The High-End Designer – Carl Durkow ’14
Design consumes all of Carl Durkow’s time. His devotion to his craft is so unwavering, he proclaims he cannot spare a moment for anything else because his focus is so fully concentrated on his artistic endeavors. At just 21 years old, that fiery spirit is serving him well and Carl is already gaining international recognition.
Carl earned worldwide praise with the debut of his “Narl” chair design at the 2016 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City in May. The omnidirectional rocking chair, made from polystyrene foam, wool felt, and leather hide, was designed as a meditative place for adults to escape the world around them. A luxurious furniture piece, the “Narl” chair was recognized as one of the best exhibits of the ICFF and featured on a number of high-profile industry blogs, such as Design Milk, Design Within Reach, Contemporist, TrendHunter, and the French Journal du Design. Acclaimed for its imaginative and modern design, the cosmopolitan aesthetic of the “Narl” chair is exactly where Carl hopes to position his furniture and home accessories work.
Carl is entering his junior year studying industrial/product design at Drexel University.
“The Drexel program is great because it’s creative-thinking oriented rather than shop oriented,” said Carl. “The key to a strong design program is not just a focus on skills, but an emphasis on teaching during the creative process.”
Carl noted a few parallels between the Drexel design program and his transformative experience with the art department at MFS.
“The programs at Drexel and MFS are both small in size so that in the shops you have focused students who love woodworking,” said Carl. “I think Mr. [Michael] Webster also brought a similar design-thinking pedagogy to the art classes at MFS, which helped prepare me for college. His teaching style challenged me to start creating really original, really creative work because of this fresh higher-level thinking method for art and design. Mr. Webster guided us through design problem solving, not simply asking us to make boxes and bowls again and again. From him I learned that woodworking is more than craft or skill, it’s an art form. Honestly, I don’t think I would be where I am without him.”
Enthusiastic about furthering their art education, Carl and his classmate Coles Driscoll ’14 requested the curriculum be extended so Mr. Webster could teach the AP 3D Design course. Their appeal to study design and sculpture at the highest secondary school level was approved, and the program is now in its fourth year. Carl’s AP 3D Design portfolio theme showcased what happened to industrial materials after humans have left the earth, and his work earned the top score of 5. As a member of the first AP 3D Design class at MFS, Carl helped set the benchmark for achievement; every student who has completed the course has earned a 5 since 2014.
“One of the biggest takeaways from Mr. Webster’s class is the importance of photographing your work and it’s one of the reasons why all the AP 3D Design pieces read as very strong,” said Carl. “For those who will never see your work in person, you have to communicate your piece by showing the context as well as showing the object’s details. Artists have to take care of how you represent your work digitally, highlighting certain elements, so photography is essential.”
With such engrossing drive and love for design, Carl hopes fellow Moorestown Friends graduates who are passionate about three dimensional art will consider pursuing it at the college level.
“Design feels like something I was born to do, it’s hard to imagine not doing it,” said Carl. “For any current students at MFS that are interested, I would love to host visitors, give tours of my program, and encourage them to pursue an industrial design career path.”
To contact Carl or view his work, visit carldurkow.com.