When was the last time you experienced something undeniably authentic? It’s not something that most people think about on a daily basis. Then again, it shouldn’t be something people think about on a daily basis. It should be a given.
I’d apologize for my soapbox but have three points to make instead. Firstly, I’m not sorry. This is how I feel – and I’ll wager many of you do as well. Secondly, I’m optimistic that this is changing. There are so many talented and dedicated people out there working hard to infuse meaning back into what they do. Thirdly, I could think of no other word than authenticity to introduce the work of Juniper Ridge – a tiny conglomerate of nature enthusiasts who make up the world’s only wild fragrance company.
When I first learned about Juniper Ridge and what they do, I was honestly surprised. It had never occurred to me that perfume and fragrance companies wouldn’t handle the entire process from collecting materials to distilling to bottling. How else would it work? It seems that the only way to produce the best product possible is to have a hand in all of it.
In a nutshell, this is their platform. It all starts with harvesting wild plants, bark, moss, mushrooms, and other organic materials in their natural environment. The fifteen employee/members of Juniper Ridge travel throughout the West Coast, spanning different ecological areas from piney forests to the Mojave Desert.
Not too long ago, husband and wife team Adam and Danise Nance decided to launch Busk & Bask – a small design studio in the Mojave Desert of southern Nevada. And while it’s not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of modern architecture, geometric forms, and handcrafted leather goods, it happens that these three tenets form the basis of a promising young accessories label.
To clarify, Busk & Bask is interested in functionality. Their collection of carry goods features an interesting array of pieces from all-leather briefcases to key fobs, but is devoid of frivolous components, nuances, and embellishments. In this sense, their work poses an interesting paradox. In other words, it is progressively reductive.
“It’s called nesting.”
Admittedly, I didn’t know what to do with that at first. I quickly learned that this word… this ‘nesting’… is a clever moniker for the likes of decorative pillows and maybe-not-so-functional throw blankets. But to be fair, it also encompasses other, more permanent interior installations that I personally find much more exciting.
It was only a couple years ago that I realized my affinity for handmade furnishings. Since then, I’ve passed many an afternoon researching different designers and makers for the day when we actually have the money to procure more permanent pieces.
And so, I have set my sights on independent lighting design studio Allied Maker. Having evolved from the artful woodworking studio of Ryden Rizzo, Allied Maker now utilizes a variety of materials and crafting techniques to craft their stunning range of handmade lighting fixtures.
Since discovering Artifact Bag Co. late last year, I have quietly championed their work to friends and family in need of beautiful, yet solid carry goods. The label has a diverse collection from vibrantly colored personal effects bags to full on briefcases and totes – all hand crafted from high quality, domestically produced canvas and bridle leathers.
Perhaps it appeals to the sensibilities and circumstance of a fellow maker such as myself, but I am particularly inspired by the story behind the label. Several years ago, Artifact Bag Co. founder Chris Hughes lost his job to the recession, landing in a cubicle working a menial position for little pay. Yet in early 2010, he found a vintage commercial sewing machine on Craig’s List and began making bags, aprons, etc. Initially working in his basement, he left his job before the year was out to run Artifact Bag Co. full time.
As we’re nearing the final opportunities to grab gifts for you and yours before Christmas, I wanted to put together a last-minute gift guide. To be honest, I’ve been grappling with this for some time now and should have had something out at least a week ago. What it boils down to was my dissatisfaction with the standard gift-guide archetype, which is to say a single image with nicely arranged products and matching descriptions. The problem with this is that there are so many wonderful things out there that aren’t photographed well or that aren’t conducive to that format. So in light of aesthetics and in want of something different, we’re switching things up a bit.
It’s not necessarily anything new, but I decided to debut the Procured Design last-minute holiday gift guide via Twitter. Starting now, we will put out a new product every hour for a full day using #PDgiftguide. Just a heads up, the guide is good for him, her, the kids, the in-laws, or anybody really. There is also a wide range of price points, covering everything from stocking stuffers to serious indulgences.
Be sure to follow Procured Design on Twitter so you can pay special attention to our 24 hour gift guide!
Kiriko is a small unisex accessories label based in Portland, Oregon that uses traditional and vintage Japanese textiles to craft their continually changing collection of unique scarves, ties, pocket squares, and other miscellany. As such, much of their work is devoted to and inspired by time-honored production methods of traditional Japanese textile weaving, whether it’s kasuri, boro, sashiko, or any other number of conventional styles.
Products aside, what’s beautiful about the label is that it propagates a broad aesthetic, conceptual, and consumer interest in these heritage fabrics – even despite their commercial decline over the last half century. Although the traditional production methods behind these heritage fabrics may no longer be profitable for textile manufacturers, the pieces themselves are in no way outmoded. In fact, if Kiriko’s growth as a brand is any indication, vintage Japanese fabrics are regaining relevance amongst contemporary consumers connoisseurs.
Wanting to know more about the label, I was lucky enough to catch Dawn Yanagihara (Kiriko’s co-founder and creative director) amidst the holiday rush to discuss the label and why creativity is a constant pursuit:
Chicago-based eyewear label Drift began by making handmade wooden frames from laminated cross sections of retired skateboards. Of course you would never know it. There is an incredible elegance to their glasses: an almost vehement non-rustic appeal that embodies the best of what recovered hardwoods have to offer, without the shabby-chic quasi-lazy characteristic of other such ventures.
Taking this interest to the next level, Drift recently released Delta Blues – a small collection of glasses and shades handcrafted from an even more unlikely source: 100 year old pieces of Cypress lost at the bottom of the Mississippi River.
What began as a material investigation became something distinctly more intimate. After a series of hurdles, the team enlisted the help of a local named Byron, a construction worker turned swamp logger who they discovered on Craigslist (his motto: “why pay more when you can pay me?”). It turned out the investment was well worthwhile. He unearthed a beautiful piece of sunken Cypress that had marinated in the delta soil for around 100 years. Capitalizing on the rich striations of olive greens, deep purples, and honeycombs, this recovered grain is the focal point of the entire collection.
Nendo – “Quivering” Bowls
Japanese firm Nendo expresses a unique and subtle sensibility throughout their work – namely a minimal approach to conceptual and product design, with just a hint of surprise mixed in for good measure. What I particularly admire aside from their pared down aesthetic is that their projects always have something around the corner.
Nendo’s “Quivering” Bowl
Nendo’s portfolio is as varied as it is extensive, working between graphics to full blown interiors. My most recent obsession however is a small line of bowls designed for the “Kama: Sex & Design” exhibit at last year’s Triennale Design Museum in Milan. As you may intuit, the show investigates the relationship between sexuality and design – ultimately asking people to reexamine the common taboo associated with such a union. Suffice it to say, Nendo’s contribution deals directly with the issue of sensuality and seduction, yet all in their own understated style.
Nendo “quivering” bowl – time lapse photo
The designers submitted a series of extremely thin vessels that upon first glance seem like fine handmade ceramics. Of course the bowl itself is an inherently feminine object with close associations to the womb, to sustenance, and even birth. Yet there is more at play here. These bowls are actually made from silicon – an incredibly malleable material that is incredibly tactful and unexpectedly seductive. Borrowing from Nendo’s official site, they explain, “[w]e wanted to express eros through a design that evokes desire – a design that viewers simply can’t bear not to touch.”
Many of you may remember a post I published many months ago cataloguing the process behind building my first ever homemade skateboard. Since then, I have been working on a very special side project along the same vein. Truth be told, I’ve grappled with whether it would be appropriate to discuss my own creative endeavors on Procured Design. It seems like a conflict of interest. But at the end of the day, I decided that it is more productive to share my work with you all rather than to omit what has turned out to be huge part of my life.
Side Project Skateboards – No. 1
With that in mind, I am very proud to introduce the aptly named Side Project Skateboards - a pop-up shop featuring a limited edition of eighteen handmade, vintage-inspired skateboards. Each board is designed and crafted by yours truly in an attempt to marry the DIY spirit of the nascent skate culture in the early 60’s with a refined, modern sensibility.
Side Project Skateboards | No. 2
Side Project Skateboards | No. 16 Detail
Every skateboard is entirely handmade from start to finish. It is one thing to build a series of boards from handpicked lumber, but my interest in raw materials added another dimension to my work. As such, Side Project Skateboards are comprised predominantly of found and recovered hardwoods. Of course every piece – whether recovered or picked from the yard – was curated based on structural integrity and striking visual appeal. I hope it goes without saying that each deck is one of a kind.
Kiriko – accessories handcrafted from vintage Japanese textiles
I couldn’t be happier with my weekend spent at the Northern Grade pop-up market for American-made goods in Chicago. Situated in the heart of Millennium Park, the event showcased a well-curated collection of men’s clothing and accessories labels from around the states. Suffice it to say that I am very grateful to the event coordinators at Pierrepont Hicks for bringing together so many talented and like-minded individuals who share a passion for producing quality made goods here in the US.
Makr cases at Haberdash
Spotted: Scout Seattle
It was a pleasure to see some familiar faces, and was equally as exciting to meet the talent behind new and upcoming labels – many of whom will be featured here in the coming months! In the meantime however, here are some notable highlights from this year’s Northern Grade Chicago:
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of visiting Nashville for the first time. I was only there for a day, but was immediately impressed by the obvious pride of place that emanated from everyone I met. To be fair, I interacted almost exclusively with local makers and entrepreneurs (Otis James, Emil Erwin, and the folks behind Peter Nappi to name a few), but the city itself emanated an undeniable energy that you couldn’t help but soak up. It was that of empowerment – of having a vision and pursuing it in spite of the odds.
Handcrafted garments for men & women by Imogene + Willie
In many senses, Nashville is at the heart of a maker’s revival that has spread throughout the states in recent years. Though this legacy is something that belongs to every creative mind in the city, there is perhaps no better poster child than that of heritage clothing label Imogene + Willie.
Imogene + Willie storefront & studio
Though I wasn’t able to coordinate a studio visit, I carved an hour out of my schedule to drop into their store – a winsomely converted gas station on 12th Ave.
The first collections of cufflinks released by Alice Made This are veritable studies in the marriage between material beauty and minimalism. Capitalizing on the natural properties of solid silver, brass, and copper, these initial pieces appeal to a quietly elegant aesthetic that one often associates with British luxury. Yet in recent collections, designer Alice Walsh has branched out to experiment with other, less traditional contours and media.
“William” Rope Cufflink in Taupe
“William” Rope Cufflink in Black (left) & Blue (right)
Continuing this momentum, Alice Made This recently launched its newest collection, which consists of twelve unique knotted chord cufflinks. A refreshing update on the traditional silk knotted cufflinks (which have been in production since 1904), these nautical-inspired pieces reference the decorative stopper knots developed and used by British sailors during the 19th Century. At that time, sea-going vessels were subject to inspection before entering a given port. So as an extra measure to tidy up the ship, the crews created elaborate, functional knots to symbolize their pride and competence as sailors.
Voyageuse bag in black
Writers are often told to write what they know. The same I’m sure, goes for designers. For French creative Valéry Damnon, artistry comes from a deeply personal place. As the founder and designer of his own women’s luxury leather goods label, Damnon combines his most vivid childhood memories with professional insights into the world of haute couture. The result is a collection of accessories that is both captivating and sentimental.
Valéry Damnon at the design table
As a child, Damnon was innately interested in raw materials – specifically the leathers produced by the many tanneries in the surrounding Midi-Pyrénées region of southern France. Picking up on this enthusiasm, his grandmother taught him about an array of different fabrics as well as the art of sewing.
One of the defining aspects of his work is the uncompromising emphasis placed on sourcing the best materials and expertise throughout Europe. As such, each Valéry Damnon piece is designed in Paris with a former prototypist of respected French ateliers. This complete control over the creative process encourages the label to meld innovative new styles with functional components – a favorite of which being the integrated mirror in their Mutine clutch (pictured below).
Mutine clutch with integrated mirror
Damnon’s interest in process also extends to working with other makers to develop new materials unique to his label. For instance, all of his leathers are custom dyed by select tanneries throughout France and Italy, while the colors themselves are inspired by Damnon’s favorite paintings. Their black colorway is especially exciting. It references the work of Pierre Soulage, who demonstrates that black is not just a singular hue, but an amalgam of different tones. As such, the black lamb leather developed for Damnon’s bags carries subtle undertones of grey, brown, and green. His current collection also references the works by Nicolas de Stael, Mark Rothko, and Yves Klein (below).
Delicieuse bag in “Yves Klein” blue
As for the bags themselves, they are individually handcrafted in Portugal by a small family-run studio of leatherworkers who extend back many generations.
The “Roxy” Walnut Rocker
In a cultural climate that is so keen on delegation and outsourcing, it means that much more to discover a true maker within the creative community. What’s amazing about our current place in time is that most everyone has the ability to pursue a given skill regardless of their background.
All brass wall sconce
Wall Storage Cabinet in Walnut (left) & Cherry (right)
For Logan & Roxy Hendrickson, everything started at home. Having just moved into a new house, the couple began to design and handcraft their own furniture and lighting fixtures. They launched a blog called onefortythree (the numerical address of their new home) to catalogue both their progress and ideas along the way. But it wasn’t long before they received requests from friends and family asking for their own custom pieces. At that, onefortythree quickly transformed into an online shop, featuring a vast array of unique, handmade wares for the home, office, and studio.
The “Otis” wall light
The family cat enjoying a custom made perch
Because the Hendricksons design and craft each piece from the ground up, there is a constant flux of items in the works. They continually develop prototypes for new products as well as improvements for those that already exist. Wanting to give each piece the attention it deserves, everything in their line is made to order, one at a time in their studio in Henderson, Nevada.
It’s hard for me to say it without feeling like a kook, but woodworking really has taught me some invaluable life lessons. Of course many of them are vague and noncommittal; the sort that you can spew off about any profession (i.e. patience, perseverance, and the usual spiel). But I’m talking about legitimate, practical wisdom that I gained from the workbench.
Yours truly breaking in a Stronghold apron
Like any lesson, it sinks in best when you learn it the hard way. I walked into my first day as a carpenter wearing a denim apron I picked up in Japan for around 2500 yen (around $30 when I was there). As far as I was concerned, it was a steal. Unfortunately for my ego, it didn’t last a month. I found myself almost immediately back in the market for a durable work apron, only this time, I was going to get the best I could afford.
Stronghold fastens each copper rivet by hand – just like in olden days
My research brought me to Stronghold – a specialized denim label out of Los Angeles, CA that draws on a rich heritage of high quality craftsmanship and genuine materials.
If I were a better student, I could quote the now nameless philosopher and anthropologist who argued that creativity is inseparably bound to cultural context. In other words, a revolutionary – say van Gogh – could never create in a vacuum. Artwork, ideas, music, &c. all stem from, and are framed by, the society in which they are created.
Vincent van Gogh - ”The Siesta (after Millet)” 1890, Oil on canvas
One thing I’ve noticed about the patrons of the creative world – of collectors, sponsors, and the like – is that they often misunderstand this concept. For many of them, the only work worth appreciating is that which undermines tradition: the avant-garde and the inexplicable. There is a time and place for everything (especially innovation), but it’s important to not get caught up in what makes something different as opposed to what makes something wonderful.
Designer Ann-Sofi and intern at work
If I’m guilty of anything as a budding aesthete, it’s my preference towards the natural progression of things. I enjoy looking at the work of creative people and seeing the traditions that fueled them, both in design and process. This is partly why I so much admire the work by Väska – a small leather goods label that marries the best of Nordic minimalism with traditional craftsmanship.
I am part of a transient generation. Thanks to international flights and data plans, we are all over the place. I’d even go so far as to say that if I could sum up the lives and careers of the twenty-somethings I know in a single word, it would have to be impermanence.
Real Good reading room (via bloodandchampagne.com)
As I’ve learned over the last several weeks, it can be daunting to chase graduate degrees and professional opportunities across the country. Yet aside from the financial and psychological vulnerability of our new-age nomadic lifestyle, what got to me during our recent move was the threat of having to leave behind what felt like home: our furniture, artwork, petite library, and so on.
Real Good Chair by Blu Dot (in copper)
Obviously for life on the run, you have to be practical and efficient in terms of what you carry with you. Of course some people can live out of a suitcase, but apparently I’m much more of a home body. Not only do I need my space, but I need it to look nice as well. So with the intent of better furnishing our life as a ping-pong ball, I stumbled on the “Real Good Chair” by the Minneapolis design studio Blu Dot.
Earlier this year, I was very excited to discover the alluring handcrafted bracelets by 877. Now, I’m thrilled to announce that we are partnering up to hold our very first giveaway to win your choice of their recently released Nato bracelets!
It’s simple. All you have to do is like both Procured Design and 877 on Facebook. Then share the contest on at least one of your favorite social media feeds with the hashtag #877giveaway. Of course you’re always welcome to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, & Pinterest too, but that’s not required to win!
The contest will end at midnight (CST) on August 16th. It’s also worth pointing out that the giveaway is open to everybody. We’ll even ship internationally so there’s no reason to miss out! The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Procured Design’s Facebook page on the 19th. Best of luck!
How many ways are there to make a leather bag? About 3.5 million, give or take a few. There is such an incredible variety of shapes, aesthetics, materials, qualities, and price points that it can make you dizzy if you focus too hard on finding the right one. Yet for all these considerations, I very much admire the work by Amee Hinkley of Ash & Ore – a small leather goods label out of Boulder, CO.
Rosie Bucket Tote (in Cobalt)
Space Tote – Detailing
What was immediately apparent to me when I first saw her collection of handmade bags and wallets is that they all felt rather personal. Surely every artisan has a special relationship with his or her products, but the sensibilities of those by Ash & Ore felt rooted in something deeper.
One of the best things any creative can do is surround themselves with constant inspiration. For Niki Livingston, this meant opening her studio in Los Angeles as a hub for collaboration, a sounding board for brand direction and development, and a workshop for producing hand crafted goods. Known simply as Lookout & Wonderland, the studio came to life in 2005 and has since become well known for their stunning array of hand dyed goods.
Deconstructed Shibori Techniques
Though the Lookout & Wonderland studio crafts a limited line of ceramics and other wares, they place a large emphasis on their textile work – specifically that of indigo dyeing. Taking cues from Nordic interiors and Japanese shibori, their pieces add a bold, yet rustic touch to a given space – whether as a unique table runner or a decorative pillowcase.