F5: David Mocarski Loves All Forms of Creating, From Cars to Cooking

For more than 35 years, David Mocarski has explored the boundaries of the creative process. He’s Chair of the Spatial Experience Design Department (undergraduate) and Furniture, Lighting, and Fixtures (graduate) program at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. David is also principal of Arkkit forms, an interdisciplinary design studio founded in 1982. He’s known internationally for his extensive involvement in global design.

Arkkit forms’ design work includes packaging for Baron Philippe Rothschild and Taylor of Old Bond Street London; Furniture collections for Gunlocke, Cumberland, Design Within Reach, Fiam Italia, Driade, Frag, Viccarbe, Galerkin, and Artedi; Corporate brand design and identity development for Vichan Winery, Napa Valley, and CrossLynn Vineyards; And entertainment graphics and collateral for Sony-Columbia-Tristar. A long list of contract, residential, exhibition, spatial, and architectural projects follows.

David’s work has been featured in Axis, Domus, Artforum, and Marie Claire magazines, as well as in the International Furniture Design for the 90s and California Interiors books. His Seatrain House, completed with Jennifer Siegal, has appeared on the cover of Dwell, as well as in Praxis, and the book Prefab Modern by Jill Herbers. David has received numerous professional awards, including a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, New York and four Creativity Awards for packaging design. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California.

Today David Mocarski joins us for Friday Five!

portrait of light-skinned man with short hair and round black glasses wearing black clothing

bookshelves filled with books and small objects

1. Books

Books I’m reading at the moment:
1. Yoshihiro Imai: MONK Light & Shadow on the Philosopher’s Path
2. Ingo Maurer: Light-Reaching for the Moon
3. Return on Experience
4. Learning from China: A New Era of Retail Design

upward view of architecturally detail ceiling

Shanghai, China

2. Travel

When I travel, I have favorite hotels I stay at or I research new destinations. The places I frequent the most: Berlin, Milan, Tokyo, Shanghai, Koln, New York, and Chicago. I always feel like I am coming home. I’m always researching. When I arrive, I usually do a long walk around. It’s a welcome back. If it’s a new place, there is even more to discover. Wherever I travel, I walk a lot! I look to discover. It can be a new restaurant, a shop, gallery, graffiti on the street, or just textures and surfaces I discover along the way.

modern grey building with the word BAUHAUS vertically on one side

3. The Bauhaus

I first became aware of the Bauhaus during my first year in high school. For years growing up I was drawn to art, design, architecture, and craft. But all were talked about as separate individually focused areas of study. The Bauhaus represented a new way to look at the world through the eyes of an interdisciplinary creative. There was sculpture and performance, painting and architecture, textiles, furniture, and lighting. They created dishes and buildings. They changed the course of thinking about “Art into Life.” I have been to the Bauhaus in Dessau several times, and the way they mixed art, industry, and life still resonates with me.

sideview of a grey car with whitewall tires

1963 MK 10 Jaguar

4. Collecting Knowledge + Experience

I am attracted to the unique, and that goes for everything from cars to architecture, food to life. At heart, I am a maker. I love working with my hands. I grew up with a Grandfather that had an amazing shop in his basement and beside my dad and his table saw. Making has been with me all my life. I have a great respect for tools. Tools of all kinds. Art tools, building tools and fixing tools, cooking tools –  that’s also where cars come in. I love working on them, restoring them, and keeping them clean. The cars I’m drawn to are unique in themselves: a 1970 Marcos, Lotus Esprit, a DB2 Aston Martin, a MK 10 Jaguar Saloon. All rare, unique, and special in their own ways. I find cooking just another way to experiment and express myself. That’s where my Viking Range comes in, you have to have the right tools to be able to explore.

closeup of black bowl with plated burrata cheese and peppers

Burrata and Peppers

5. Life as a Creative

The reality is whether it’s my involvement with travel, books, cars, cooking, or tools, it’s all about the creative process. Living as a creative lets you learn, confront, investigate, and experiment each and every day of your life. The only limits are one’s you create, or impose. The exciting part is one can create magic – in a funny way all we have to do is believe, let’s keep pushing until something wonderful happens. It’s addictive, push more, push farther, the love of risk, always pushing. Never wait to be told, it’s a simultaneous mix of patience and impatience. A matter of dancing with your demons in the dark and celebrating the wonderful things you can do in the light. Nothing about being a creative is easy. But it’s not by choice, you either are or you aren’t. It can’t be turned on or off, you notice everything, you always push for more. Push to own the moment. This is a daily battle, yesterday’s good, needs to be tomorrow’s better. A lot of self-questioning, confrontation, and dedication, but we need to take it on, period, no exceptions, no apologies. Why not create the impossible? Most times the moment just draws you in, addictive. We chase those magic moments.

To have the opportunity to express yourself is truly a gift, but one with consequences. Holding yourself accountable for being a creative is not easy, but well worth the journey. I have been fortunate enough to be able to explore my dreams, my voice, and my thoughts, something not many get to do.

So, whether it’s reading to gain more insight, travel to expose and expand experiences, cooking to try out some new ideas, they are important components that fuel my life as a creative.

Work by David Mocarski:

white lounge chair

Current Lounge Chair for Cumberland Furniture

winding green sofa

River Sofa

back three quarter view of lounge chair

Revo Lounge Chair for Cumberland Furniture

modern geometric white dining table against a black background

Commissioned dining table

Kelly Beall is senior editor at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based graphic designer and writer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, and enjoys sharing her finds with others. When undistracted by great art and design, she can be found making a mess in the kitchen, consuming as much information as possible, or on the couch with her three pets. Find her @designcrush on social.

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