Often it is difficult to pay much attention to the useful objects we encounter every day. We turn on faucets, drink from mugs, and use whisks, light fixtures, and belt buckles without a second thought. However, what is second nature to many, including me, was once the brainchild of a designer, or a design student like Parker Murray, ‘10.

Murray was an “innovative” art student while he attended the school, according to art teacher Patricia Kelly. However, with design, he turned that innovative spirit into a career. Currently he is working with Magisso, a Finnish design company specializing in kitchenware with smooth silhouettes and a modern feel.

Kelly made a point of showing  of Murray’s old high-school art during his presentation on January 13—an oil-on-canvas still life of a pair of oranges. Murray cringed at the sight of his old medium, but there was no doubt that while the content of the image was boring, there was a certain technical excellence to the oranges.

What struck me most about the presentation was the contrast between those oranges and his more recent work.

Merely five years later, Murray was no longer painting, but had moved on to dramatic sculpture and product design. I noticed a juxtaposition between clean modern lines and organic figures, almost like combining “The Jetsons” and “The Flintstones.”

For example, some of the first pieces Murray showed were round slabs of granite, with fluorescent lighting mounted beneath them. One of the lights looks like an eclipse, the light radiating from around the darkened circle of granite. This one contrasts the dark and light in a very straightforward way, with clean lines.

However, the other highlights the natural shapes and designs within the granite. The intricate veins of minerals within the rock are uniquely illuminated, making it appear far more natural and almost glowing.

In another piece, Murray worked digitally to design a smooth, symmetrical vase. While the piece appears simple and mathematical, the inspiration for it was again, more natural. Murray says on his website that it was “inspired by bones and my favorite flower (the orchid).”

“He was always very good with design,” said Kelly. “It’s great that now he is able to use that skill to produce functional aesthetically designed pieces.”

Next time you pick up a razor, a toothbrush, or a bottle of water, remember this: someone like Parker Murray made that design happen.

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