The Wash: Curvature and Chance with Moch Hahn of Cadis

The Wash: Curvature & Chance with Moch Hahn of Cadis

By Yves Golden

The Wash  is a bi-weekly Interview series where we converse with artists, visionaries, poets, plant lovers & friends. We share with you here the musings and excitements happening in our community.

This week Yves and Moch dive into the ethos behind his practice, collecting, chance and leaving meaningful little surprises in his work. Cadis and Calyx studios collaborated on a series of naturally dyed fabrics Moch transformed into light. If interested, please contact

"I’m dealing with “chance”. I don’t try to achieve it, but the unexpected outcomes are the ones that I'm most proud of."

YBG: As a “light designer”, what's your ideal temperature of light for feeling generative?

MH: Well, a lot of what I make comes off as warm. One of the first reasons that became present was through the natural colors that I've always worked with and the way that they emit light.I try to stay away from these now, but the first resins I was using were very cheap and they had a yellow hue to them. So, I think my fine art had leaned towards that hue of yellow, also. I've been trying to get them cold but I can't always control it. It always goes back to glowing warm. But my ideal temperature would be fall dusk, kind of wet.

YBG: Are you thinking of the woods? Upstate New York autumns?

MH: Maybe Japan? I love the spacing of the trees I saw there and the way that that opens up thelight, but there's still this darkness. It's still light and lush, though.

"When I was a kid, I would always climb under furniture to see the rawness of an unfinished piece. That was always very strange to me; I never understood why things weren’t finished off under there, so I finish the underneath and put a fun surprise for you if you were to climb under there."

Moch In a tree

YBG: Would you ever shoot your objects in such a location?

MH: I don’t want to say ‘no’, but I'd stray away from it. Sometimes the colors are a little too on the nose.

YBG: I get that. Can you tell me about your design practice and how it looks from project to project.

MH: I don't think I am talented enough to create a design and manipulate materials in certain ways, so I allow the materials to show me which direction to go. Most of the “uniqueness” in the pieces is based on my own errors; the mistakes become intentional, I suppose.

I try to respect materials and allow them to show me what to do. It's very mutational. I try to work with different mediums constantly and not having a routine of creating the same design over and over again lends itself to dissimilarity.

YBG: I enjoy the looseness, or what appears as fluidity, in your work. Your designs seem very mutable or unfixed.

MH: There is a loose aspect to it, but there's a lot of work that goes into keeping the work clean.There are a lot of tedious things I do to clean things up that I wouldn't do if it wasn't a “design product” versus fine art stuff.

YBG: Could you share with me the difference between fine art and design, as you see it?

MH: My mind actually switches a little bit between the two, but I don't find design to be fine art. It's principles like function and safety that distinguish it for me. I always think about how an animal or a small child would interact with something that is functional. It's very important for me that things are safe.

I enjoy hidden elements within the design that are fun for discovery when it comes to children. When I was a kid, I would always climb under furniture to see the rawness of an unfinished piece. That was always very strange to me; I never understood why things weren’t finished off under there, so I finish the underneath and put a fun surprise for you if you were to climb under there.

Two sconces Naturally dyed
Photo By Adam Friedlander 

YBG: What kind of surprise?

MH: Maybe a little carving or something random, but there's always some element that you can find underneath it.

YBG: Nice! I love that you can hold fine art and design separately but with the same respect or esteem. There’s a distinction, but it goes hand in hand.

MH: One’s kind of like farming and the other like cooking. I have some “primitive art” pieces that bring me back to this sense of creating out of need. If I don't have the tool but I have the wherewithal to be able to produce the tool that I need, that can be art. I think wanting fine art to be my focus, my need was to be able to create something that would keep me in the studio while affording me the time to be here. That's kind of how Cadis was born.

YBG: Where did your curiosity about fabric and dye start?

MH: I had worked with fabric through a painting pipeline, but I got into sculpture with fabric probably 10 years ago. I would treat fabrics using bleaches and dyes - liquids around my studio - to harden them. I’m currently trying to avoid so much resin although I still work with it. Using resin with fine fabrics can really open up the material and show the value of fibers. With the pieces I made recently in collaboration with Cara and Alexis Stitelder, there's a lot of grain and texture that shows up when they’re glowing. I picked up an alternative to fiberglass from a lot of eco friendly surfboard makers using hemp in place of what would traditionally be styrofoam and fiberglass. I sampled it and worked with it and did some hand dyeing to create different tones. But, obviously, Cara is superior at doing it and it's been really fun collaborating with her.

YBG: It’s incredible some of the things she can do with fabric or, really, any material. I feel likeI have a slip dress she dyed using rust and it's this beautiful gunmetal gray. She's sort of an alchemist. Is there an alchemical component to how you view your practice?

MH: Not really. I think I’m dealing with “chance”. I don’t try to achieve it, but the unexpected outcomes are the ones that I'm most proud of. I think by being so hands on while lacking control of outcome opens up that idea of alchemy where things can manifest in their own way in realtime without my full control. But through that they become more of an heirloom. I’m fascinatedby that longevity where there's some mystery or personal importance that is lost without its original context; why the object was made and who made it. That's part of why I used the moniker Cadis versus, for instance, my name for these pieces.

YBG: I enjoy the word heirloom in connection with your work. Did you grow up around heirlooms? Things that are still in the family home or archive? I know you moved around a lot though, right?

MH: I definitely was a little hoarder. Like, I loved collecting anything of popularity. Pokemon cards, yo-yos; I had to find the weirdest or most unique ones. Not really to play with though. I was just collecting.I was drawn to unique things based off of them being beautiful and strange and exciting as a child. But at some point, I got distracted by the value of things. Then I got caught up in keeping things because of its value, rather than because I love it. So, with moving and everything, it changed what I kept and what I let go of. Some people get rid of just really nice stuff in my studio. I don't even know where to start, but most of the things in here I probably found outside.

YBG: What kind of objects or shapes are you drawn to?

MH: It's all over the place, to be honest, but there's always some kind of element of curve. Round circles or curves in general are challenging for me. Some variations of the curve can seem bad to me, so I can get hung up on it. I think in a minimalist sense, I’m drawn to the subtlety of a shift. For example, I think a cane has a beautiful shape. Plus, it’s something that you can over look in terms of how its functionality depends on its shape.

YBG: That’s a really strong through line in your work; the curve.

MH: Yeah, but the ideal curve is difficult for me.

YBG: This is a weird question, but do you like rollercoasters?

MH: I always hate the colors, but I do like rollercoasters. Growing up, I used to go to a theme park in Wisconsin that had one of everything, but I enjoyed the rollercoasters towards the back that were bigger and made of wood. You’d walk towards the outside of the park, towards the woods, and under these huge wooden structures. I remember the sounds of the rollercoasters passing trees and how the beams would shake. The wood wasn’t bent, but the metal tracks underneath were so it really shook.

This hasn’t come up in context with my work before, but it could have played a minor role. I used to go there all the time. They even had artists selling stuff that was definitely “outsider” or made by self-taught artists. But, I sort of don't like those words for describing the objects.

YBG: Do you want to talk about what you would replace the idea of folk with?

MH: Folk, primitive, outsider – they're all really garbage terms for art made by self taught makers. Maybe “self taught artistry”? That gets into something that would be deemed as, “folk”or “outsider”. It’s hard to term when an individual makes without a reference. The Italian art movement “Art Povera” sounds beautiful and translates to “poor art”. It was named this because artists were grabbing stuff off the ground and began building with it.

YBG: I never knew about “Art Povera'', but the ethos resonates with me. That’s a really cool connection, thank you! Do you design with intimacy in mind?

MH: I wouldn't say that I design with it in mind. I think that the elements themselves are intimate and a lot of the ways that I capture them become intimate as well. It's kind of understated, but it’s the aesthetic that I feel most comfortable with. I think there is a sense of how dimmer light makes you feel more confident. It’s never super intentional, but I want there to be a sense of comfort and confidence around the pieces.

Photo by Adam Friedlander

YBG: Where have you traveled recently and what did you find there?

MH: I just got film back from two summers ago and it reminds me how much I need to be outside, to be exploring and to keep moving.

I was out in the desert in Arizona and after some crazy rainfall that happened recently, this waterfall emerged near James Turrell’s crater. It's never happened during that time of year, and we happened to just stumble upon it because we took a wrong turn. Everything was caked in mud from it, including me, my girlfriend and camera, but I had to get close to it. It’s called the Grand Falls of Little Colorado.

We were camping in my favorite place in the world called “shit pot”. There’s this volcanic rock crater out there and it’s such a profound, beautiful place. We were surrounded by coyotes making different sounds all night, but I felt really protected. It can be intimidating and vulnerable in that sort of environment, but it’s where I experience presentness.