an installation in the sunken courtyard of the First Christian Church by famed architect, Eliel Saarinen. Produced by Indianapolis-based curator, Christopher West, with support from the Columbus Area Visitors Center, Columbus Museum of Art and Design, and the Haddad Foundation, 100 Variations stood as the pilot project for what is now know as Exhibit Columbus.
Describe the commissioning process. What are the best and worst aspects about doing commissions? An ideal commission starts with a great client. Obviously, input from a client is essential however it’s essential that the client trusts the process and my capabilities and intentions.
What advice you would give to aspiring designers like yourself? Learn as much as you can from the work that has came before you and see if you can add to what has already been created by making it a product of your time.
What is one thing that the creative/design community can do in Indianapolis to help grow an audience for custom or hand-crafted work? Become a patron. Support and help champion their practice.
Dream commission/client? I’ve done a lot of projects for galleries and interior designers but would also like to do create a work for a larger furniture manufacturer and see that work put into a larger production.
What makes your work different from anyone else’s? Unlike a lot of makers, I’m not the one physically fabricating my work. I can weld, machine, and paint, but nowhere near the quality that I would be proud of presenting. I rely on very talented people who are experts in their individual fields and manage the production of my designs with these various vendors.
What’s your most rewarding memory in your business? There is an amazing feeling every time a project comes together and the idea becomes a physical thing. It’s immensely satisfying.
View Nesci’s designs on his website.
Retail locations for Nesci’s designs:
Casati Gallery | Chicago
Volume Gallery | Chicago
Morlen Sinoway | Chicago
Patrick Parrish Gallery | New York
The Line | New York
Matter | New York
The Line | LA
Oliver Gustav | Copenhagen
Plus Design | Milan
Giovanni Beltran | Miami
Vive Ma Maison | Ghent