Whereas the Memphis Group combined loud colors and unexpected shapes to playful effect, Kahn’s approach is similarly brash, but his aesthetic is more rough and tumble. His pieces reject slickness in favor of irregular textures and amorphic forms. Right angles are rare. On a Fulbright scholarship in Tel Aviv, he studied with a shoemaker, an experience that continues to influence his work. “A foot is a really weird shape. You have to figure out how to take a flat material and mold it around that. I think that was the stepping stone to be able to create patterns for the cast cement sculptures.” To Kahn, the boundaries between digital and material, traditional and avant garde, art and craft are fungible, un-fixed. In true millennial fashion, he’s comfortable slipping between cultures and categories.
Kahn’s pieces are certainly richly layered objects. His materials range from traditional to unorthodox, as do their combinations: vinyl meets cement, resin meets aluminum foil. He’s more interested in fantasy than function. This approach put him at odds with many of his classmates at RISD. “In school, there was a strong interest among my peers in functionality and democratic design. None of that ever appealed to me.”