We couldn’t be more excited about our inaugural interview. We were lucky to meet up with with Brooklyn based industrial designer Pat Kim at his studio in Redhook. Pat has been featured in The New York Times, Core 77, and countless design blogs. We are a huge fan of him and his amazing creations. We made some tea and talked a little about Pat’s recent work, his love for Brooklyn, and of course tea. Enjoy, and thanks for reading.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, I’m Pat, I was born and raised in Virginia, came to NY to study industrial design. I decided to stick around for a bit. A couple years ago I decided I wanted to work for myself, and got a shop.
Where do you work?
I work in Redhook, Brooklyn, NY USA. Going to work in Redhook is like going on retreat from the city. As inspirational as the city can be, I feel like I work/think better a quieter, slower place. It’s nice to be able to look out my window and see skyscrapers in the distance and sea birds up close.
What have you been working on lately?
I’ve had a bit more free time post holiday, so it’s been nice trying to come up with new ideas and products. I work a lot in wood, but lately I have been trying to branch out, using other materials. I’ve been doing experiments with big chunks of cork, metal bending, and oiled paper. Good things to come.
I’m currently working with my friend/fellow designer/shopmate Brian Persico, on some furniture pieces. We’ve worked together on big huge projects involving spaces, so it’s refreshing to work on something like a nightstand or stool. Collaborating with another designer really gets you out of your little designery bubble. You get exposed to new approaches to problem solving, aesthetics choices, detailing etc. and you get insight on your process. Good things happen.
Talk a little about your working schedule and process.
I like to ease into my work day. I eat a solid breakfast, get any computer related work out of the way, and walk to my studio. When I get there, I like to “warm up”. I try each and every day to make something, anything in an hour or less. I use whatever scrap material, of which I hoard plenty, I have laying around and just mess around. I’ve made chalkboard erasers, little maracas, jigs, jewelry. Some of things end up in my junk pile, some as gifts, and sometimes they end up as a finished product. These warmups get my mind and hands ready for the “real” work. I keep a couple side projects around in case I get frustrated or tired. They help keep me sane and energized. My current pet project is a primitive style flatbow (like a bow+arrow bow).
How do you usually conceive of a new project?
I’m constantly bombarded by new ideas that can be triggered by anything I see or hear or read. Most of them are whatever, but I write/sketch them all down anyway. I keep a little journal/sketchbook with me at all times. It’s a neat way to document your life. I try not to look through old ideabooks, it’s my way to filtering ideas. I think any really good idea i have will stick in my mind/subconscious.
You see any parallels to your work and tea?
Yes. To me, both are all about the process. Part of that is being conscious of the raw material you are working with, whether that be the species/grade of wood and how its sawn, or the grade of tea, when it’s picked, how old the tree is. Then it’s about preparation. How methodical you are, and whether you follow “the rules” to a T, or are more creative in your interpretation, affects the end product. One of the things I really like about tea/tea culture are the tools (the whisks, kettles, bowls, etc.) and how they are tailored to different types of tea and situations. It’s like how you use a different blade depending on the direction you are cutting wood. I like to think my work, like tea, gives warmth and energy.
Plans for 2012?
See more, do more.
Check out the February Edition of Monocle to see Pat’s amazing rockets.
Pat’s work can be found at www.patkimdesign.com and the retailers Goose Barnacle, Michelle Varian, and Paul Smith.