F5: Nik Bentel Shares Big Love for Other Creatives + More


Artist and designer Nik Bentel is a one-of-a-kind creative deviser of products and performances that encourage viewers to reimagine the everyday objects in their lives. After receiving his undergraduate degree from the Brown-RISD Dual Degree program and Columbia University’s Master of Architecture program, Bentel went after the things that he already loved: exciting, strange, and engaging experiences that use alternate forms of product design, advertising, and performance art.

“In 2017, when I graduated from undergrad, I dreamed of running my own studio,” Bentel shares. “This switch was more forced upon me when I abruptly quit my design job at the time and hoped for the best, trial by fire! A lot of mistakes were made along the way, but I am still here.” Since then, his studio has been commissioned by brands to generate objects that aren’t just utilitarian – they tell a story.

Man with a bowl haircut sitting on a yellow chair, wearing a blue t-shirt and a patterned button-down, looking to the side in a white room.

Today, Nik Bentel Studio is a team of four based in New York City that design and release limited-edition performative products that are often the result of collaborations. So far, that’s included everything from furniture to handbags to toys and more.

“I use a small sketchbook a lot, so much so that we designed the perfect quick-notation sketchbook that fits in your pocket. It’s perfectly square, so you can draw from every angle. I try to draw purposefully bad sketches. If I can’t sketch an idea down in under a minute or two, it’s probably an idea that is too confusing,” Bentel says.

If he were to step away from product and performance design, Bentel divulges that sculpture would be next on his list of interests. “In our tech-heavy world, it would be a blessing to have a career where I don’t have to stare at a screen to practice. But not only that, it’s something my father did, and he passed down his love of sculpting to me. I would love to really pick it up again one day.” Being able to step away from tech seemingly coincides with his attempts to flip the switch between work and home. “I try – and I use ‘try’ lightly – to leave all of my computers and work items at work. As things become more and more, I admit the line does become a bit blurred.”

Today, Nik Bentel joins us for Friday Five!

T-shirt with a surreal landscape print, featuring whimsical creatures and abstract shapes in pastel tones.

Photo: Tyler McGillivary + Daniele Castellano

I absolutely love this shirt. My girlfriend got it for me as a present, and I wear it everywhere. Beautiful surreal graphics – amazing work, Tyler and Daniele! I have been following Tyler’s work for some time now, and I am always in awe of the beautiful projects she has created over the years.

A person holding a notebook and a pencil, wearing a creative skirt made of yellow pencils.

Photo: Gab Bois

I love Gab Bois’ Pencil Skirt! It’s such an amazing mix of functionality and originality. I was introduced to Gab Bois’ work by my friend Yuliya Veligurskaya, founder of Studio Cult, who collaborated with her and made a beautiful pair of sunglasses inspired by film strips. Amazing work from these two!

Watch in a cylindrical metal casing displaying time on a digital screen, on a white background.

Photo: CW & T

I love this project by CW & T, it’s a truly unique timepiece like no other. You start the timer by pulling a chain – a tangible act to start the count – forever memorializing the moment. People have been designing timepieces for centuries, but this design is truly original, like nothing I have ever seen before. CW & T also have a bunch of other amazing projects of impeccable caliber!

A rooster standing on a bench displayed within a large book cover titled "1968 / 1986," with a pink and yellow color scheme and text designating a collaborative project.

Photo: Maurizio Cattelan & Pieropaolo Ferrari

This book was gifted to me by my undergraduate professors, Paolo Cardini and Charlie Cannon. The visuals and Toilet Paper Mag in general have been a huge inspiration to me and my practice. Headed by Maurizio Cattelan and Pieropaolo Ferrari, the emphasis on graphics and world-building that Toilet Paper Mag creates has continuously stood out to me, even in a world filled with AI dupes.

A diverse group of ten people with sitting at a dining table, smiling at the camera, with a decorative food centerpiece.

Photo: Layla Gohar

I love Layla’s work, especially for the impeccable worlds that she builds with each of her lookbooks and products. It is not only impressive but inspirational, especially not just photographing the products but also being able to sell them. I have ordered a few things from her website, and the packaging and overall experience were extremely refreshing.

 

 

Work by Nik Bentel:

A hand holding a colorful, twisted pipe with white, yellow, and blue sections, set against a red background.

Wiggle Pipe \\\ Photo: Nik Bentel

The Wiggle Pipe – A limited-edition pipe designed to reimagine a typical pipe. Made from teacup porcelain.

Hand holding a light blue card holder resembling a computer file folder.

Untitled Folder Wallet \\\ Photo: Nik Bentel

The Untitled Folder Wallet – A wallet that takes inspiration from our everyday digital environment.

Two hands using balls of white chalk to create shapes.

Moon Chalk \\\ Photo: Nik Bentel

Moon Chalk – Chalk toys designed to inspire original mark making.

A contemporary room featuring a yellow tubular chair on a patterned rug, with modern art on the wood-paneled walls.

Loopy Chair \\\ Photo: Nik Bentel

Loopy Chair – A chair designed using the manufacturing method of the traditional loopy bike rack.

Man holding a candelabra with seven unlit white candles, wearing a black shirt against a dark background.

Bloom Candle \\\ Photo: Nik Bentel

Bloom Candle – A candelabra whose design is inspired by blooming flowers. Released as a limited edition run in 2019.

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