Kiel Mead, Product Designer, and Sarah Boatright, Artist


On a shelf in the home office designer Kiel Mead shares with his girlfriend, the performance artist Sarah Boatright, sits a set of drawers stuffed with backstock of his Forget Me Not rings, little string bows cast in precious metals. Mead’s breakout design when he was still studying furniture at Pratt, the rings were the genesis of the 27-year-old’s fascination with casting objects into wearable reminders — of childhood, of holidays, of lost loves, of an old car he once drove. Boatright, 24, also deals with the preservation of memories in her work, dressing up in goofy wigs to make reenactment videos of family Thanksgivings or furtively recorded interactions between strangers, which go on to enjoy eternal life on YouTube.

So if you’d expect the couple’s Brooklyn apartment to be decked out with the kind of overstyled chicness typical of two young creatives, one of whom practically runs the Williamsburg branch of The Future Perfect, you’d be mistaken: Like their creations, the possessions they keep on display are more about storytelling than status — from an old Coleman cooler that reminds Mead of his father to a motley crew of self-made, bartered, and castoff furnishings. “We have such a bizarro, schizophrenic design scheme when our ideas come together in the space,” says Boatright. But, explains Mead, “we want each object to have an adventure behind it. Surrounding yourself with the things that remind you of people, places, and events makes coming home a lot more gratifying.”

Lest their unbridled nostalgia turn the place into a rat trap, however, he and Boatright have a few ground rules: They discuss most acquisitions as a team, especially when out shopping together at flea markets, and try to only start collections that can hang rather than gather dust on a shelf, like the religious iconography wall they’re working on in the bedroom. “The house is our greatest collaboration, and it’s made it easier for us to compromise and work together,” says Mead, who moved in with Boatright a year ago after serving as her cross-country coach at Pratt in 2009. “Actually sometimes we collaborate too much on the apartment when we could probably be spending that time doing some really great creative projects together.”

That said, joint professional projects are definitely in the cards, a turn of affairs Mead actually does credit to cohabitation. So far, the couple’s worked together on a mobile they created for Sight Unseen’s New Useless Machines exhibition at last year’s Noho Design District, a confection for the recent Caked Up show Mead co-produced, and a video they made of exploding Jell-O for a local Jell-O molding competition. “We got so pissed at each other while we were making it,” says Mead. “But in the end it was so funny, we don’t know why it didn’t win.”