Adam Nathaniel Furman on his brand of ‘f*** you’ happiness

Designer and artist Adam Nathaniel Furman discusses the creative influence of his family, and the idea that only ‘difficult’ work should be taken seriously

“It’s a kind of ‘fuck you’ happiness,” says designer Adam Nathaniel Furman, of his bright, colourful and occasionally psychedelic work. On the surface, his pieces seem designed to put a smile on people’s faces, but don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all there is to it.

“Sometimes people have said it’s like an acidic smile,” he adds, “But I think ‘fuck you happiness’ is more appropriate because I’ve taken so much flak.”

According to Furman – who originally trained in architecture and fine art, and has worked at practices including OMA and Ron Arad Architects – the architecture world doesn’t always welcome his approach. He describes the community as holding strong, and often conservative, opinions about what can be considered ‘serious’ work.

“In architecture school I was told this is disgusting, cheap, rubbish, this is makeup, it’s stupid, it’s fashion,” he told CR. “You must be serious, intellectual, masculine, profound and deep. And to be profound and masculine you have to be white, minimal, structured, and do this list of ridiculous things that have equalled seriousness and depth. There’s still this weird homophobia and misogyny floating around the architecture world in how they deal with aesthetics. You’re not allowed to express identity, and most definitely not allowed to use the great power of colour, pattern and ornament to express anything”