Name, Location, Occupation
Just east of Austin, Texas
Furniture designer & builder, owner of KKDW
Please describe your workspace:
My workspace takes on a few forms, depending on what projects are going on at the time. Most days I work out of my home studio, a glorified portion of my living room outfitted with worktables and large windows that let in beautiful natural light. My boyfriend Travis and I share a home about 15 miles east of Austin, TX, on a perfect little three-acre lot atop a hill. Because of the way the house is set up, I’m able to take advantage of our space to hoard tools and have ample room for working on projects. Our front porch is a sight to behold because it includes two in-progress motorcycles, Travis’s welding table and his welding supplies, and my table saw and other tools too big for the house. If there’s an especially huge project that’s in progress, I move production into Austin at the workshop that I share with Travis. But when all is said and done, I prefer to work at my home studio because you just can’t beat the view.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished up a major goal of mine, a Spring/Summer collection of furniture and small designs called Throwing the Wild. Now that the heavy lifting, so to speak, of designing and executing the new collection is done, I’m following that through with order fulfillment and such. I’m also in the beginning stages of wrangling ideas for a Fall/Winter furniture and small designs collection.
What has been your most rewarding project to date?
The Throwing the Wild collection, with all its components from design and build of the pieces themselves to directing a look book for the collection, has left me feeling quite proud. It’s gratifying to be able to take a step back from months of work and see pieces that work together cooperatively. It’s rewarding on a basic level to cross a big bullet point off of my list, but even more so, the collection propelled me to think about my work in a new way, about the relationship my work has to other folks, and about intentionality in my designs.
Which designers and artists inspire you?
I’m surrounded by some mighty hardworking creative people here in Austin—folks who are positive, mutually encouraging of each other, and of whom I’m constantly proud. I also draw quite a bit of my drive and momentum from books and music. In particular is a small book my brother gave me for Christmas years and years ago: Desiderata, a timeless vestibule of philosophical truths to aspire to, such as, “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” The copy I have has especially precious line illustrations. It’s a five-minute read that I try to turn through regularly. And sometimes, watching Beyoncé Live at Roseland: Elements of 4 and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down a Dream is just the best thing to remind you what hard work means when you’re achieving your dreams.
Has there been a defining moment or turning point when you realized what you wanted to do for a living?
Growing up, my creative outlets were always music and writing, but even with those two ways to express myself, I constantly had designs floating around in my head—cold, hard designs not necessarily communicable through words or melody. But at the same time, I also grew up using my hands and being fascinated with the engineering and craftsmanship behind everything from tables to bridges. Once I learned how to use the tools in a woodshop, in my case a cabinet shop, those earlier creative outlets sort of melded and evolved into a means for me to turn the designs floating around in my head into physical, useful, purposeful objects. I always knew I couldn’t be doing anything unless there were creative elements involved, but as I got older, and especially right after college, I also knew that working for myself to create something meaningful had to be part of the plan, too.
What do you think is the most difficult aspect of working in design?
Having patience with and respecting my own creative process can be a struggle with myself at times. Being conscious of my own ideas, snippets of designs and thoughts, and when they ebb and flow is something I’m still figuring out. I’ve learned to just jot down all my ideas, no matter how partially formed, as they pop up. I have a huge book of large newsprint, and on that I’m able to map out ideas like a pirate’s treasure map, even if I don’t get to the “x” for days, weeks, or months.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m currently in the throes of Wild by Cheryl Strayed; laughing and/or crying every page of the way. I also keep a short list of magazines like Elle Décor (UK), Garden & Gun, and The New Yorker around.
What websites do you visit for inspiration?
The internet certainly doesn’t run the way it used to now that we’re out in the sticks, but a few sites that I can spend hours on (and not just because sometimes because that’s how long it takes for a page to load) are Miss Moss, Big Bang Studio, The Selvedge Yard, Smitten Kitchen, and http://www.bikeexif.com/.
What are your simplest daily pleasures?
Taking after my dad (one of the most productive and truly happy people I know), I’ve begun waking up before the sun. I tip-toe downstairs to brew up coffee with lots of milk, sit at my window, and make my list of goals for the day. Sometimes I’ll listen to music, other times I’ll just let the crazy cacophony of roosters, wild dogs, grackles, and sparrows outside filter in. It’s a new treasured time of the day when I’m able to wrap my head around the hours ahead of me. I also look forward to the point of the day when I can take a walk down our hill with Ellie, our dog, or go for a run with her along the Lower Colorado River near our house. It’s a time when I can step away from work and reevaluate any obstacles I’ve encountered that day, or just daydream about new designs and approaches. Plus, Ellie loves to chase the birds down at the river, which I get a kick out of.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Down the road, I’d like to own acreage somewhere—maybe near where we are currently, but I’m not ruling out other parts of the county/state/country/world. I want to build a house and a big workshop with lots of windows on the land, have a few cows and chickens, and plant thousands of wildflowers. I’d like to have a few more collections under my belt, a collaboration or two, and start teaching some classes out at my magic, window-filled, home workshop.