In the last year and a half of traveling for i+s, I have gotten into the habit of picking up a piece of art or jewelry unique to the environment it came from. Similarly to how my great grandparents—fervent explorers embracing the newly opened world of travel via high-speed ocean liners and airplanes—had brought back goods from around the world which I would explore as a child, the thought was that I was bringing back artifacts. I’m not just experiencing life, but surrounding myself with physical reminders of my journey.
Something unexpected happened as I found myself keeping my eyes peeled for the unique bits and pieces of each place I visited: the “who” became more important than the “what.”
It started last October as I was visiting the California Bay Area. Being from Northern California originally, I didn’t think much about bringing home a piece of art from that trip, but as my mom and I looked through the Emeryville West Elm, we met Sarahjane Bernhisel, a graphic designer who sells her brightly colored and crisp printings on Etsy (her work can be found on page 40). West Elm acts as a pop-up shop to independent designers from time to time, and this was Sarahjane’s second or third event with the Emeryville store. Chatting with her about her work, I became excited by the prospect of getting to know more makers and craftspeople through my work with i+s.
For many reasons, including the recession and advancing technology, crafts are having a revival. Clients are looking to embrace their individuality through aesthetic means. That could be because we live in a world of bite-sized information where the image posted to Facebook or the look of a tiny square app button can make or break whether someone will continue to interact with your company, but regardless, we are seeing more and more that it’s not just that the client is looking at a chair to sit in: they’re looking for a chair that says something about them as individuals in just a glance.
That focus is particularly clear in our How I Sourced It feature looking at the use of color in tech start-up BlueCore’s LES location, designed by Justin Huxol of Huxol (page 64), and the original pieces by OldCoolNow (Breakdown, page 42.) The pieces chosen for the Shop Local Sources (page 38) mostly came from word of mouth by continually asking, “Whose work is catching your eye these days?” Like a chain letter, our connections grew as people suggested designers of their own.
Our intention with this Shop Local issue is to bring to light all of the amazing designers you won’t see in the trade show circuit or in advertisements. But it’s not that they’re hiding. Many craftspeople rely on social media—Instagram in particular—to get their products out there. I keep in touch with Sarahjane and others through likes and shares. It may be strange to think, but “What’s your @?” (or “handle”) is becoming just as important a question as, “Got a card?”
Kadie Yale | Editor in Chief