Artists under Lockdown: Steven Haulenbeek
A designer using this forced pause to develop his processes in Chicago.
The Design Edit (TDE): How are you keeping busy in self-isolation?
Steven Haulenbeek (SH): I have been keeping very busy, albeit in a way very different from normal. My wife and I are sharing childcare responsibilities now, so my time in the studio has been much more sporadic and often at odd hours. That said, I have had the opportunity to take a deep dive into some new variations on my Ice-Cast Bronze and Resin-Bonded Sand processes. I’m creating mock-ups and patterns for future larger-scale pieces in cast bronze, as well as developing new textures using the sand process. Part of me is really enjoying this time. I don’t mean to diminish the seriousness of the pandemic, but it’s been nice to get into some new experimentation as opposed to production work. I have also been working on a new book about my Ice-Cast Bronze collection in collaboration with my friend and designer Michael Savona. The book will include several drawings and images throughout the development of my process and will likely be available by the end of the year.
TDE: Everyone’s pace of life has slowed down considerably; what is the impact of this new rhythm on your work and home life?
SH: The only thing that has slowed down are client projects and commissions, which is obviously very important to the studio, but aside from that it feels like time is flying by faster than ever! My wife and I have a one-year-old, Frank, who keeps us very busy during the day. Attempting to juggle childcare and also staying productive within our individual design practices means that we are both trying to squeeze more work into less time. As I write this I am keeping an eye on the baby monitor. If I’m lucky I have about 30 minutes left of nap time! I have been going to the studio after Frank’s bedtime at least a couple times a week and staying very late. It reminds me of the old days as a young design student – except that it’s much harder to get up in the morning these days.
TDE: Do you have a favourite self-isolation recipe to share with us?
SH: Yes, the Classic Manhattan. Make, drink, repeat.
- 2 parts bourbon – Four Roses Single Barrel
- 1 part sweet vermouth – Carpano’s Antica Formula
- 3 dash Angostura Bitters
- 2 maraschino cherries
TDE: What is saving your sanity under lockdown?
SH: Two things that are keeping me sane: our back yard and my studio. We have a pretty small apartment near downtown Chicago, but we are very fortunate to have a great outdoor space. We love our home but at times it is important to mix things up – even if it’s just stepping out back for a while. We Chicagoans have long winter months, so now that it is getting nice out it would be torture not to get outdoors. It’s also great to have my studio right now. It serves as a place that I can go to be alone and tinker with materials while I listen to my podcasts. This helps me decompress and be a more pleasant person to be around.
TDE: Which online exhibition/gallery viewing room, or other internet offerings have caught your eye?
SH: I haven’t been following any gallery viewing rooms these days, but I have been online searching the far corners of the internet. I’ve been researching some topics that have emerged in my work including invasive vine species, barnacles and other examples of the built environment interacting with the natural environment. I’ve also been searching for new materials and ordering samples to experiment with.