Pull Up a Chair with Sam Mobley

To help celebrate AIGA’s centennial year and rich history, AIGA chapters from around the country were asked to participate in the “Facing Forward: AIGA At 100” exhibition. The exhibition features custom-made chairs, icons of our history that recall the very first meetings and events of AIGA.

For AIGA Colorado’s submission, we enlisted the help of local artist Sam Mobley, whose work ranges from silkscreen printing, furniture design to highly unique (and pretty amazing) product design. Sam graciously took time out of his busy schedule to produce a chair that is the essence of our great state and design culture.

We recently pulled up a chair to chat with Sam about his concept for the chair and where he gets his inspiration from.

AIGA CO: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Sam: In college, I studied Graphic Design and spent the first five or so years of my career working in design studios of various sizes and specialties. Then, about ten years ago, I quit my job to pursue more of my own creative interests including silkscreen printing, furniture design and fabrication. I always enjoyed working with my hands and was aching to get back to it and spend some time away from the computer screen, so I started Sam’s Garage and have been bouncing around ever since, designing and/or fabricating all kinds of specialty items for people, making products and art, printing, and doing graphic design work. I love having a mix of tasks on my plate.

What was your concept and process in making AIGA Colorado’s chair for the “Facing Forward” exhibition?

My concept was to try and make the design be driven by the creative process rather than having a definitive end result in mind. I’ve used this method in the past and always like the results that it yields. So, I decided to start by making a series of wood block prints with words and images that to me represented Colorado and/or design, the number 100, etc… Then, after making a number of prints off of the blocks, I chose the ones that I liked, scanned them in, and did some additional collaging of the the elements onto the chair in photoshop. Hopefully creating something that really feels hand-crafted.

Your product designs are really unique. Are you influenced by a particular style or artist?

I am definitely influenced my mid-century pieces, Scandinavian design, and love the clean lines found in Japanese architecture. I also really love seeing the work of classic studios like Hatch Show Print, where the prints show markings of the process that was used to create them, and how that adds to and becomes a part of the design. I like to incorporate printing into my woodworking projects.

Do you have a routine creative process or does it differ from project to project?

To some degree, it differs from project to project, depending on which medium I’m working in, but there are aspects of each project that seem to follow the same path. Every project usually starts with a meeting out of which the design parameters are established. From there, things usually roll around in my head for a bit until I can visualize what it is I am about to create. Ideas get laid down on paper and eventually become the finished products. Even when I’m working on products to sell, it pretty much starts the same, the meeting might just be a conversation in my head, or over a beer with a friend.

Who is your design hero?

Wow! This is a hard question. So many people have influenced my designs, but if I had to name one person, I guess it would be my father. He built the house that I grew up in, and was an engineer at Samsonite for most of his career. He can design and build anything. I have great memories from when I was young of going out with him to these dusty shops that were fabricating suitcase prototypes and just being amazed by the things people were able to make, of the processes they knew and the amazing tools they used. My dad always had a woodshop at the house and I spent many, many hours there tinkering when I was young. If I wanted something, he would teach me how to make it.

Favorite typeface?

Berthold Akzidez Grotesk.

AIGA is celebrating its 100th year! How does it feel to be a part of such a storied organization and what does AIGA mean to you?

I am truly honored to be a part of the 100 year celebration! The AIGA been a great influence on my career over the years, introducing me to so many talented creatives and their work!

Where do you see design going in the next 10 years?

I believe that people are getting tired of so many things being mass produced and of poor quality. And, I constantly see more people stepping away and making things by hand and of high-quality. I hope over the next 10 years, that design will continue to head in this direction.


We are so grateful to Sam for making such a beautiful design that embodies AIGA Colorado. You can see the “Facing Forward: AIGA At 100” exhibit at the AIGA National Design Center in New York City until April 4th. Click here for more details.

Be sure to check out all of Sam’s awesome work on his website and send him a message to thank him. Thanks again Sam!
By AIGA Colorado
Published February 22, 2014
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