Photos: 1 (Noah Taylor), 2 (Happy Returns), 3 (Robin Carlson)
Cody Norman (b. 1992) is a Chicago-based designer and educator. He currently serves as part-time faculty in the Sculpture and Designed Objects departments at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He graduated with a BFA from SAIC in 2016 and earned an MFA in 3D Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2020. Norman works with both digital and analog fabrication processes to transform recycled and bio plastics into functional art objects. Creating enigmatic forms that feel at once familiar and foreign, Norman’s process physically blurs the line between digital and hand craft.
Norman’s forms are inspired by biomimicry and sustainability. He designs, builds, and creatively misuses his own tools, such as the handheld plastic extrusion gun, which melts recycled plastic into improvisational organic forms. Norman uses a KUKA industrial robot, formerly a tool of mass production, to create one of a kind objects in unique ways. His objects resemble nature but have a chaotic and unpredictable materiality, as well as an element of function alluding to the “usefulness” of plastic objects.
In addition to his solo studio practice, Norman is co-director of the creative studio Happy Returns with his studiomate Tom Burtonwood. Happy Returns weaves together research interests in robotics, materials, and digital imaging to produce a range of outcomes for commercial clients and art projects alike.
Norman’s work is represented by Isabelle Weiss of I.M. Weiss Gallery. He has shown at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) - NYC, Interior Design Show (IDS) - Toronto, and Wasserman Projects - Detroit. His upcoming installation at Chicago Botanic Garden will be his largest work to date.