The Brooklyn-based artist Fernando Mastrangelo may be a seasoned sculptor (and a former assistant to Matthew Barney), but when it came to developing his own line of outdoor furniture, MMaterial, things still required a degree of practise. Mastrangelo's predilection for incorporating novel casting materials like sand, sugar and salt into his work yields sculptures that are beautifully grainy in texture and slightly crystalline in form. In the case of his collection of architectural outdoor pieces, they had to stand up to the elements as well.
'[We] needed some time to test how the objects would function outdoors, while also finding materials that would be aesthetically in line with the original vision for the works,' he says. 'I'd never use rock salt for an outdoor piece, but [using] white crushed quartz allows me to get the same sort of visual effect, with the ability for the piece to be used outside.'
MMaterial made its debut at this year's Collective Design Fair in New York City, one year after Mastrangelo launched his first foray into furniture under the moniker AMMA Studio. MMaterial's 'Hauser', 'Drum', 'Strata' and 'Lithic' ranges – which include planters, a chaise lounge, an occasional table, benches and a console – combine hand-dyed cements in a full spectrum of hues with aggregates that mix porcelain, quartz and black granite, amongst others, for a lustrous, tactile finish. The uncomplicated forms make them all the more captivating.
Like any experienced artist, Mastrangelo leaves some elements to chance as well. 'The colours and textures are inspired by some of the phenomena that occur in nature,' he explains. 'We set up the circumstances for [the combinations] to occur, but then back away and let the process decide the end result.'