SUBJECT: MIGUEL HARRY
Miguel is currently in Seattle to balance his passions in a mix of new pursuits through a newly formed maker space/studio. Offsetting, his career in tech with more personal and entrepreneurial endeavors. Miguel has a remarkable aesthetic way and is one of those jack-of-all-trades creatives. He maintains masterful Intent in each medium explored. We’ve been drawn to Miguel’s approach for quite some time. In his work, there’s a clear sign of his formal background in engineering, with all the evidence of a highly considered Industrial design acumen. But there’s this other thing, the presence of a meticulous human hand. An individual who’s obsessed with learning, he’s keen on maintaining his side projects and broadening his creative abilities across a wide variety of spaces.
He hails from Medellin, Colombia, and came to the US to attend Art Center College of Design. He’s worked for the world’s leading companies in tech & lifestyle whilst kicking off Abstract Material - A playground for all things form & visual. Miguel remains keen on exploring Colombian cultural elements and reimagining them through form + utility by pulling from the wide pool of skills he’s amassed. Endeavoring to explore all of the world's simple objects that often go overlooked.
It’s clear Miguel will leave an impression on the design world. And, we’re very excited to share his Object Story.
THE OBJECT: Traditional Ceramics
Creativity was encouraged by my Grandmother. Time with her cultivated a curiosity that's ever-present. I would watch her go through the careful process of creating these delicately painted ceramic vessels and found myself intrigued.
It’s really the entire category of traditional hand-made everyday use cooking and serving objects I’m profoundly inspired by.
Food is a cultural staple in Colombia. Each type of food has an almost specialized tool for serving or eating. These were things I noticed growing up thanks to my grandmother’s pieces. On my last visit to Colombia, I spent a day in El Carmen de Viboral and had a chance to work up close with the local artisans - about 20min outside of where I grew up. I learned more about the traditional methods and was lucky enough to hand-paint pieces of my own. I was delighted, having never realized growing up that this gem was in my own backyard. I was instantly more respectful of the process, it took patience, with a series of deliberate & calculated steps. I relished learning a new skill. I came back to pick up the finished piece a few days later, it was all so rewarding.
A contrast to my world of instant methods for mass production and rapid prototyping common in Industrial Design. The traditional methods are humble, often having standardized motifs, and I always find them so beautiful. My whole life I was used to seeing a particular motif of bright blue flowers and having seen the process up close, now I know what goes into each hand-crafted piece. These mugs, plates, and bowls are tools. They are meaningful objects that took care and consideration to bring to life and they enrich special moments like eating around family and friends.
I find the most personal meaning in my Grandmother’s hand-painted ceramics. But, there are endless artifacts in Colombian food culture I love!
My favorite dish is Bandeja Paisa, it’s an amazing combination of grains, meat, dairy, and vegetables. It is often served as “cazuelas” in a black cast iron bowl which is super hot and then nested in a woven wicker basket to shield you from the high temperature. This exceptional combination of materials is beautiful. It’s easy to find these types of material pairings throughout Colombian art and design. All of the consideration that goes into these simple and staple objects is astounding. It took being away from Colombia for four years and coming back to really SEE it. I never paid much attention to their richness before. And, working with the local Artisans, participating in the process made me appreciate them even more. I’m keen on integrating ceramics & reimagined Columbian cultural Object icons in my future endeavors.
Tell us about a time it was hard to be yourself, or when being yourself led to a breakthrough?
For me, it’s about accepting my own journey. I pivoted halfway through engineering school - moving to a new Country to pursue design studies.
I move from one medium to another often, accepting growth, and changes, but being fluid and always intentional. I want to explore a lot of things creatively. And, everything I want to explore I’m sort of obsessive about and I go full throttle. I’ve dabbled in fine art, lettering, photography, video making, and ID, (Tech & simple objects). I like to explore different mediums, take what I learn, and move on. I find myself connecting all the dots in unexpected ways. It seems to be my pattern.
If I'd stayed in Colombia, I’m sure I would have become a successful engineer. But it didn’t feel natural to me. I knew I wanted to leave and pursue my creative journey to a point of failure or breakthrough. It’s a personality trait I just can’t shake. I’ll always pivot, exploring new things. And, I’ll always do so with intention. I’m on a journey of creative learning and experimentation.
At the time, pursuing anything creative in Colombia was not a viable option. Now the creative landscape is very different and I am very proud of the people that have pushed the boundaries of art and design from within. There are so many amazing designers working with their local means of production to elevate Colombian design, it’s truly inspiring.
WHAT’S SOMETHING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT MIGUEL, THAT YOU’D WANT EVERYONE TO HEAR?
This is a perfect segue to my inability to stand in one place creatively for too long. I got my first tattoo 7 years ago with a friend from school on a trip to Singapore, and more than 20 tattoos later, it has become an obsession of mine. Although not such a natural transition from my Industrial Design profession, I’m seeking a new way to approach the craft and have started to take tattooing more seriously.
I started off by tattooing myself a handful of times and then convincing my close friends to let me practice on them. I now have a private studio that I work out of on the weekends when I’m not working on industrial design projects. I’m still processing what this all means for me long term. What’s most exciting though, is this was the path that reconnected me with drawing.
The output is not a piece of tech, it’s not an object but in some ways it kind of is. Tattooing so far has allowed me to connect with people in a very meaningful way. These are things that people choose to carry with them forever and that’s why I’m so drawn to them. It feels good to draw again and go back to where my creative journey started, it’s very fun!