EC: It’s fascinating how consumption is expressed in your products. You have highlighted several ways that we (over) consume materials — including our use of economic, dietary, and energy resources. Can you please comment on how the role of the consumer provides a point of view for your designs?
LK: Design is about creating objects for other people, for consumers, for the market. That’s where I draw the line between design and art. Art is about creating something because you want to create it, to express yourself. So by that definition, the role of the consumer is essential to any design. I think the design world often times tries to pretend that it’s not about commerce, that it’s about beauty and refined tastes and something much classier. We make fun of that. We embrace the fact that this is about consumerism. If you’re buying something because it makes you feel good or cool or whatever, fine. We all do it. Just have the decency to admit it. And think about who or what you’re supporting when you spend those dollars. You don’t need to give up consumerism, but you should consciously decide what to support.
EC: What are we craving through objects? Do you see the possibility of our society restraining the consumer diet or being satiated by a more nourishing kind of product?
LK: Everyone craves something different. I don’t see the appetite receding any time soon, but I do think people can be satiated by a more nourishing kind of product. With our jewelry, for example, I see it as feeding people’s appetite for fashion and yet slipping in a vitamin. You’ll look good wearing it, of course, but you just might start a conversation about important current events.
EC: What is the educational mission behind the Design Glut webzine? What is the vision behind this design forum?
LK: Well, we stumbled right out of art school into trying to run a business. And it immediately became clear that school hadn’t prepared us for the business world. We ended up getting into all these crazy situations, like having pallets of merchandise delivered to our apartment, having to break them down on the street and then figure out where the hell we were going to store everything. We started talking with other entrepreneurs, and we realized we weren’t the only ones who had no idea what we were doing in the beginning! You learn by screwing up, and then getting up and dusting yourself off and trying again. Every start-up has these great stories about the trials and tribulations they’ve gone through. So we started collecting the stories and posting them to our website. We hope that they will inspire others to follow their own dreams. The central lesson, in my opinion, is that no one gets to the top because of their super-human abilities. They get there by working hard, not giving up, and a healthy dose of luck and coincidences along the way.
EC: Tell me a little bit please about your creative collaboration. What brings the two of you (Liz and Kegan) together as designers?
LK: When we did our first show together, it was just because it logistically made sense. Neither of us had very much money or very many products, so we shared a space. And then halfway through the preparations, we looked at each other and were like, “Huh, I don’t usually like working with other people, but this is going really well!” We both work really, really hard. We both have a similar aesthetic. If you look at our personal artwork, it’s almost eerily similar, except Kegan works on a massive scale and I work on a tiny scale. But probably most importantly, we both have grandiose dreams. We convince each other that we can pull things off that, to everyone else, seems crazy and impossible. And then we do it.
EC: What’s coming up for you in 2009? Next steps?
LK: Well, we’ve always got grand plans and new products in the works. We’re almost ready to launch one of them, so keep an eye out! Our next show will be ICFF (May 16-19, ’09). In the meantime, we’re really interested in continuing to grow the website. Readership has increased a lot recently; it’s very exciting. Right now we’re working on a redesign of the site. The look and feel will stay pretty much the same, but we’re bringing in more creative entrepreneurs to blog about their experiences. In celebration of the 1-year anniversary of our blog (July 2009) we’ll be holding a show with work from some of our favorite creatives that we’ve interviewed. I’m getting really excited about the play that can happen back-and-forth between the digital world and the physical world. For example, bringing a group of people, who share having their names listed on our website, together in a physical space. We’re also thinking about releasing a printed magazine. We’d like to approach designing a magazine from a product-design point of view; design it like an object which we want people to love and keep. We’d pull articles from our website which all fit a certain theme, and tie them closer together, elaborating on what the central message/lesson is. Eventually I’d love to make a book.