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Listen to the conversation between Caitlyn and Vincent Pocsik.

Vincent Pocsik’s work exudes a biomorphic quality, but rather than mimicking or replicating forms in nature, Pocsik carves his materials to reveal the inherent sensuality and perversions within nature. An artist and trained architect, Pocsik designs and builds furniture in his Los Angeles studio, KISCOP. Working predominantly with wood, he uses digital fabrication and hand-carved craft techniques to develop surreal works of sculptural furniture and lighting, and anatomically-inspired collections.

His work takes pleasure in obscuring nit-picky distinctions between art and function. Each piece is an argument for the simple truth of its own anomalous being. Much of his work feels sentient, embodying the vitality of trees and imbued with rippling, looping movement and occasional figuration like hands and feet. It’s no surprise, then, that Pocsik speaks about noticing the nuanced feelings that emanate from his work as he crafts it. Ultimately, he allows those feelings, embedded in and emerging from the work itself, to guide objects to their final form.

“Wood is a very porous material and absorbs a lot of potential energy,” says Pocsik. “When I work with it in my hands, that also introduces something to it. In its end result, when a piece is in somebody else’s home, that energy will be there.” In this conversation, Pocsik speaks about his background in architecture and the influence of bodies, geological time and nature on his work and process. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Studio Fenice: Could you speak about the interaction between your background in environmental science and architecture—how they inform each other and how they have transformed into your current work in furniture design and sculpture?

Vincent Pocsik:
I studied art in high school and then college. I ended up studying environmental science, which is a loose, overarching term, because the focus of that degree was actually in architecture. That led me to grad school at SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture) here in Los Angeles. SCI-Arc is a black sheep school, very avant-garde, pushing different boundaries, much more art-based—they don’t even say that you’re studying architecture. They say it’s the study of “architectural thinking.” It’s more about an approach to a problem and how you deal with it. One of the biggest things I use in my practice from architecture has to do with technique. I use a lot of digital design tools and digital fabrication tools. A lot of my practice is a balance between digital fabrication and hands-on, craft approaches—combining those things. The digital part I very much learned through the architectural world. How to break down an idea into different parts to be able to understand it and build it.

Studio Fenice: It sounds like there's this undiscovered space where craft approaches meet technology. How does that lead to your own techniques? That overlap between old and new in your process.

Vincent Pocsik:
I’m not really a good woodworker so I ask questions to real woodworkers if I need to solve a problem. But in not really knowing how to properly do something, I learn how to properly do it. Approaching it in the wrong way allows for looseness. I think a lot of digital fabrication stuff, for instance, has to do with precision. When it comes to the more sculptural pieces that I do, I try to not let that precision guide the whole process and really allow for looseness. It’s like finding little pockets of glitches in those systems and combining them into my own thing. That allows it to become mine—not really sticking to any rules in terms of woodworking or digital fabrication, just sticking to the feeling or idea that wants to be conveyed in the piece.

Studio Fenice: It sounds intuitive and sensory, the way you're navigating. Not to diminish the technical expertise you do have that you're likely underplaying. What is your mindset when you're working that way? What sort of creative space are you entering?

Vincent Pocsik:
I happen to be making new work right now for an art gallery—sculptural wall pieces—and I’m also designing a new furniture line in conjunction. Not directly influenced, but I’m doing them at the same time so it has this crossover. The process? It’s a lot of just looking at things in the world. Books, reading, finding the moment. I think I’m always looking for an emotion in the work rather than an idea. That can lead to a lot of different things. Finding that emotion and then allowing it to have influence, which affects the outcome. A stool or a piece of art each have their own different wants and needs. Overlaying emotion with what the piece wants and needs creates something different. It’s kind of schizophrenic, I guess.

Studio Fenice: I know you love working with wood—what are your favorite trees? Do you spend much time outdoors?

Vincent Pocsik:
I do spend a lot of time outdoors these days in the ocean. I surf and also love going camping and going on hikes. I love being in nature and it has a strong influence on my work, but I’m also influenced by the city. I’m in a very industrial area of L.A. and I like the juxtaposition of that with the trees. The turmoil going on around these trees—I love the beauty they hold within that context. At the same time, I would love to move my studio to the middle of the woods one day.

My dad was always obsessed with wooden boats and woodworking with hand tools. I come from a very blue-collar background in regard to working with your hands, so having something really tactile was almost necessary for me. I think there are things that are passed on. As soon as I started working with wood, I understood that it was innate. Whereas, on a computer I definitely don’t feel that way. Trees are majestic and they obviously provide us with life—literally the air we breathe. They also hold all this energy. They’re very porous material and absorb a lot of potential energy. It’s a blessing to then take that and make something new with it that people use. Hopefully, when I work with it in my hands, that also introduces something to it. In its end result, when it’s in somebody else’s home or wherever a piece might end up, that energy will also be there.

Studio Fenice: How did mushrooms get translated into your physical design process with the mushroom lamps?

Vincent Pocsik:
A lot of my work has to do with sexuality and sensual things. When I walk through nature, I feel like it’s super perverted. That always amazes me. You see these forms that we relate to as sexual forms, or body parts that relate to sexuality, all over nature, repeating and repeating. A lot of people have said those lamps look a bit phallic. I don’t want to make something that’s in-your-face with those ideas, but that notion in nature is there for me.

Studio Fenice: Decay is another interest of yours. How does the promise of decay inform your design?

Vincent Pocsik:
I think of geological decay. When water flows over a rock and slowly decay happens over time. I look at rock formations and think, “How did that happen?” It’s so organic and so soft. We obviously don’t see it because we have no perception of geological time as humans. I’m interested in making forms that are influenced by slow decay. The softening of things over time that carve out functions in pieces.

Studio Fenice: How does California inspire your work?

Vincent Pocsik:
Mostly California just keeps me sane by being able to go outside and surf. I also think Los Angeles has a lot of influence on my work culturally. The art scene here is really strong and growing. There are so many good artists here. You can go on a hike three hundred and sixty five days out of the year and also get the cultural aspect—people here are doing really amazing things.

Studio Fenice: Tell me about the new wall pieces and furniture collection you’re working on.

Vincent Pocsik:
I have a lot of scraps because a lot of my work is templated and then each template is cut out on the bandsaw, which creates all these light curves and wild shapes. For a while, we were throwing them out because we just didn’t have anything to do with them, but it seemed like an excessive amount of waste and always bothered me. I began making mosaic panels out of scraps, cutting them to different shapes and fitting them together, gluing them and layering them. I’m also using some of the scraps in furniture pieces. I’m trying to find a balance between this French rustic influence—or a more refined version of that—and also something that can be a bit beat up in terms of its use. People won’t feel bad about moving the stool around or standing on it to paint.

Studio Fenice: Once you discover what a piece is, do you then begin to reproduce it?

Vincent Pocsik:
For the wall pieces, there are things that I’m looking for. If I find it, I try not to reproduce, but instead find that thing again and again. They’re all unique objects. With the furniture, if I’m focusing on a stool, once I find what I’m looking for in the stool, then I’ll make a collection based on that piece.

Studio Fenice: It sounds like there's a lot of room for surprise and accidents to become discoveries. Is there anything else you feel is a big part of who you are as a designer?

Vincent Pocsik:
The human body or animal bodies in relation to our built environment or the natural environment is big in my work. A lot of my work is in reference to the body or even specific body parts. I think about whoever’s body is actually around the piece and how that interacts within the environment where it lives.

Studio Fenice: You mentioned earlier in the conversation that there's an emotion that becomes infused in the pieces that you're working on. And you’re also very aware of your body. So much of your practice feels like it’s about touch and knowing through sensing. Are you very aware of your body when you're working?

Vincent Pocsik:
Mostly because it hurts. I like that it’s physical, it feels good. Something that I want to bring into my work now is showing how much physicality is put into it. I think some of the older work hides how hard the physical process is. It seems in the world today that the physicality of things becomes less and less important, but it’s something that I’d like to hold on to.

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