Jamie Harris is an award-winning contemporary Artist and designer who is well-known for his work with glass. Jamie graduated from Brown University and now lived and works in New York City where he is recently attending the prestigious ICFF contemporary furniture convention. He has been creating art, and functional designs--mainly lighting and sculptural accent pieces--since 1998 and has become renowned for his use of color and abstract style.

Jamie has created various kinds of sculpture and interior décor, but his chandelier works have proven to be especially popular.

To date, his creations have been showcased in publications such as “Architectural Digest,” “New York Magazine,” “American Craft,” “Town & Country,” “Oprah Magazine,” “House & Garden,” “Contemporary Glass and International Glass Art” and “Metropolitan Home.” Additionally, his work has been displayed in museums and galleries including Museum of American Glass in new Jersey, the Mobile Museum of Art in Alabama, and Glasmuseum Ebeltoft in Denmark.

Jamie Harris recently discussed his designs, art, and more via an exclusive Interview.

Sculptural furniture and lighting

Blasting News (BN): When did you first get interested in design and how did you break into the furniture and interior design industry?

Jamie Harris (JH): I’ve been making art professionally for most of my life. I was lucky enough to fall in love with glass making as a teenager, while exposed to glassblowing at a summer arts camp. As anyone who’s ever seen glassblowing in person can attest, it’s a magical act, and I found it completely mesmerizing. Over the last two and a half decades, my approach and my interest to the material has changed, from an interest initially in the pure athleticism of the craft to my current more abstract interest in how its design limits can be pushed.

As an artist and designer, I’ve been making unique hand-made lighting for the last decade, and the ability to illuminate my creations brings back some of the magical interplays between light and form that naturally happens with molten glass shaped by hand at the furnace.

BN: Your designs are beautiful and abstract with a sculptural flair so are you inspired by abstract art and do you consider yourself more an artist or designer?

JH: I’m inspired by abstract art. Some of my favorite artists that I draw inspiration from are modernists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Mark Rothko, Ken Nolland. I find myself often working on color ideas that I draw from visits to favorite art pieces.

I work both as an artist and a designer—they occupy different places in my brain. My lighting designs represent about half of my output, and the other half is my sculptural work--you can get a sense of both from my website. I think it would be impossible for me to concentrate on one or the other side; I find switching between modes continually energizes and rejuvenates my thinking. My design work tends to be cerebral and calculated, my sculptural work tends to be ethereal, emotional, more abstract, but there is a definite interplay between the two modalities that fuels my thinking in all of what I do.

BN: How many kinds of functional art have you produced and do you have any favorite designs?

JH: I began my career as a designer working in more of a functional vein, designing vases and bowls for Tiffany & Co., but I’ve mostly left that sphere. Even my lighting, which is technically functional, I consider to be more sculptural accent lighting--and I apply the same mindset to my furniture. Although I’ve always a deep appreciation for craft and for the technical precision of advanced glass making, my interests have become more broadly dramatic, in a sculptural sense, over the years, and I find myself less interest in functionality than in trying to achieve a sense of drama and emotional appeal in all of my work.

In answering my “favorite design,” I think I find myself drawn to my most recent piece, my “Satellite Chandelier” which features curved glass discs with a multi-banded incalmo technique. “Incalmo” is the Italian term for the advanced technique of layering glass in a banded design. These discs in this piece include a mirrored gold rim, set on an oblique metal framework with a dramatic sense of balance.

In general, I’m a restless designer! I constantly have to push myself to work in new and innovative ways. What keeps the work challenging for me is to continue to push my vocabulary in the field and to continue to work to delight, my viewer.

Installations and exhibitions

BN: What kinds of locations has your work been installed in and what sorts of venues would you most like to see it displayed at or in?

JH: My design work finds itself pretty equally at home between residential settings, as well as hospitality settings such as restaurants, hotels, and even some corporate interiors. They provide different challenges, and since all my work is custom made, what I most enjoy about the work is in designing a piece specifically for the environment it’s living in. In a successful piece, there’s a dialogue between the piece and the environment that it is exhibited in.

BN: Which events, projects and showcases are coming up for you in the near future and is there anything else that you want to talk about?

JH: I’m working on a number of exciting projects right now. In my sculptural work, this summer I’m completing some of my largest, semi-life-size cast glass sculptures for a public entrance of a new hospital wing at the Stony Brook University Hospital in Long Island, New York.

I’ve currently working on installing a number of fun residential lighting projects right now, as well as beginning the design process for a number of unique chandeliers to go inside a high-end residential condo building in Manhattan. Shows are a necessary but draining, part of my creative process, and post-ICFF, I’m excited to have some time to devote in the studio before going back to the drawing board for the next new thing!