The fact that Los Angeles designer Kate Miss has, since we shot her Koreatown workspace last fall, chopped off her hair, adopted a dog, and moved studios not once but twice — the second time abandoning her freelance graphic design life altogether for a full-time position at Karen Kimmel — may tell you just how busy we’ve been around these parts. But it could just as easily be a reflection of how much Miss craves change. She’s the only person we’ve ever heard utter the words: “I love moving.” And yet that peculiarly peripatetic quality is what defines Miss — it’s what brought her from Seattle to New York and finally to LA, and why she’s equal parts known as a blogger, a photographer, a jewelry maker, and a graphic designer.
That Miss would follow a creative path was always something of a given; her father was an artist and owned an upholstery business while her mother and brother are both musicians. But the fact that’s she’s found her way to four different creative avenues has something to do with her desire for financial stability against a backdrop of constant change. “I do a lot of different things, which can be obnoxious to explain to some people,” Miss laughs. “But I’m mainly a graphic designer; that’s what I went to school for. As a teenager, I was very wild but I’ve always been practically minded. I was like how can I turn my creative energy into something that will actually be a job. I decided on graphic design because I wanted a job that was creative and fun, I needed something that seemed more stable for how I am.”
“I was always interested in photography but I didn’t think I was enough of a go-getter to make a career of it. And in New York, I had an office job that wasn’t creatively fulfilling, and my husband would get annoyed with how restless I was all the time. He was like, ‘you need to find a hobby.’ That’s where the jewelry making came in.”
It’s only since moving to Los Angeles, however, that her disparate interests seem to have coalesced into one. Miss makes her jewelry, photographs her own designs using her girl tribe of creative friends as models, and designs the lookbooks; she’s offered similar services for creatives like Jennifer Parry Dodge of Ermie. “LA has been amazing for both my husband and I, creatively and personally,” Miss says. “For my photography, it’s definitely influenced what I’m taking pictures of; pretty much every print I sell in my shop was taken in or around LA. And for my jewelry, there’s such an interesting vibe here. My husband calls it a ‘desert witch girl vibe,’ which is hilarious but I love it. Ever since we moved to the East Side, I’ve really fallen in love with LA, just all the plant life and the sunshine. I don’t even think I realized how much I needed that. The sunshine is just so amazing. It definitely has its downsides; the traffic is no joke. But for the most part, where I am right now is exactly where I need to be.”
Many artists claim to need restriction in order to thrive — Matthew Barney famously made a series around the subject — and find the idea of freedom paralyzing, like standing at the edge of a vast creative abyss. Vancouver native Monika Wyndham, on the other hand, seems to be energized by endless possibility. In February, she left a full-time position art-directing interiors for the Canadian clothing chain Aritzia to move to Brooklyn and freelance, and she's taken to the professional vacuum with a kind of giddy abandon, flitting among dozens of ideas she finally has time to follow through on — even if she's unsure as to what end. And then there's the high she gets from losing herself in one of her biggest sources of artistic fodder: Google Images. "It’s just baffling to me how much information exists on the internet, and the fact that you can enter funny combinations of words and yield the most insane multitude of search results," she muses.
You can learn a lot about Dutch designer Bernadette Deddens by just looking at her. First there are the shoes, which — depending on the day and the whims of London’s weather — she very well may have made herself. One pair of sandals constructed from $25 worth of pale leather and black cording could be mistaken for Margielas, yet are no less awe-inspiring for the fact that Deddens actually nicked the look from Tommy Hilfiger. After all, who makes their own shoes, anyway? Then there’s her jewelry, which is almost always her design, unless it’s a collaboration with her husband Tetsuo Mukai, with whom she formed Study O Portable two years ago. The jewelry is their way of giving people a form of creative expression that can be carried outside the house and into the wider world, as Deddens so poignantly demonstrates — hence their otherwise peculiar studio name.
A subway-less industrial bastion perched halfway down the western coast of Brooklyn, Red Hook is a pain in the ass to get to. But when the weather's nice, you never want to leave. Last week when we showed up, it was 70 degrees and blindingly sunny, and from all around the warehouse that some of New York's brightest up-and-coming designers share with Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pie, the East River sparkled at us suggestively, with the Statue of Liberty looming not too far in the distance. It was the kind of day that seemed made for boat-spotting, beers, and an impromptu Fairway picnic, and yet we were there for one reason and one reason only: To make a few long-overdue house calls. Armed with the new Pentax K-01 digital camera — designed by Marc Newson with a sleek, Braun-like aesthetic that's even more striking in person — we popped in on five different design studios in the neighborhood, taking sneak peeks at work destined both for this past weekend's Architectural Digest Home Design show and the upcoming New York Design Week. The result is a two-part Red Hook Studio Visit series — all shot with the Pentax K-01 — which kicks off today with Liberty Warehouse occupants Fort Standard, Piet Houtenbos, and recent Pratt grads Persico + Dublin. We aren't professional photographers, but we think the results turned out pretty swell.