Meet Carl Durkow, the designer of the Spindle Candles
54Celsius: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and background?
I grew up in a semi rural area of New Jersey, in a house full of windows, surrounded by acres of woods. I grew an appreciation for the outdoors and the environment we create within it. My father was an engineer who designed and built the house as a project for himself. From a young age, I observed his process and learned a lot as a bystander. We had a small shop in the basement where I grew my love for making things. I was an only child and lived far away from my friends, so I had a lot of time to myself to explore my interests.
In middle school I was first introduced to traditional woodworking in our shop class. I was lucky that my high school shop was the meeting place for a woodturners club and as a result was better equipped than most. I chose to take the shop and art classes any chance I could.
54Celsius: How did you get into design? Where did it all begin?
I studied product design at Drexel University in Philadelphia. An applied art seemed the best choice for my busy hands and passions for objects. The process of design appealed to me as a way of thinking and understanding the world. It also allowed me to dive deep into projects and test and feel things in real life. The process of prototyping and obsessing over minute details was my happy place; I could spend forever in the prototyping loop chasing down details until they felt right.
In design school I spent the majority of my time in the shop experimenting with new processes and materials. Exploring the limits of different materials was an extremely exciting thing because I learned that what I love in design is Play.
That’s where I set out to be with my own design practice- a place to play and explore within my own parameters. I have the ability to experiment and learn new processes at a whim. I feel so lucky to have the internet at my fingertips, taking the process of research and exploration down endless roads.
54Celsius: What about your artistic process? How do you come up with ideas for projects?
I try to approach projects with a naive sense of wonder- I think it can breed fresh ideas. Not treading new grounds but coming into them with a perspective that is novel and exciting is what drives me to chase down a seemingly endless road.
I find inspiration in the forms of mundane details around us, some intentional but usually not. I feel very inspired by the idea of thoughtfulness in design, things that make the user or viewer feel special, as if they found something someone else had left for them. It’s that connection one feels to the designer/maker when viewing something that makes each decision so real.
54Celsius: What inspired your collection of candles?
Finials, fence posts, knobs, insulators, bedposts and banisters. Spindley objects of ornamentation.
The shapes I created all felt like pieces of a puzzle, each able to stand alone or to be used as some type of ornamental cap to a post. Some were planned but most were spontaneous experiments on the lathe that I had created and set on a shelf to appreciate and inspire new pieces. Something about them felt fresh and in their wooden forms their story seems unfinished, but given a function and purpose they gained a new life.
It’s really crazy when you look at one of these with a little wick standing on top of them, although purely functional, I find that placing small wicks atop the wooden turnings to be integral in assessing each shape as a candle. It serves as a little punctuation atop the forms.
54Celsius: What’s next? Are there any new projects that you’re working on and very excited about?
I’m working on some benches, candlestick holders, and maybe my biggest project, my house. Designing for my own space is proving to be harder than designing for other people, but it’s fun, because I make the rules.