I met the founders of The American Design Club a few hours before the opening of their benefit show Threat, an exhibition of objects designed to protect you in case of a break-in or some other 'threatening' situation. All of the 54 pieces were submitted as part of an open call, though most come from AmDC members, an expansive collective of some of the most talented young designers working today. Just being in the gallery space with core members Kiel Mead, Annie Lenon, Henry Julier and Steph Mantis as they put the finishing touches on the show—adjusting the lights, arranging handouts, stocking the bar with bottles of Brooklyn Beer—feels like the beginning of something that's going to be really big one day very soon.
AmDC held their first exhibition in 2008. "We were young then," says Kiel. To be fair, they're all still really young, but in the last four years they've gained considerable momentum, hosting a series of exhibitions each year in addition to representing at NYIGF, ICFF and the Architectural Digest Home Design Show. Of course, all that costs money, hence the fundraiser, which you can visit by appointment—a worthwhile endeavor if you're inclined. The interpretations of defense mechanisms run the gamut from funny to passive to quite beautiful. "Human Catcher," by Ladies and Gentlemen Studio, is riffs on a dog catching device, only it's made from a gorgeous mix of shining silver and copper metals.
Object Trust created a paper bag that comes with three simple instructions: 1) Open bag, 2) Place on head, 3) Enjoy your break in. The outside of the bag reads "Take What You Want," while the inside is lined with images of palm trees and white sand beaches meant to bring the wearer to a happier place. It's a great complement to Reed Wilson's "Defense Mat," a doormat printed with the message "The neighbors have better stuff." Mantis also took a humorous approach with her pizza ninja stars made from actual slices of pizza from her family's Greek pizzeria in Maine, cast in resin to make ninja throwing stars. It sounds funny and they look more like cool desk objects than weapons, but these hunks of preserved pie could do some serious damage.
Rounding out the show are ten, wooden baseball bats that ten designers were asked to treat like a blank canvas. A few went the aggressive route, turning their bats into medieval torture devices with spikes and rusty saw blades. Harry Allen, on the other hand, used Swarovski crystals to spell "Namaste" in cursive at the end of his bat. As you can tell, the range of objects is as diverse as the designers on the American Design Club's roster. Make an appointment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.