style, Richard Serra, inspiration

My Style: Richard Serra Is an Inspiration

When people ask me what my style is, I usually go to something like: “I don’t have a style. It’s all about functionality.” I’d rather talk about my inspiration. I identify with the process and work of Richard Serra. 

style, Richard Serra, inspirationRichard Serra. Band. 2006 Steel

I have the affinity for the twisting walls of steel that Richard Serra creates. They are simultaneously the enclosure and the boundary. I’m mesmerized by undulating lines of thick rusted metal that is manipulated into a sculpted space (or environment) in which “a viewer can experience universal qualities of weight, gravity, agility, and even a kind of meditative repose.”

Richard Serra — an inspiration

style, Richard Serra, inspiration

In 2011 I saw Richard Serra. Verb List. 1967–68 Graphite on paper, 2 sheets, each 10″ x 8″ at The Museum of Modern Art. It struck me. A simple list. It’s clear: the act of making implies multiple ways of interacting with material. Not only that I could relate to it, it reminded me of the collages I’ve been making.

to remove

to simplify

to open

to lift

to swirl

to collect

of nature

of layering

of grouping

to arrange

to pair

to discard

to complement

to enclose

to surround

to tie

to bond

to weave

to light

to modulate

of equilibrium

of symmetry

of friction

to systematize

to force

of context

of time

These verbs and conceivable contexts resonate with me. Richard Serra once said: “There’s a potential for other people to understand that a lot of things are possible with a sustained effort and that the broadening of experiences is possible and I think that’s all art can be.” Art, architecture, design, all of it is made through a series of deliberate actions.

style, Richard Serra, inspirationmy collages

I’d rather not put a label on my style — it’s personal

Even if there is a client involved, what I do is for myself. My style is a toned-down mix of modern, minimal (but warm), and rustic. It’s “streamlined with industrial leanings.” I have affinity for:

  • clean lines
  • natural materials
  • industrial or raw components/textures
  • repurposed elements
  • timelessness: mixture of old and new, vintage and contemporary
  • neutral, calming palette
  • simplicity
  • flexibility

My own work is not so much about style, but about the experience or engagement with space, the way it encloses, surrounds, encircles, and keeps its distance. Richard Serra is an inspiration.

style, Richard Serra, inspiration

my style


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  1. Bob says:

    I was wondering if you keep a copy of Richard Serra’s Verb List nearby and actually use it (or a similar list of your own) in your design process.

    1. Alla DIY Ally says:

      Hmmm… It’s an interesting question, Bob. I am fascinated by Serra’s very succinct approach. Very down-to-earth. To me, this list is about the effort. And how he breaks things down. In that sense, his list is very general; it can be applied to any project or anybody’s creative endeavors. In terms of my own process, there’s no one list to refer to. At least, it hasn’t been written down.

  2. Mia S Kazovsky says:

    Engagement with space… I love that notion! I also adore Richard Serra’s work for the same reason.

    1. Alla DIY Ally says:

      I love it that we’re on the same page, Mia!!!