Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an industrial designer by trade, currently residing in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I’m filling every corner with a bit of greenery. As I was quickly losing valuable work surface to my ever growing plant collection, I started creating hanging planters. My expression lies in form and material. I focus on using natural materials and the designs reflect an exacting attention to detail coupled with a kind of a quiet minimalism.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Aside from working on my own line, there are endless other design projects. I’m currently geeking out with my partner Bryce Wymer on an array of creative endeavors: from videos to interactive design to short format films. We’re working on his ceramics collection, Flat Earth Studio. It’s incredibly exciting and fun, but not much time is left for relaxing. I do escape to beautiful places and sometimes wonder why we’re all so cooped up in N.Y.C.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
Borrowing from the British: Keep Calm and Carry On. In the swirling intensity of my life, I remind myself to keep listening to the internal beat.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Nature. I’m in awe of the ingenuity and evolution that occurs to create the most efficient forms for a delegated task. From the cracks and folds of a leaf to a budding seedling, to the strange phenomenon of a strangler fig, I always stop in admiration and curiosity.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade today goes beyond the process. It’s an exchange between maker and user. Having designed in mass production, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit factories around the world and work with everyone from production to buyers. As exciting as it was, I sometimes heard a little voice in my head say “wait, why am I making this?” It took me years to get to the point where I could answer it. Handmade has the opportunity to educate and bring us back to the roots where we as consumers understand the resources involved in the creation (and destruction) of products.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My grandmother is my true inspiration. She is the most amazing, delightful human being I have ever met. She is creative and resourceful — I get my craftiness from her. I’ve seen her deconstruct an XL pair of pants from the sales rack of Filene’s into a cute 2-piece suit to fit her little frame. In one of the miniature houses she created, she knitted a three needle scarf on tiny toothpicks and staged a cat toying with it. Her articulate attention to detail may have stemmed from her career as a dentist in China.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I was that kid who couldn’t get onto the school bus because the paper diorama I had built wouldn’t fit through the door. As other kids read or napped during free time, I was always in the craft corner building away. I knew there was no turning back when I made the unconventional choice of attending art school. Initially, I had chosen to study cognitive science; it certainly was the more obvious choice. However, the moment I signed the acceptance letter, my heart flew out of my chest. I quickly ripped it up, signed the acceptance letter to RISD’s Industrial Design Program and immediately ran the sealed letter to the mailbox before I could change my mind again. And that was it — a lifetime in the arts.
How would you describe your creative process?
So often my process begins on paper, but drawing feels more like note taking; the design doesn’t truly come to life until it’s in physical form.The material drives and informs me. Every medium has its structural limitations and I love the push and pull dialogue you have with it — it’s magic that only happens physically and not on paper.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Hussein Chalayan. His use of fashion as a vehicle for expression and the conceptual nature of his work blew me away. I would have loved to have a peek at the A/W 2000 collection when he dealt with the topic of human displacement in a time when the definition of home and settlement was challenged by war and politics. Furniture in a room transformed into clothing: walnut tabletops telescoped into a skirt, chair slipcovers were worn as dresses and chair structures collapsed into a suitcases. It was stunning and illustrated to me that design can be meaningful and expressive.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Forged silver flatware I created at Haystack during a workshop taught by John Cogswell. With nothing but a hammer and an anvil, I learned how to transform a lump of metal into a gracious form. The perfect synergy of will, focus and force was never so clear to me as when I was moving metal with a hammer. I found peace in the process. The objects remain a constant reminder that will, focus, and perseverance can bring forth beauty in anything.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
I get my hands dirty; start making something, anything, but without criticism.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I love Brooklyn, but in 10 years I’d like to be doing what I’m doing now on the coast of Northern California. I’d love to have a big white studio with tons of light overlooking the ocean with every medium at hand, creating endlessly with my partner.