Carl Durkow isn’t new to D.I.Y. projects—as a kid, he was often tooling around in his family’s New Jersey workshop, so when he headed to Drexel University, it made plenty of sense to him to study industrial and product design. But as he settled in, he quickly realized that he was more interested in sculpture and craft processes. As he says, “I realized the only way to make my mark on the world was to create things that were really different than everything else. Handmade became my new identity.” Landing this angle, he explored his ideas while working with the hyper-cool artist duo the Haas brothers and, in 2017, started making his own super funky projects, producing lamps with finger holes as touch sensors, bean-bag-esque layered chairs, and bulbous, totem-like candles.
In his studio in Philadelphia, Carl combines his perfectionist product-development skills with old-school craft techniques. For his crazy cool candles, for example, he uses beeswax from a bee farm one hour from his hometown in New Jersey and spent many hours honing the ergonomics and exact color of the finished products, which are formed in handmade bronze molds. For him, it’s all about bringing humor without making anything jokey—or, in his words, “How can my work be a unique take on that object, and how can I properly execute that in a serious, yet really whimsical, way?”