Poketo Blog http://blog.poketo.com Art for Your Everyday Wed, 23 Apr 2014 00:43:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Designer Profile: Chen Chen & Kai Williamshttp://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/21/designer-profile-chen-chen-kai-williams/ http://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/21/designer-profile-chen-chen-kai-williams/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:00:17 +0000 http://blog.poketo.com/?p=10623 keep reading]]>

Designers Chen Chen and Kai Williams are undoubtedly pioneers of the Brooklyn design scene, both leaving full-time jobs to launch their own studio in 2011, and with their lighthearted and intuitive approach to object making they have managed to stay at the forefront of the movement. We spoke with Chen about the entrepreneurial spirit, escaping within New York City, and making the big bucks.

You met while both students at Pratt and after graduating worked independently of each other for five years. What ultimately caused you to join forces?

We had studios close to each other. Mine was rather small so I would often come over to Kai’s studio to work on larger projects. We started collaborating on projects together, and when the lease on my studio was ending it just made sense for me to move into Kai’s space.

You have a diverse and varied body of work, ranging from the playful and colorful Cold Cut Coasters to the profound Metamorphic Rock Bookends. Is there a singular piece that you feel most embodies the Chen Chen and Kai Williams aesthetic as a whole?

I think the product most associated with us is our Cold Cuts Coasters, which are made by combining various materials together into a loaf and then slicing it. A lot of what we are interested in is creating our own composite materials and showing everyday things in a way not normally seen. The coasters do both, as they combine a bevy of everyday materials, like wood and fabric, and then show them together in cross-section.

The Stone Fruit Planters are your first foray into a more accessible product line. Do you see yourselves expanding in this direction?

I think affordability is an important aspect of design. It allows you to reach a much wider audience. It is also a more difficult design problem to solve, especially since these planters are being produced in our studio in Brooklyn and not in a factory in China.

It’s no secret that Brooklyn has a thriving design scene—do you feel a part of this community, and do you find inspiration among your peers?

Absolutely. When we first started our design practice there was a smaller scene. I think most of our peers at the time were working at design firms doing more hardcore, nuts and bolts industrial design. It took us a few years to decide to start out on our own. I think there’s a very strong entrepreneurial spirit here. It really impresses me that a lot of companies now are being started by designers straight out of school. Especially impressing is that there is not much institutional or governmental support of young designers, like there is in Europe.

Where do you see the studio in five years?

Making the big bucks.

Favorite place to escape within the city?

Willets Point, aka The Iron Triangle, is currently in the process of shutting down. It will be torn down and replaced with a convention center. It was a third world country in the middle of Queens, a mess of auto body shops lining unpaved streets that weren’t connected to the sewer system. If it rained, there would be smelly ponds for days afterwards. We discovered it when our van was taken to a junkyard there. When people don’t have money to do things the right way, they find interesting ad-hoc solutions to their problems, and Willets Point was full of those things.

Chen Chen and Kai Williams Stone Fruit Planters are available at poketo.com and at the Poketo Flagship.

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Interview: Shea Parton of Apolishttp://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/18/interview-shea-parton-of-apolis/ http://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/18/interview-shea-parton-of-apolis/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:36:16 +0000 http://blog.poketo.com/?p=10619 keep reading]]>

In light of the launch of our Koreatown Market Bag, we spoke with neighbor and collaborator Shea Parton, co-founder of the inspiring and philanthropic Apolis. Apolis was founded in 2004 by brothers Raan and Shea with the simple idea that business can create social change. Some serious dedication and about ten years later, Apolis has impacted economies in countries as widespread as Uganda and Peru, while at the same time building on the community in their home base of Los Angeles. Shea conducted an interview with Poketo for Style.com, now we get the inside scoop on Apolis.

How did Apolis come to be?

My brother and I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA, and our parents knew we would never appreciate how amazing of a community Santa Barbara is, so from an early age we followed our parents’ heart for the non-profit world and traveled across the globe learning about on the ground non-profit work. Throughout our travels, we realized that despite cultural differences, whether language, currency, or even plug outlets, we were mostly blown away by all of the similarities—everyone has the same desire to laugh, learn, and provide for their family. Growing up our parents pounded into us the proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” We discovered that there are plenty of well-trained fisherman in developing economies, but they often don’t have proper bait or a big enough pond. We saw an opportunity to co-design products with communities and cooperatives and bring these products to a wider audience and a stronger market. From an early age, my brother and I knew that we wanted to have a business together. It could have been anything, but textile and manufacturing companies are really the first step on the ladder of development within developing economies. We started with t-shirts in high school, and we came to Los Angeles in 2007 to focus on the brand full time.

Apolis stands apart from other lifestyle brands for it’s commitment to global advocacy. What does it mean to be a “socially motivated” brand?

It all falls under the certification that we received about two years ago called B Corp. There’s a similar certification in the architecture community called LEED certification. We came across B Corp through Patagonia being the first B Corp in California. The B stands for “benefit”, and refers to benefiting workers, the community, and the environment. I think in many ways it’s used as more of a marketing term, but we wanted it to be something that we could really get behind.

What inspired you to start the Market Bag series, which now includes over 74 partners in 8 countries and supports employment for 21 women in Bangladesh?

Raan does everything creative and I handle the business side, and if it was up to me the Market Bag would have never happened. Raan was like, ‘This is such a great product and it has so much potential’, and I was like ‘We’re in the men’s business, it seems like such a distraction.’ But Raan insisted that it had potential, so we went with it. Now, over 40,000 market bags have been made, the production of which has employed over 21 women for over a year. It’s very incremental as far as impact, but it’s a lot bigger than it looks on paper. We started with a test order of 50 units, and now it’s become something that we couldn’t have even dreamed of.

Why did you choose Bangladesh to produce the Market Bag?

There’s an incredible history of jute fiber in Bangladesh that has created a ton of industry. It has become a staple as far as textiles go. We saw this jute fiber tote being made in Bangladesh and we were like ‘Hey, let’s keep the shape and basic idea, but add a couple of details to it to make it more our brand.’ Really, the sense of potential came when we were able to connect the local market to more of a global purpose. We had the idea to give our retail partners exclusive distribution of the bag, so we support the local market, but connect everyone to the matrix of what it means to employ these women in Bangladesh.

Tell us about your outpost in Tokyo.

We believe that opening additional stores is going to be through first learning regional markets. For the short term, we decided to do a traveling, temporary installation called Nomad Market inside of our retail partners’ shops. The installation features the Apolis collection and uses an iPad to showcase our films and a little photo gallery that gives us an overview of each country that we work in. The goal is to bring our global products and stories to a local audience within a very intimate installation that is currently located at the Journal Standard in Tokyo.

Describe the Apolis customer in three words.

Global, Thoughtful, Timeless

You’ve developed projects in Bangladesh, Uganda, India, Peru, Honduras, and the Middle East. Where do you intend to impact next?

Our hopes as far as what’s next is very relational. Our hearts hurt for the people in Korea, but we’re not reading the news and saying ‘Hey, let’s go there’. We ultimately need someone on the ground that we trust. We have built off of the philosophy that each transaction builds trust, and that’s what we’ve found to be true throughout our Middle East cross-border collaboration. These countries are arguably in the midst of the most intense conflict in the world, and they are talking about how their leaders are claiming progress but nothing is really happening. Advocacy through industry isn’t about rethinking the world, it’s about using commerce to bridge a lot of these issues . As far as the future, it’s mostly about sustaining and growing what we are already doing, and being thankful for the stories that drop in our lap. In any given month we’ll receive about fifty opportunities, and only one of those actually goes to the next level because there are so many things that are hard to sort logistically.

Clearly, you are a well traveled bunch. Where do you escape to when you need a break from it all?

We love spending time with family. My wife’s family is from Southern Oregon, Raan’s wife’s family is from Colorado, and our family is from Santa Barbara, so any of these places are go-to’s.

Pick up a Koreatown Market Bag at Poketo at The Line Hotel or order one at poketo.com (while supplies last!)

Interview by Chantal Chadwick

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We Went To Coachella in Three Lookshttp://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/17/we-went-to-coachella-in-three-looks/ http://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/17/we-went-to-coachella-in-three-looks/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:38:18 +0000 http://blog.poketo.com/?p=10621 keep reading]]>
Lifetime Devon Dress, Teal Baggu Clutch, HighLow Ardor Necklace

If you’re headed to the more mellow second weekend at Coachella, here are three outfits that will be sure to catch the eye of that beautiful Drowners lead guitarist, Matt Hitt, or at the very least keep you looking über hip à la Dev Hynes of Blood Orange.


Ace & Jig Crayon Dress, Yellow Baggu Clutch


Ace & Jig Spectrum Dress, Orange Baggu Clutch

Swing by our Flagship in the Arts District on your way south and mention this post for 10% off the above items! Even if you aren’t going to Coachella (fine, we didn’t either), we’ll still hook you up.

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The Results of Ceramics with Ben Medanskyhttp://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/16/the-results-of-ceramics-with-ben-medansky/ http://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/16/the-results-of-ceramics-with-ben-medansky/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:16:51 +0000 http://blog.poketo.com/?p=10618 keep reading]]>

After receiving a good firing in Ben Medansky’s kiln, the terracotta pieces that were created during Ceramics with Ben Medansky have been returned to the Poketo Flagship and are ready to be picked up by workshop participants. We are so impressed with the results that we feel they are worthy of a blog post! Check out the impressive work of these novice ceramicists, and if you feel inspired to pick up a new skill we have lots of workshops coming up, including Fiber Art Jewelry with Cathy Callahan on May 4th and the ever-popular Sriracha, Mustards, and Ketchup Workshop with Zac Negin on May 18th.

P.S. Ben was recently featured in T Magazine’s On the Verge: The New Ceramicists. A limited quantity of his exclusive mugs for Poketo are still available at poketo.com—Get em’ while they’re hot!

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Designer Profile: Sean Knibbhttp://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/15/designer-profile-sean-knibb-2/ http://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/15/designer-profile-sean-knibb-2/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 18:06:24 +0000 http://blog.poketo.com/?p=10616 keep reading]]>
photo courtesy of Cykora Photography

Sean Knibb, founder of Venice Beach, CA based Knibb Design, uses natural materials, organic forms, and open spaces to create indoor and outdoor environments that blend insight, function, and intimacy. Sean received formal training in design at the Otis Parsons School of the Arts, and in 1992 he opened Knibb Design, which has since become an award-winning firm specializing in environmental design. Sean and his team have worked on a wide range of projects that vary in scale, including estate gardens, furniture, restaurants, and commercial and residential interiors and exteriors. Recent projects include The Line Hotel, a perfect example of Sean’s ability to juxtapose natural and man-made forms to create environments that are visually compelling yet soothing and inviting.

We spoke briefly with Sean about influences, current projects, and his personal living space.

How does the tropical landscape of your upbringing influence your design process today?

I was born in Jamaica but moved to Miami and then Southern California at 9 years old, so my influence is a melange of cultures—a colonial upbringing mixed with Venice surf and skateboarding.

You design both interiors and exteriors. Do you prefer one over the other?

No, it’s not about the space, it’s about the people.


photo courtesy of Cykora Photography

Favorite project yet?

The next one.

What are you working on currently?

Improving my life and myself.

Describe your personal living space in three words.

Earthy, Soft, Bohemian

Peek into the studio of fellow Line Hotel collaborator Erin Althea here.

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Staff Picks: Eric Wanghttp://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/14/staff-picks-eric-wang/ http://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/14/staff-picks-eric-wang/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 20:09:46 +0000 http://blog.poketo.com/?p=10612 keep reading]]>

We asked the charming, witty, and multitalented Eric Wang, Poketo’s Operations Manger (he is also a musician and DJ), to share his Poketo top five. Read on for Eric’s picks, and be sure to get out of the way if you see this proud west coaster in the bike lane!


West Coaster
I’m so happy to be a West Coaster that I want to show it all the time. Just in case I lose my mind and move, it’s good to know there’s an East Coaster and Gulf Coaster set available too.


Japanese Bike Bell
Seeing this minimal, beautiful bell reminds me that I must up my game for my bicycle. It’s far more civilized compared to my current style, which involves yelling at everybody on the street. This bell can do all that for me quite effectively.


Woodland Creatures Raccoon
I got this for my baby niece, Everly, and it’s her favorite thing to snuggle up to! I want to be Everly’s favorite uncle, and I think this little raccoon earned me some massive uncle points.


Japanese Cast Iron Pan
Nothing beats cooking up your own steak and chops in some serious cast iron. Civilized cast iron. This is also awesome for breakfasting. I want to serve up grub in these beauties all the time.


Hedley & Bennett Tik Tak Apron
Part of being a professional is to be able to rock a professional look. This apron gets you there in an instant. The aprons are so well-crafted. I love the stitching and details. Look for the ampersand logo—it’s a sign of quality and R E S P E C T.

Check out our Store Manager (and the designer behind HighLow jewelery) Sonya Gallardo’s picks here.

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Poketo Alley-Oop Art Car is Headed to Coachellahttp://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/11/alley-oop-car-hella/ http://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/11/alley-oop-car-hella/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:05:09 +0000 http://blog.poketo.com/?p=10607 keep reading]]>

Those of you heading to Coachella this weekend might behold quite the spectacle of a vehicle—the result of Poketo handing over a Scion IQ to artists Will Bryant and Eric Trine. Normally parked at The Line Hotel as a satellite installation to the Alley-Oop II design exhibition at our Downtown LA Flagship store, the Alley-Oop Art Car will be making it’s way to Palm Springs this weekend to soak up the sun and some tunes.

If you see us on the road, be sure to beep and say hi and tag #poketoxtheline and #alleyoopla. Follow us @poketo instagram for pictures of our weekend adventures in the desert.

The car will be back at it’s home at The Line Hotel on Monday, where it shall remain through May 5th. Swing by post-Coachella and check it out up close! Big love to our friends at Scion and Scion AV for making these hot wheels a reality!

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Interview: Adam McDermott of Linushttp://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/10/interview-adam-mcdermott-of-linus/ http://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/10/interview-adam-mcdermott-of-linus/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 16:00:57 +0000 http://blog.poketo.com/?p=10601 keep reading]]>

Inspired by their travels throughout bike-friendly cities in Europe and Asia, Adam McDermott and Chad Kushner co-founded Venice Beach based Linus Bike in hopes that creating a simple, elegant, and affordable bike would boost LA’s cycling culture. Now, a few years later, Linus Bikes are sold in most major cities in the United States and the LA driver has grown accustom to sharing the road with cyclists. Most recently, Linus was commissioned by The Line Hotel to build 25 co-branded bicycles as well as create local bicycling route maps for hotel guests. We chatted with Adam about biking in LA, collaborating with The Line, and the reason that Copenhageners are rated the happiest people in the world.

Tell us about the bike you custom built for The Line—how is it different than the other Linus Bikes?

We stripped it down to the frame and repainted it with Linus and Line co-branding. Then we built it back up with a Brooks leather saddle and wrapped the handle bar in our leather bar tape. We added a brass bell and a head lamp, and we made a custom black and white pannier bag to hang off the rear rack.

Favorite bike ride in LA?

I ride for transportation, trying to replace as many car trips with bike trips as I can. The ride that probably gives me the greatest joy is the Sunday summer beach day, when traffic is backed all the way up Venice and the parking lots are full… I can ride my bike all the way to the sand without the least bit of effort. I also like leaving a crowded restaurant with a full stomach and riding home in the cool night on quiet back streets.

If you weren’t designing bikes, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be making something at the intersection of art and utility… furniture, lamps, food etc.

Now, when you aren’t busy designing bikes, how do you spend your time?

Swimming in the ocean, hanging out with my cat, watering the garden, thinking about bikes.

Most bike friendly city in the world?

Copenhagen for sure. They have a super highway just for bicycle commuting with pump stations, and lanes for single use or side by side riding with a friend. They have angled trash cans for cyclists, and they have the bike escalator to help cyclists up steep hills. No wonder they are consistently rated the happiest people in the world!

The Everyday Sac by Linus is available at poketo.com

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Recap: Alley-Oop II Opening and After Partyhttp://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/08/recap-alley-oop-ii-opening-and-after-party/ http://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/08/recap-alley-oop-ii-opening-and-after-party/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 18:49:47 +0000 http://blog.poketo.com/?p=10602 keep reading]]>

This past Saturday the Poketo flagship hosted the opening of Alley-Oop II, a collaborative exhibition of work by artists Will Bryant and Eric Trine. Guests interacted with the playful sculptures while munching on doughnuts from Cafe Dulce and fries from Wurstkuche before heading over to The Line Hotel for a nightcap.


Eric Trine and Will Bryant


Bacon and Fruity Pebble Doughnuts Courtesy of Cafe Dulce and Fries from Wurstkuche


Artist Erin Althea with husband Mike Bertino and daughters


Will Bryant and Eric Trine with friends


Will Bryant and wife Sally Bryant


Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung of Poketo


Spencer Dennis and Chantal Chadwick

If you missed the opening, the exhibition will be on view through May 5th, and we will be posting a more in-depth look at the individual pieces in the coming days! In the meantime, you can check out more photos from both the opening and the after party on facebook.

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Erin Althea Studio Visithttp://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/07/erin-althea-studio-visit/ http://blog.poketo.com/2014/04/07/erin-althea-studio-visit/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 16:00:00 +0000 http://blog.poketo.com/?p=10599 keep reading]]>

Erin Althea is a Los Angeles-based illustrator, painter, and sculptor. When asked how she defines herself, she says that she’s simply an artist and would prefer to go without labels. She is also the wife of fellow artist Mike Bertino (they have collaborated on various projects, including illustrations for McSweeney’s) and the mother of twin five-year-old girls. We had the pleasure of visiting her idyllic home in Highland Park, where she resides with her family and works from a tranquil outdoor studio. Erin invited us to observe her in the process of creating her concrete and resin paperweights, which she was recently commissioned to make for The Line Hotel—one for every hotel room. Amid laughter and conversation, we captured Erin pouring concrete into molds, injecting resin and pigment into the negative space, and sanding the final product: a minimalist, modern paperweight sculpture that is distinct for its simplicity and innovative design.

Erin Althea’s Concrete Paperweights can be purchased at poketo.com or at the Poketo store at The Line Hotel.

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