Lara Knutson is an Artist, Industrial Designer and Architect who works in New York City near MoMA PS1.
She received a master’s degree in Industrial Design and a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Pratt Institute and believes her work is informed by the interplay of light, space, materials and structure that unite these two disciplines.
Lara’s work is sold in design stores and museum shops around the world, including MoMA and the Cooper Hewitt Museum. Her soft glass series is in the permanent collections of the Corning Museum of Glass and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
How did you find yourself in the arts – or how did the arts find you?
I started out as an architect but realized I wanted a more hands-on career. My nights and weekends after I graduated from architecture school, were spent in my home studio experimenting with ideas without the pressure of needing to know where it was all headed. This lead to an obsession with reflective materials. At the time I created sculptures and jewelry. The ideas for the two sculptures in the Smithsonian and Corning Museum were born back then and the same for the jewelry that is now in the MoMA Design Store.
Who has been an influence in your career?
My professor from grad school, Bruce Hannah, had an enormous influence on me. He would never sit down and try to teach us anything, it was always more like we were all hanging out talking about ideas and the stories he told seemed to be what I needed to hear to move forward with my work. While I was his thesis student, he never judged my interest in reflective materials and let me be myself and follow my interests.
When you hit a creative block, how do you move forward?
I’m a believer in the “work hard and take a break” method to creativity. Ideas come to me when I’m not thinking about them and it’s really all about trusting my inner voice and not judging it.
How do you define success?
Success to me is about being able to create the work I want to create and having the time, space and resources to do so.
What relationship do you hope viewers have to your art?
My work makes people curious what’s going on when they see it in person. There is something about the materials I’m working with that transport people when the light hits it right. There is a kind of heart beat to it because of what the viewer experiences when they walk around it and witness how light interacts with the surfaces and it forces people to be in the moment.
What has been an important lesson you have learned during your career?
I’ve learned that keeping a sketchbook next to me at all times pays off in the end. Drawing and writing all of my thoughts and ideas is really the best way to create new ideas because ideas make ideas, it’s parabolic, not linear.
What advice might you give to your younger self?
I would tell myself to not hold back. In fact, I’m still working on ideas that I had 20 years ago and wish that I had pursued them further back then. The older I get, the more I just want to go for it.