Hi, my name is Ashira Israel and I’m the lead architectural designer and fabricator at IN.SEK Design. I live in Williamsburg, a wonderfully vibrant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.
IN.SEK began back in 2011 as a way to fill my inexplicable need to create things. I had just graduated from the architecture program at Pratt Institute, and after five years of mostly drawing, I was thrilled to start using my hands to take my designs off the page. After graduation, I apprenticed for a furniture maker during the day to improve my skills and got a tiny studio space to work on my own designs at night and on the weekends. It was thrilling to have a studio of my own to explore ideas, materials, and tools. After only a few short months, I landed my first big client. During this time I also designed my first product and opened my Etsy shop. The momentum grew with each project and sale. Within a year I had already outgrown my space, moved into a larger studio, and quit my day job to work for IN.SEK full time!
Eventually, the work became too much for just one person to handle; I’ve since hired two of my best friends, Preston Church and Kaitlin McGowan. They’ve introduced another beautiful layer to the tapestry of the company, and they continually help push new ideas forward. Our process is unique – while most designers are currently using computer software to design material-less forms, we work directly with our materials, and ask what forms they want to become. The way we work allows for play and experimentation, rather than imposing predefined boundaries.
Inspiration comes almost too easily for me. I find it everywhere: a construction site, the architecture of ancient civilizations, science, cosmology. I’m also inspired by this amazing city I live in, as well as by my travels around the world and all the terrific people in my life both past and present. It is the combination of so many of these factors that has shaped my life, and continues to help me evolve as an artist.
Etsy has really played a major part in our business from the beginning. It was my first outlet for getting my work to a larger audience, and it continually functions as a great testing ground for new product ideas. I also had the fortune of getting to build furniture for the reception area at Etsy HQ in Dumbo. That was huge for me, and it was a great project to be part of. I had a wonderful time working with the Etsy team, and I found it very honorable knowing that they support their sellers both online and offline.
We are currently getting set to move into a brand new LEED-certified building this May. This will help us continue to push our goals to practice sustainable methods of manufacturing with growing orders and larger-scale projects. Our new shop will be powered by solar panels, and we will continue our tradition of donating our sawdust to local farmers and trying to waste as little as possible. Sustainability means many things to different people. To us, it is all about creating beautiful and long-lasting pieces that can be passed down from one generation to another.
All photographs by IN.SEK Design.