Caroline Kable at Radiator 2023: Poetic Designs with a Healing Power
When life almost swept away from the New York-based artist and designer Caroline Kable in an accident, she was left with a traumatic brain injury – and a two-year process of healing her body and mind. Thoughts, memories, and anxieties melt for her. It is seemingly impossible to grasp the moment as the boundaries between present and past blur. Writing became her tool to channel her emotions and untangle her thoughts. In this place of solitude, she returned to the act of making, accepting her altered brain chemistry and letting it guide her through the process.
Fusing her passion for writing and for crafts, Kable realizes evocative functional objects – such as the “Mother” Bench, “Whisper” Bench, or “Weeping Willow” Bench – that reflect her trauma yet radiate a healing power. Her one-of-a-kind pieces have been selected for this year’s rendition of the “Radiator” show, May 19-25 at the Refinery Hotel during NYCxDESIGN, centred around the concept of “Catered Comfort” – a thematic that in the hands of Kable takes on an introspective and critical turn.
View all pieces by Caroline Kable, including the “Whisper” Bench, here >
What is emblematic of Kable’s work post her accident, is how she intuitively mergers disciplines out of a place defined by her emotional state and the need to make sense of her transformed consciousness. Each object is a testament to her journey of healing. “The best way I can recall what I’ve felt is through what I’ve written. Stone happened to feel more sincere to me than paper, I’ve always felt a softness for it,” the American designer explains. “Engraving my words in stone has been purely therapeutic. I think I can emote more of what I’ve been through with one piece than I can impart in hours of speaking with someone.”
Informed by her background in metal fabrication, Kable approaches her stonework and engraving through a sculptural lens. The final pieces are a result of a natural process where the object and text are in direct conversation with each other. “They tend to fit together quite nicely without too much compromise on either part, making the way the text is inscribed on each piece unique,” Kable states. She compliments each object with metal bases that undergo several iterations until she feels satisfied with the composition.
For her piece “Mother”, on show at “Radiator” together with “Whisper”, Kable paid tribute to her mother and women at large who are the backbone of our society. “This piece to me is a counter-monument to… I guess monuments in general – traditionally made to memorialize the achievements of men […]”, she explains. Despite the haunting and eerie atmosphere, Kable’s writing creates as she describes herself as a “liquid” that “oozes away”, her mother clearly symbolizes hope, and this strength Kable receives from her is manifested in the “Mother” Bench. “I actively sought to create something that would very deliberately impart the power of the love and care of another person – very specifically the immaculate power of women and how they hold society together. This was my monument to my mother, to honor her and women like her the best way I could,” the designer emphasizes.
“[T]he process of making work after my accident has been incredibly therapeutic as both the familiar comfort of making, which I love, and the added aspect of writing became the only venue to effectively communicate my experience.”
– Caroline Kable
The fine line between trauma and hope is embowed in every object of Kable’s, allowing us a glimpse into a chapter of her life that simultaneously, also speaks for the theme of this year’s edition of “Radiator”: “Catered Comfort”. “I’ve always been wary of too much comfort,” she states. “I’ve never felt at home with traditional furniture typologies, either. I’m more interested in interactions with architectural elements like staircases, windowsills etc. I think that impacts my designs; the strange dimensions and lack of total conviction of what they’re prescribed to be.” Given Kable’s general dislike for modern interior design and her recovery from a traumatic accident, her oeuvre challenges her audience to question the meaning of comfort within design today in a touching and poetic way.
Check out Caroline Kable’s work at “Radiator”, May 19-25 at the Refinery Hotel during NYCxDESIGN, and browse her unique objects through ADORNO’s curated selection. Visit her showroom here >
Caroline Kable is an American artist based in New York City. Her newest collection surrounds the narrative of her recent traumatic brain injury, during which time she began writing again. This process of writing prose has become married to her love of making as words are engraved, etched or hammered into each piece. With a background in metal fabrication and inspired by a childhood spent on farms in rural Maryland, her work intuitively combines stone, metal, wood and text.