1. Tell us about your background, how you got to Commune and your role at the studio.
My first job was actually in fashion. I worked for a denim company in L.A. managing their cut and sew production. From textile development and pattern drafting down to the cutting, sewing, and finishing.
From there, I joined an industrial design studio producing lighting and furniture, again in L.A. I really got to cut my teeth with 3D modeling and engineering while working with the principal to bring ideas from concept to market. I was deep in the weeds there… I still have dreams about things being off by a thousandth of an inch.
I’ve been at Commune for just over 3 years now. I run product development for the studio and it might be the best job in the world. In any given week I could be working on a new rug collection on a Monday, a new lighting collection on a Wednesday, and running a photoshoot for our shop on a Friday. We have an incredible team and there’s a welcome amount of overlap in which I get to assist with interiors, collaborate with graphics, and provide support to the principals, Roman and Steven.
2. You'll do some incredible collaborations... how would you define a Commune collaboration and what is the guiding philosophy behind the collabs?
We’re very fortunate to be working with some of the best makers around. I think the guiding philosophy is really to design and develop products that we would use ourselves and that we can’t find in the marketplace. On top of that, it’s all about making it, whatever it may be, good. That means good materials, good processes, and good people involved.
3. How do you'll decide what products/categories to do? how are these ideas born? who initiates it etc.?
Our weekly product development meeting is kind of a sacred time for me. We talk about new artisans that have reached out or artisans that we should reach out to, potential new developments, refinements to existing developments, or a specific problem a project is presenting that we need to develop a solution for.
Almost everything we do, though, comes down to craft and some projects require a different scale of craft than any one of our artisans can handle on their own. For these, it has always made sense to find the right partner who has the infrastructure needed such as lighting with Remains, rugs with Christopher Farr, or woven textiles with Kufri.
4. Tell us about the Utopia textiles collection... what made you collaborate with KUFRI? How did that come about?
Well, it really started with an email from Kufri asking if we wanted to work together in some capacity. I’m not sure if either one of us knew we would be launching such an extensive collection of textiles not long after but I’m glad it worked out that way. One of the craziest footnotes to this collaboration is that it actually took place, basically from concept to release, over the course of this pandemic with much of it under lockdown.
5. What was that process like? How did your respective creative processes complement one another?
So much of what made this possible and so successful was the Kufri team and workshop in Dallas. Being able to freely ideate and have samples woven in real time was pretty mind blowing from our side of things. I think both Commune and Kufri have this underlying and possibly western sense of exploration and I think we really pushed one another to bring our best to the table. We would push on weave or yarn one week and Kufri would push us on color or scale the following. It was such a perfect give and take.
6. The Utopia collection has incredible colors and textures... how did you'll arrive at those?
I mean, color and texture… that’s everything. What’s fun about this is that I spent some pretty formative years in Texas, right outside of Houston. As we began to explore color and texture we immediately went to our natural environment here in California (The Channel Islands, coastal redwoods, Lake Tahoe) and it was easy for me to include those Texas touches (the giant blue skies, the roughness of the west Texas desert, those spontaneous thunderstorms). For us, it’s so important for these things to feel natural and authentic; we never look at, you know, the Pantone color of the year or anything like that.
7. Tell us a bit about the online Commune shop... are these a source of products in your own projects or are they meant to be a source for other designers, or retail public? Who is the audience?
All of the above, really. The shop provides the opportunity to both begin and continue dialogues with artisans we admire and it’s such a privilege to have this platform built into the studio. Everything is developed with our projects and clients in mind but we work with both the trade and the public which is just as important to us.
8. Do you have a favorite textile in the Utopia collection? And what's your favorite part in the process?
That’s such a tough question. I’m really drawn to the heavier textures like our Shiga Brick or Malmo Check. Talk about a tactile experience… Playing with different yarns to create those textures was also a favorite part of the process; being introduced to floats and the possibilities they presented was a real highlight for me. On the other hand, our Shaker Plaid is perfection.
9. What constitutes a successful collaboration in your eyes?
Timelessness. In some way we are always trying to transcend style and period. We are already using these textiles throughout many of our projects and have received a lot of great feedback so far. I think we just have to wait and see how they feel in a year, five years, ten years from now.
10. Any advice or tips for a designer or a manufacturer who has never done a collaboration before but is looking to do one...
I think for any collaboration it’s important for the work to achieve something that truly requires and benefits from all parties involved. But, just like the Kufri team did, reach out. Start a dialogue. Be communicative. Be curious. Be open. Be kind.
Love the collection? Grab your swatch kit here!