Under Pressure With Set Designer Jason Singleton

New York Fashion Week can be an insane eight ball of round-the-clock hours and back-breaking work, with little rest for the weary or wicked. It is exactly that kind of intensity that inspires sculptor and set designer Jason Singleton to come up with the goods. The soft-spoken and handsome Texas native faces the gauntlet of tight budgets and insane deadlines with all the serenity and finesse of a yoga instructor.

Clearly, Singleton is always up for a challenge. He’s fabricated everything from a giant walk-in kaleidoscope tunnel for Yoko Ono’s birthday party to elegant runways for Raleigh Denim and CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award winners Public School. F/W 2014 most definitely has him burning the midnight oil, as he’s creating THREE different environments for shows in just a matter of days. Singleton was still an oasis of calm when Milk Made visited his prop-filled Bushwick, Brooklyn studio for a pow-wow.

Milk Made: You are working with Highland menswear on their upcoming show at MADE fashion week. How’s that going?

JS: Great; I’ve wanted to collaborate with them for a while.
We looked at the collection and came up with the feeling of an Antarctic explorer and translated it into a set in a very minimal way.

MM: The pressure is on. Lots of deadlines looming.

JS: I thrive on that. It lends itself to physical problem solving. I love teamwork and getting it all done, building things and spaces and having a model interact with it in some way.

MM: What other fashion brands do you like?

JS: I tend to like simple athletic wear. I like Acne a lot.

MM: I do too, but I’m not keen on the name. I don’t want the name of a teenage skin disease on my ass.

JS: Maybe it’s pronounced Ahk-nay? (laughs)
Being a tall guy, I like a lot of Scandinavian brands—how they take a rugged Americana look but give it a European fit.

MM: You’ve done quite a lot of TV production, including the bizarre Adult Swim melodrama “The Heart, She Holler” with my beloved Amy Sedaris. What’s the most outlandish set you’ve had to make?

JS: A preacher’s asshole. The inside of it.

MM: Holy shit—literally! Whatever happened to that set? I want it!

JS: Alas, it’s been disassembled.

MM: Shame. I too make sets, and it’s a shit ton of work for something that winds up in the trash. Is it all worth it?

JS: That’s the hard part, but with anything you have to move on when it’s done. I like to try and save materials whenever I can.

MM: What’s the worst part of this business?

JS: The hours, and having no life. You have months where you work all the time and then you have time where you don’t and you can go to the beach. It takes its toll. I try to drink a lot of juice.

MM: What is your dream vacation?

JS: Huge waves; tequila. I love Mexico. I love the people, language, the food, and the environment. Puerto Escondido, or Sayulita.

MM: Sounds like heaven. What else inspires you?

JS: Tumblr. I’m a big image whore—that’s where I get my inspiration. You name it, it’s on there.

MM: What has been a career highlight for you?

JS: Working with Yoko Ono on that kaleidoscope tunnel you can walk through and interact with. That was an amazing experience. I just want to make things beautiful. Even a preacher’s butthole.

Singleton designed the set for the Highland show, which will be on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. Check out more of his work here.

Photography by Andrea Tese. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Follow Greg Garry on Twitter; Instagram

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