Katie Stout's studio is kind of a mess. But it's a mess made out of stuffed chairs, rugs that look like giant hats, fringe, and fluff, ("now you've seen the inside of my brain!") and the chaos very quickly transforms itself into a sort of wonderland. When Stout was about to graduate from RISD in 2012, she wouldn't have guessed her whimsical messes would lead her to becomes the director of one of the coolest art spaces in New York (Johnson Trading Gallery), or casually win Ellen's (yes, DeGeneres) Design Challenge. She probably didn't know, either, that she would be showing work at Art Basel Miami and the Whitney Biennial—and yet here we are, right in the middle of it.
Stout studied furniture, but she's not just a furniture designer. "I think that everything I make is hyperfunctional," she explains, referencing her fan-favorite floppy chairs and hat-shaped rugs. "Everything has multiple uses. The side chairs—you can hang them off the wall or you can have them draped over your sofa. I guess you could even sit on them." Sound nonsensical? That's because her work kind of is. Between her lamp collaborations with Sean Gerstley and her soft, plush, fluffy "room" installation at Design Miami, it's clear that Stout is having more fun with her work than most of us.
Case in point? "I have all these ideas for big upholstered sofas covered in faux fur," she begins, before switching gears mid-thought. "I really want to do some commercial stuff. I really want to work at Hasbro. Wouldn't it be so fun?" Stout pauses before exclaiming, "Yes. I have to make a playdough kit."
Stout's playful demeanor and lust for spangly, colorful things is what makes her pieces so alluring to fans and galleries like Johnson Trading, where she's currently working on a "fuzzy-chair-themed" exhibition.
But, she stresses, just because her pieces are artful, doesn't mean they're precious. "Even if it's that side chair that people hang on the wall. I want it to be touched and manhandled and damaged and dirty," she says. "I want people who own these things not to just stare at them. I want people to interact with them. That's what I like about furniture: it gets scratched and it gets worn down." Sounds like an invite to lounge around on some of Stout's crazy-cool rugs. We're taking it.
Find Katie Stout's latest creations at katiestout.com.