Tell us about your business.I took a sabbatical from my work as an architect to live with my husband and children in Buenos Aires, Argentina. While there, I finally had time to explore other creative avenues and ideas that I had been thinking about for some time. Designing on a smaller scale, but with the same methods I employ as an architect, my goal is to create interesting and useful objects and accessories for the home. My products are composed of individual shapes cut out of plywood, that are then assembled to create a three-dimensional form. The individual components slot together without fasteners, and can be easily taken apart and stored flat in a drawer when not in use. Engaging the user to put together their bowl or wine rack like a three-dimensional puzzle is part of the fun and playfulness of my designs. Sustainability is a key issue today, so I strive to use eco-friendly materials and finishes. Bamboo plywood is a sustainable resource, strong yet lightweight, and also beautiful.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.My workspace and studio is in my home in Port Jefferson, on Long Island's North Shore. We live in an older cape cod style cottage that I renovated and added on to over the years to create a modern and light-filled interior. My home is filled with prototypes, work-in-progress, and finished products, so it's kind of a studio and test-lab all in one. I design my products using AutoCAD on my computer. I have a partnership with a cabinet-making shop in Michigan, and they cut out the pieces of my designs on their CNC machine (a computer-operated router) from my original CAD drawings. Then they send the pieces to me and the fun begins: I sand and finish them by hand. Most of the time I try to work outside - especially when sanding - so you could say that my shop space is my backyard. My daughters and husband help me with the finishing when I'm in a crunch, and my twin sister is always on board to come help sell my wares at shows and markets.
What inspires you?I am inspired by nature as well as the built environment, and like to emphasize the similarities between these two seemingly different worlds in my work. The organic forms of my pieces are inspired not only by plants, flowers and leaves, but also by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen, Frank Gehry and others.
What makes your business stand out?My mission, simply put, is to make products I would want to have in my own home. Why should the things we use every day be boring? Life is more interesting when we are inspired by the objects we see around us every day. I feel this philosophy is what makes my business and the products I create stand out.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?My advice is to do something that you love. If you are excited about what you are making, it will be easy to get other people excited about it too. Loving the creative part of your business makes all the rest of the work worth it.
What does American Made mean to you?I think we are entering a new era that is redefining what "American Made" can mean. There is exciting new technology available today to any designer that allows us to experiment and create on a small scale without the need for traditional manufacturing. In addition to the CNC machine found in many cabinet shops, there are laser cutters and three dimensional printers that work from computer generated drawings to produce finished pieces or parts. A designer can buy and use their own machine or use a local or on-line service to make prototypes and finished products right here. This new technology allows individuals and small businesses to make well-designed products in the U.S. in a cost effective way. I'm envisioning a future where there are thousands of small companies making a variety of different and unique American made products that can compete with the mass-produced, homogeneous (boring) products made overseas.
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