Sunday, June 25, 2017

Nasozi Kakembo

Photo Courtesy Of Nasozi Kakembo

WHERE DO YOU PRESENTLY LIVE AND WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS ABOUT YOUR CITY?
I live in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, and I have lived here since first moving to New York in 2005.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED?
I was born outside of Washington, D.C., and raised mostly there. I spent some time in Germany as a baby. My parents have lived there for over 20 years combined, and had some projects to complete after I was born in the USA.

WHAT WERE YOUR CHILDHOOD ASPIRATIONS?
I always wanted to be an architect, literally from the age of nine. I was always designing homes on computer programs and built 3-D models out of cardboard and other improvised supplies. I was also always decorating and painting my bedroom. I was heavily influences by my mother's work as well. She ran an African art gallery in the upscale Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. They would host premiere artists and designers from across the African continent, and have fabulous art parties. Art relevant to my culture was always glorified and revered around me, so this is why African remains at the center of my work today.

WHY FURNITURE AND INTERIOR DESIGNER?
This is a good question! Maybe because I am a true-blooded DIY chick. If I need something, I will make (or at least try) it myself. Furniture inclusive! I also figured out eventually that I'm much more at peace and productive when the spaces around me are in balance. I studied Feng Shui a bit on my own, and am a believer that spaces and energies are intertwined.

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND TRAINING?
My educational and professional backgrounds are somewhat incongruous. But it all seems to be converging now! I started out in architecture school, finished in art history and Spanish. I then worked in architecture for a year in NYC, and returned to graduate school for Urban Planning. After graduation, I worked in human rights and social justice for four years. Now I'm running my own creative social entrepreneurship company, which I like to think is a synthesis of all of the roads along my journey. I am also working with a partner to take over an art gallery and gift shop in Washington, D.C. (déjà vu!).

WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS AND WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I tend to stick to the classic elements of design for the foundation of any work I am creating. I studied architecture and urban planning, so I heavily inspired by those design theories. Modern design in particular has always resonated with me. But from there, I use more topical and contemporary elements to create something unique and relevant and reflects my own style and heritage.

WHAT ARE THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECTS OF BRINGING AN IDEA TO LIFE? Sometimes it's just the time. Or being able to produce it in manner that's affordable and scalable.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE YOUR MATERIALS?
I choose my materials based on quality and aesthetics. I inspect all of the textiles that I source from textile suppliers in NYC who import from West Africa. For my work in Uganda, I work with established vendors and artisans who I have developed relationships with over many years. I am already familiar with their quality of work, and they are familiar with the craftsmanship that I expect.

WHAT DOES A PERFECT LIVING SPACE LOOK LIKE?
My perfect living space is uncluttered and open. I'm a firm believer in "form follows function" and I espouse that in everything from what I eat to what I wear. I'm not in to excess. I like things in my home that are aesthetically pleasing, but they must first be practical. I might also be allergic to walls and doors. The less, the better! Partitions or curtains make more sense to me than a closet door, for example. And I prefer to define areas and their functions by using furniture and decorative elements (paint, shelving, area carpeting, etc). My perfect living space would be complete open concept and on land. I'm a city slicker out of necessity, but a naturalist at heart.

HOW DOES YOUR AESTHETIC TRANSLATE INTO OTHER AREAS OF YOUR LIFE?
My aesthetic is simple. I've worn the same earrings (diamond studs) for over a year now, I wear one ring, and it was one of my mother's from 50 years ago. I reuse or thrift what I can. I even still wear some clothes I had in high school and college. I don't buy or consume more than I need. Even my home which I share with my son is simple. The common room is the living room, dining room, playroom, art room, etc. We don't need a room for every solitary function, which is an unfortunate trend in consumer-based societies.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
I try to unplug. I do it in museums, at the beach (Beach106 at the Rockaways is my local favorite), or leave the country altogether. Most recently I was in Cartagena, Colombia.

Interior Space

Photo Couresy Of Nasozi Kakembo

Nasozi Kakembo's abode in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Yvonne Wandera


Photographed By Kiefer Dixon

WHERE ARE YOUR RIGHT NOW AND HAVE YOU ALWAYS LIVED THERE?
I am in London right now. I am bi-coastal between London and New York.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED?
I was born in Nairobi, Kenya and moved to London as a child. I feel like my cross cultural upbringing has given me a sense of adventure.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CITY OR HOMETOWN?
My hometown is London. It’s where I spent my formative years. London is truly magical and at the core of its beauty is the cross cultural elements and integration. You can get the best of the world, culturally and historically in London. We're also a nation that just "gets on with things" in these difficult times. I love my home town.

WHAT WERE YOUR INFANT ASPIRATIONS?
I never really held on to a single aspiration in terms of a profession. I wanted to be a teacher for a short period of time, then a doctor, even a nun. My drive was really to do well at school so I could become whatever I wanted to be.

WHY THESPIAN?
Oh, that’s an interesting question. When I was about 11, we moved house and I joined the school late. The school play was already cast but this was a particularly large celebratory show and the whole class was asked to participate. So I was cast as the snake dancer in Aladdin (totally made up character.) We were privileged enough to perform at the Theatre Royal Stratford, with full technical aspects. I was on stage for about 30 seconds and as the lights hit me, I was in absolute bliss. It was as though someone had sprinkled fairy dust in the air. I felt such a strong sense of belonging and all I could think about as I watched from the sides after my appearance, was how much I wanted to be back on stage. I suppose my changeable nature with regards to my profession as a child stems from my desire to be everything for a short while. Being a thespian perfectly fits the bill. Since then, it has somewhat expanded to all aspects of production namely writing, producing and performing.

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND TRAINING?
I went to drama school, The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Before that, I went to Guildhall school of Speech and Drama (youth class) for a couple of years and I also spent a term at Silvia Young Theatre School- Saturday class.

HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A ROLE?
The process is different with every role but one thing remains the same, it all stems from the text. It’s simply a case of picking up as many clues regarding character and using my imagination to play and manifest the character. Some roles are more demanding than others and I adjust my daily routine to enable that character to resonate.

WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED CINEMATIC GENRE?
Cinematic genres resonate in the same way as music genres to me. There's a genre for every mood and moment. It would be difficult to name my preferred, however, I would say the essence of a rounded story with great characters that illuminate an aspect of the human experience is key in any narrative.

WHAT OR WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?
Influence is akin to inspiration, I am grateful to have been moulded and shaped by many aspects and people in my life. Each project brings its own set of influences, from personal experience to an acute observation of our behavior as humans. I'm currently working on "Scoot", a feature film about an American guy who looses his fathers ashes and goes on a crazy taxi journey to find them. He shares the ride with an Arab lady who's carrying an unusual gift from her husband.

HOW DO YOU SPEND A DAY OFF, ANY HOBBIES?
Ha! I haven’t had a full day off in months! I’m due one now. If you want to know the truth, I would sleep in and wake up seriously late. Then leisurely mosy to my favourite vintage and flea markets. Sample delectable dishes and watch a dance show. After which I would go to a salsa bar and dance the night away. I love to dance, its so vital to me. I’ve been dancing since I was a child.

HOW DO YOU GET RED CARPET READY AND HOW DOES YOUR AESTHETIC TRANSLATE IN OTHER AREAS OF YOUR LIFE?
Fashion is a core part of my self expression. Texture, silhouettes and colour become a playground. The red carpet is the perfect place to curate a look that brings together this part of my expression. I am grateful to be working with Ruth Higginbotham my stylist, who is incredible. We communicate often and send ideas back and forth for various events and press appearances. As for my day to day style. I love to mix vintage and young designers. I love a good find, a one of a kind timeless piece that excites. I recently saw Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition at the White Cube in London and the structural elements in his sculptures have seeped into my day to day style.

WHAT BEAUTY ROUTINE DO YOU SWEAR BY?
As my days are varied, I can go from rehearsing in nothing but a moisturiser during the day and then hit a red carpet event in the evening. Exfoliating and drinking lots of water is vital to my daily care. I also recently discovered Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint and Cloud Paint. They really are the best things since sliced bread for a girl who loves her make up to look like second skin. I am also loving Mario Badescu Rosewater Facial spray, it hydrates and refreshes with or without makeup and I literally can’t live without. Caudale Overnight cream is really the secret serum that I use after a long day on set with heavy makeup. As for scent it has got to be 'Still Life' by Olfactive studio, it is simply heavenly.
 
HOW DO YOU STAY IN SHAPE?
I do everything. Run, circuits, dance. I prefer group sessions to solitary workouts.

 HOW DO YOU UNWIND? It's funny, I recently thought about this. I have to say I love to clean. It's crazy I know but it really helps me unwind and relax. It’s simplicity is almost meditative and refocusses my thoughts. It is the perfect antidote to my busy mind.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday




Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tyesha Chaunté


Photo Courtesy Of Tyesha Chaunté

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED?
Born in Chicago and raised in Fort Worth, TX.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR PRESENT CITY OR YOUR HOMETOWN?
Fort Worth has a lot of creatives coming out of it, whether you're looking at music, art or photography.

WHAT WERE YOUR INFANT ASPIRATIONS?
As a child I always dreamed of singing and one day selling out Madison Square Garden multiple nights in a row.

WHAT HAS BEEN A SEMINAL EXPERIENCE?
Recording and releasing my first body of music "Epsa."

WHY MUSIC?
Honestly, singing is all that I know and all that I want to spend time getting to know better.

HOW WOULD YOU CLASSIFY YOUR SOUND?
Pop music that holds the soul of worship music.

WHAT THEMES DO YOU PURSUE THROUGH YOUR LYRICS?
Pain, love and freedom.

IS THERE A SONG OR MUSICAL PASSAGE THAT NEVER FAILS TO MOVE YOU EMOTIONALLY?
"Love" by Musiq Soulchild.

WHAT OR WHO HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?
The life of Jesus Christ has the greatest influence on me. Music wise, it varies from artist and writers such as Chance the Rapper, Erykah Badu, Steffany Gretzinger and more.

WHAT’S YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
Varies, but usually just going through something deeply and then picking up the guitar and writing about it. For me, the lyrics and chords come at the same time and then later down the line I find a producer to help me develop the overall sound more.

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE VISUAL?
The visual is very important. I mean, everyone is going to make up different translations of what they think my songs mean to them. However, with a visual I am able to really explain my side of the story without any confusion.

HOW DOES YOUR AESTHETIC TRANSLATE IN OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE?
I keep things very natural with myself because I don't believe in being something. I'm not just for a stage setting. I wear little to no make up and I rarely go shopping. How chill I am is definitely reflected in the vibe of my music.

HOW DO YOU GET STAGE READY, ANY BEAUTY RITUALS YOU SWEAR BY?
I'm all about being in my natural state. So, usually I have little to no make up and I wear whatever I feel like wearing in the moment and whatever happens to be in my closet.

HOW DO YOU SPEND A DAY OFF?
I don't enjoy sitting around lol So I try not to have days off. But at the least I'll watch videos and listen to music and shed.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
The only way to really get me to unwind is for me to enter a state of prayer and to reflect on my dreams.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Virgil Abloh x IKEA

Photographed By Ellinor Forje 

"You're shy aren't you?", I said, pointing to a reluctance that could easily be misconstrued for arrogance. "You're questions are too abstract,"  replied Virgil Abloh, and proceeded to say that the best way to get to know him is through his work; upon which I was invited to a guided tour of his collection and installation, "Moving Still", showcased in Copenhagen circa three years ago.
  
That said, by the way of this preamble, I think Abloh and IKEA form a perfect marriage. If only with a bag.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mi Jong Lee


Photo Courtesy Of Mi Jong Lee

WHERE ARE YOU RIGHT NOW AND HAVE YOU ALWAYS LIVED THERE?
I live and work in NYC and I have been here from 1980.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED?
I was born in Korea but left there when I was seven years old. My father's diplomatic career led to many different countries where I was raised. Three years in Mexico, three years in Spain when Franco was alive, three years in Costa Rica before the eco-tourism came in. I am proud of my Korean heritage but sometimes I feel more Latina. Spanish was my second language before English. I came to U.S. when I was 17 to attend Cornell University where I received a cum laude in Sociology and minor in Art. Thereafter I went back to Korea but after six months, I moved permanently to NYC to attend Parson's school of design and pursue my passion.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CITY OR HOMETOWN?
The energy and cultural diversity. I can live and dance to my own rhythm. I love the many languages, cuisine and art that spire around us from block to block, day to day, mood to mood. Where in the world, a Korean woman who feels Latina married to a FDNY lieutenant sits down to eat a Jewish meal with her father in law? Here and Paris, we can walk to just about everywhere!

WHAT WERE YOUR ASPIRATIONS GROWING UP?
I thought I was going into Academia. I was and still am a bit of a nerd. After living away from Korea since seven years, I couldn't acclimate to the then 1980's Korean environment as an adult woman seeking an individual voice. The other passion that I had was art and fashion design. So I landed in NYC alone at 21, back to school for fashion design and have not looked back since.

WHY DESIGNER?
I love the symbiotic relationship of creativity with functional application that has to exist in fashion design. Fortunately, I enjoy the artistic aspect and the business aspect of fashion. Balancing this spectrum is facinating.

WHERE IN NEW YORK IS YOUR STUDIO LOCATED?
It is located at 265 west 37th street. We design and produce the entire MI JONG LEE collection in house. Each piece is cut individually and sewn by one sewer. No assembly work. Ownership of the garment starts from designer but flows right through to the presser that finishes each piece. Most member's of my team have been with me more than a decade and my head sewer over 22 years. It's quite unique and rare these days. I would love to invite you next time you are in NYC.

HOW INFLUENCED IS YOUR ART BY THE CITY?
It is where I live , work and breathe. Even when the inspiration comes from another culture or time, it get's filtered by this present moment in the city as it is also filtered by my Korean heritage. Thank you for your interets and questions,,, I hope they communicate well. I am available for any further inquiries. 

WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND TRAINING?
Socioloy, seems alien to fashion but it is so very relevant. Parson's gave me aesthetic dreams altough most of pattern making training is self taught through 35 years of experimenting and refining with my retail customer base. It's almost a blessing that I was not so cognizant of rules. To this day, I still have appointments for custom couture work at the Madison Avenue flagship store. I love it and it keeps me connected to the women I design for.

WHAT HAS BEEN A PIVOTAL MOMENT?
In 2010, I collaborated with a photographer to design six gowns that were inspired by her images. This was exhibited at the Museum of Photography in Paris, garment to image for four months. The freedom to design and create outside of the confines of business model inspired to me to develop a new designer brand that was more personal and art aesthetic focused. It was the moment that I decided to embrace a new challenge.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
I find inspiration everywhere, from an empowered woman, a place, a mood . Mostly I draw inspirations from artists and art work that moves me and energizes my own creativity. Last season, walking around the Japanese section at the Met, I came about a print from a caligraphy artist, Toko Shinoda. It inspired the mood, design and an original fabric print inspired from her work for Fall 2017. This Spring 2018, I am going back to my childhood in Mexico, drawing inspiration from Frida Kahlo, the woman.

WHAT MOMENT ARE YOU HAVING?
Clarity!A fter developing this new designer collection for two years, launching it last year, I'm  so clear on what and who I want to design for. It is clarity that brings freedom to explore.

HOW DOES YOUR AESTHETIC TRANSLATE IN OTHER AREAS OF YOUR LIFE?
I love to cook. I do it the same way I design. It is what the fabric that was chosen dictates what it wants to be. My husband tells our guest to enjoy the meal since most likely it cannot be replicated exactly.

WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO WHEN YOU'RE NOT CRAFTING?
Honestly, I am a voluntary workaholic. I love what I do and it is what I do most of the time.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
My husband and I escape to nature as much as we can. I run around with flowers in my hair and chill by the wild seasides of Maine.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Made In The Garment District

Photo Courtesy Of Mi Jong Lee

Mi Jong Lee, Fall 2017.