Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things
My friend Julka got a grant from Intel to study what we’re calling Making 2.0. She wants to study how crafters are using the Internet to design and market hand-made stuff. As her design buddy (and faculty sponsor), I went to LA with her on a tour of home-grown crafting establishments.
We started out at the ReForm School in Silverlake. The store sports a stylish retail space: think Scholastic Books meets Post-Industrial Loft. Their sparely curated collection of books and art comes together around a strong eco-element. My favorite find was this repurposed book by Tyler Bender:
After sublime hot beverages at Intelligentsia, we zipped over to The Little Knittery, a tiny store front lined with organic yarns on one wall, a sofa filled with knitters in the center, and a young man named Mark teaching stitches and discoursing to us on the virtues of recycling. I don’t have the patience for knitting myself, but I did pick up some slick ribbony yarn that I’ll use for a book making project, and I loved their business card (silk screen on cracker box):
We ended the day in Chinatown, where stores filled with shiny imports are interspersed with small galleries and art shops. Ooga Booga is a walk-up hole-in-the-wall above the main mall in Chinatown, legendary in LA for its truly indie selection of zines, music, and a few deliberately off-hand pieces of art (ceramic french fries; plastic bags sewed up with yarn). I picked up a zine by K8 Hardy, a NY-based artist who founded the queer feminist art collective LTTR. The paper feels like ECC (Early Color Copy), and the belligerent hand-writing, in several pen weights and colors, communicates the sloppy precision of revision.The in-your-face crudeness of K8’s little meditation on t-shirt fashion drew me right out of my beige-ois heteronormative masquerade for, like, at least ten minutes.
Downstairs, we stumbled into The Flock Shop, which felt like Urban Outfitter’s after Ooga Booga’s slackers-till-we-die non-self-presentation. Really, though, the Flock Shop is another Very Small Establishment, with t-shirts by small designers such as I hate fashion (I bought one) and Hakka Apparel. This Asian-owned business features work by Asian and Asian-American designers as well as your Euro-Etsy crowd. The Flock Shop keeps the “China” in Chinatown while supporting the growing arts scene in the hood. That and cheap parking was a great way to end the day.— Julia Lupton · 2009-01-23