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Jason Phillips shapes global influences into award-winning designs

Youngest recipient of ARTS Product Designer of the Year Award

YOU COULD say Jason Phillips has had a good start.

Jason PhillipsJason Phillips became the youngest recipient of the ARTS Product Designer of the Year Award.

     Phillips, 26, was the youngest ever recipient of the ARTS Awards Product Designer of the Year last winter, and from a very early age has been involved in his family's business, The Phillips Collection in High Point, N.C. It was, he will tell you, a childhood punctuated by trips to Southeast Asia, Europe and throughout the Americas, where he learned a great appreciation for global design.
     His high school didn't have enough training in the arts, so he sought out the Huntington School of Fine Arts in New York, where he was selected to study in France under the direction of noted American sculptor Joseph Mack. After graduating, Phillips headed to the University of Michigan, where he concentrated in industrial design and became a digital artist.
     "In an industry that so often references historical design, I find myself of a modern generation, pushing the boundaries of what is appropriate," Philllips said. "My designs, however different, do have a balance to their form, a refinement of the details and an appreciation of the material and finish."
     Phillips said he is inspired by a number of things, from fashion to current events to automotive design and architecture - and said he is influenced by such designers as Richard Frinier, Patricia Urquiola, Jaime Hayon, Marcel Wanders and others.
     Great casual furniture design involves "clean lines, minimal forms and intelligent use of modern technology," Phillips said. The materials he most often likes to work with are woods with figured grains, metals and glass, as he shifts from shiny to rough, natural to plastic and dark to light.
The River Stone Cocktail TablePhillips received the Pinnacle Award for his River Stone Planters. The River Stone Cocktail Table, shown here, is available in two sizes and five finishes.
The work that has made him the most proud involves his outdoor furniture collections including River Stone, Log and Freeform. He prefers the use of bronze, rusty copper and glossy black or white in new shapes, proportions and scale.
     Others have taken notice. In addition to the ARTS Award, Phillips won a Pinnacle Award and was featured in the New York Times last year.
     "The recognition is a nice result of a lot of hard work," Phillips said. "I must give a lot of credit to my family and employees who offer constant reinforcement and encouragement of what I create."
     What has he learned so far? "It's all about taking risks and putting yourself out there," Phillips said. "You will always have critics. The goal is to rise above it and soldier on."


Click here to read all the designer profiles in this month's "Behind the designs" feature.

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