We See You@ICFF:Johnny Swing
How many pairs of shoes or glasses do you own?
Glasses I probably have five, but I can only find one. Shoes, this is my pair of dress shoes and I have a pair of workboots. I have farm animals so I have a pair of rubber boots. I eat them. I slaughter them myself.
Think of something else that ICFF can stand for.
I need a moment for that one. I’m not that great with… I’m terrible with words. No. With word problems and word acronyms. Um. No.
If you could build a piece of furniture out of any material in the world, what would it be?
Wow. That’s a great question. I’ve had a lot of interviews, I’ve never had that question. I’d love to be like Damien Hirst–“let’s make it out of diamonds!” But for me it’s more about taking something worthless and making it special. I thought about hand-cutting letters and making the couches be like poems.
What is the desktop picture on your computer?
I think it might be one of myfarm animals, but it could be one of my kids. OK – it’s my boys skiing.
Do you sketch with a particular kind of pen or notebook?
Whatever I can find at the time. I like Sharpies but they bleed through to the next page. A really soft pencil. I’m one of those guys that if it’s a hard pencil it just cuts the paper.
When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
I knew I wanted to make things when I was like three. I have memories of my parents having dinner parties and I’d set up a tollbooth in the hallways and they had to buy a drawing from me to get through to the dinner party. I started showing in the East Village in the eighties, I was a sculptor. I’ve always wanted to make things.
What’s the favorite thing you’ve seen here so far?
I really like that guy Judson Beaumont’s work. He’s got the sofa that looks like a sardine can. And he reminds me of me, he’s making this stuff where most people are like “Good luck dude.” But he’s got a shop with eight guys and everything looks well-made. I like the fact that if someone makes something they care. There’s not much, I don’t think there’s much care left out there.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I’d shoot myself.
What is your least favorite color?
I guess beige. Tan. That’s a weak color. Brown is getting cool. But really, you know, tan’s never done anything for me.
Do you have a hero?
I’m such an egotist. OK, really, my wife or my mother. My mother was a painter, my wife’s a painter. They’re really pure artists, and really the only people I trust, although my mother’s dead. There are not that many people I’ve found with good taste.