Audrey Large is Crafting Physical Objects Fit For The Digital World

The Rotterdam-based designer sheds light on the processes and inspirations behind her otherworldly creations.

Design 
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These days, we’re more accustomed to engaging with physical objects via digital means, rather than in real life. But somehow, when you’re standing in front of the work of Audrey Large, it feels like you’re doing the exact opposite –what is in front of you doesn’t seem as though it belongs in our tangible world.

Large, who hails from France but is now based in Rotterdam, is fast becoming one of the faces of design’s new guard. Her fantastical objects appear to freeze a digital image in time, resulting in something that could, at once, be from the future and the past.

Having graduated from the prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven in Holland, her work began to catch the attention of influential curators. In 2021, she was chosen by Valentina Ciuffi to create a small solo show at Nilufar Gallery during Milan Design Week, which proved to be a pivotal moment in Large’s timeline thus far. “I was lucky to have that deadline,” she says. “It kept me going throughout the different COVID periods. Everything was stopping or was delayed, but I had a bit of structure.”

Her relationship with Nilufar, the Milan-based gallery founded by Nina Yashar, has remained strong ever since. In 2023, she followed up with a larger solo exhibition titled Celestial Proceedings, which was widely considered to be one of the must-sees amongst the jam-packed Salone del Mobile schedule.

Now, back in her native France, Large is being recognised by the Maison&Objet fair at the Rising Talent Awards, in particular for her ability to blend the digital and physical worlds with a level of unrivaled finesse. Her inspiration, she says, comes from a love for images – ranging from graphic novels to movies. Design objects in their more typical sense aren’t of particular interest to Large, whose shiny futuristic artifact-like pieces stand out amongst the sea of chairs and tables.

“I’m not good at making things with my hands, but I’m very good at making images”

“I didn’t ever really use the phrase ‘I want to be a designer’”, she tells me, “but I did know that I wanted to work in the creative field.” At high school, Large preferred working on the applied arts subjects, and when she got to the Design Academy, she was encouraged to push this ability further, by experimenting with her design language. “I realized that I’m not good at making things with my hands, but I’m very good at making images,” she said. “I began to translate the images that I was making on the computer into digital manufacturing, then fabrication, finally bringing the material into real life.”

The resulting aesthetic is truly unique. At face value, there’s no denying that Large’s sculptures are created through a computational process, but the level of detail makes you question how on earth the forms came to be. “I work with a pen and a graphic tablet, and a digital material that is like clay – it allows me to be intuitive and to create organic and fluid shapes,” she says. “The surface of the final pieces carry the movement of my hands.”

As you move around Large’s sculptures, you spot tiny details – most notably tiny words etched onto the surface, which feel as though you’re reading secret messages. This, paired with the fact that they look exist somewhere between the digital and physical, creates for a complex viewing experience, which feels at once poetic and human, while also being otherworldly and difficult to categorise.

To Large, that’s the entire driving force. “It’s important that the work is never graspable at once,” she says.

Maison&Objet took place in Paris from January 18-22.

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