DOZIE KANU the young neo-revolutionary designer
Although Dozie Kanu has been labeled a designer, his practice is about adding layers of functionality to his work as an alternative to the dissociative subjectivity of sculpture. Kanu also aims to challenge public perceptions of design by bringing together concepts that reach far outside the realm of function, as that of an artist.
Despite their sculptural lines, the furniture Kanu designs are above all, functional. Dozie kanu is a neo-revolutionary with an insatiable thirst for creation. At only 26 years old, he managed to impose his own signature, recognizable and very strongly inspired by the American street culture.
However, he has developed a very strong aesthetic sense in his creations, transcending design standards. His world combines design, hip-hop and fashion with spectacular ease. In his universe, a rim serves as a chair pedestal whose seat and backrest are cast in raw concrete. Further on, a block of black marble, hoisted on industrial wheels, becomes an unexpected table with a surprising bold design.
Despite his parents encouraged him to study law or medicine, he chose to study Production Design for Film at The School of Visual Arts in New York. He worked as a freelance on commercial projects in New York and even for a production company.
He said during an interview that he was influenced by filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrik, Paul Thomas Anderson, Steve McQueen or Wes Anderson, who, by the way, according to Kanu is a genius in production design.
In all humility and vulnerability, he prefers to devote himself to the functional aspect of his designs, which he considers less rigorous and to which he is not obliged to find a deep meaning in his works because it frightens him so much.
Aware of how the American system encloses the black man in stereotypes confined only to sport, bodybuilding or music, Kanu wants to show that other paths are possible and that contemporary art and design – still elitist – can work to change the perception of American society on American blacks. In love with Torey Thornton‘s paintings, he does not want to be tagged as a black artist, or a Nigerian artist. He considers himself above all as an international artist even if he is interested in the reality that comes with the fact of being black.
Born in Houston, TX, Kanu lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal. In 2016 he began working with design dealer, and co-founder of Salon 94 Design, Paul Johnson. In 2017 Kanu first exhibited with Salon 94 in the group show MIDTOWN at the Lever House in New York.
In 2018 Kanu was invited to put a progressive outlook on RIMOWA’s timeless icon. The collaboration with RIMOWA unfolded through three separate but intertwined activations: a short film, an installation, and a printed publication in KALEIDOSCOPE issue 32.
Kanu’s recent group exhibitions include “MIDTOWN”, which took place at the historic Lever House, in Manhattan, and “Blow Up”, curated by Felix Burrichter at Friedman Benda in Chelsea, New York. In 2018 Kanu was awarded the Hublot Design Prize, and exhibited his first solo show in London, “Humane Alternatives” at Soft Opening. In April 2019 Salon 94 Design will present Kanu’s first solo show with Salon 94 Design.