I always brag about how amazing all the designers we have in the shop are, and about how important it is for us to have a common philosophy or a common way to understand design and life in general, but sometimes there are special people you come across that it is just love at first sight and that is exactly what happened the first time I met Airi and Ryan, brilliant minds behind LA based WrkShp.
Marta: Hi guys!! First of all, how did it all get started? how did wrk-shp come to life?
Airi: When we first started wrk-shp, we were both working at architecture firms in Los Angeles. We went to an exhibition called, "Skin & Bones" at Museum of Contemporary Art that connected architecture and fashion. It put buildings designed by well-known architects next to high-end fashion pieces by well-known fashion designers sharing similar concepts. This was the moment when I realized that with my background in architecture, I can apply it to different creative outlets.
Ryan: We met in architecture school and I think we had just planned on becoming architects (laugh). Once we started talking about doing a clothing line, we knew we didn't want to just have a clothing company. We started picturing the whole brand and wanted to have product design as a bridge back to architecture.
M: That makes so much sense! I think that is exactly what attract me from you guys the first time, the fact that it is not only a clothing line or a collection but much more than that, the way you guys approach design and execute it feels way more global than just designing a garment.
What are the first steps when designing a new collection? Do you start by a color palette, or a textile, or a pattern? What is the first inspiration that set’s all in motion?
A: I'm typically inspired by architecture-related ideas, like material or urban landscapes, buildings or art... we start with a concept and I start sketching based on that. All of our design decisions, like picking the right buttons to designing the set for our lookbook, we try to validate them by tying it back to our main idea - I think we learned this in architecture school. I also source all of our fabrics from Japan, since I was born and raised there, it's a nice way to tie back to my background.
R: Materiality is such a huge part of our design, whether it's clothing or the products. The Japanese fabrics are amazing and become an important part of the final piece.
M: Perfect mix right there! The minimalism and strength of architecture plus the organic and earthy feeling of japanese fabrics. I feel you guys as a brand embodied that concept to perfection, but how would you describe in a few words what your brand is? What are the fundaments of it? And what keeps you motivated to continue doing what you do?
R: First and foremost, wrk-shp is a design studio. We're not only designing clothing or products, or just architecture. We are basically interested in almost any type of projects and put our "wrk-shp" spin on it -- which is clean, minimal designs with a focus on materials.
A: We are so excited about how quickly our brand is growing so that is a great motivation to keep us going. We also have a dream of opening a live/work/shop space one day where we can build our own place to showcase our work.
M: Yes please! Looking at your clothes I can’t not wait to see how you guys would translate that to a space! Talking about spaces, why did you chose Voyager/Revolver as a retailer? What excited you about us and made you decide to let us carry the brand?
A: We love to work with retailers that offer not just clothing but other products. Voyager is so great for us because you'll have our clothing and home goods so customers can get a better picture of our brand that way. Not only that but it has been so nice to work with you & we love how you care about the story behind every brand. Plus you have such great taste!
R: We also think that Voyager carries lots of great independent brands, and we are thrilled to be included in the mix!
M: Awww the feeling is mutual! We are more than happy to have Wrk-Shp at the shop not only because it is amazing but also because we really support and believe in what you are doing, which as you know is probably the most important thing for me. Seeing the brands that I love grow makes me so happy!
How do you see the line in 10 years? Where would you like to see it?
R: Well this sort of goes back to when we mentioned our dream wrk-shp space. Since we are architects, we are kind of obsessed with having a space we designed. The ultimate goal is to have a store/showroom space with a design studio connected to it.
A: We want to have customers walk in and discover all the different things we do. We love the idea that someone will come to our store for a dress, but leave with a house (laugh).
R: or vice versa.
M: Please, please make that happen! I will be the first one waiting at the door on the opening day!!
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