I first learned of Kiel Mead Designs via Lucky Magazine years and years ago.
His jewelry was featured, caught my eye and from that point forward, I had the Forget Me Knot ring (as sold on Areaware) at the top of my bookmarked items for a long time. It’s actually still there. For years I coveted the delicateness and design, and watched Kiel’s collection gain popularity, becoming more and more recognized on other online sites and magazines. From time to time I’d see his jewelry featured, and it always reminded me how badly I wanted one.
But I never bought it during all those lustful years. Somehow in my mind it had spiraled into something that I didn’t want to just buy for myself; I didn’t earn a lot of money at the time (well, that hasn’t changed), and I didn’t spend my disposable income on luxurious things.
I probably wouldn’t be writing this post if I hadn’t started dating this special guy. He bought it for me last V-Day, and happiness ensued.
Fast forward to earlier this month, when I dared to contact my favorite designer to introduce myself and offer him a work-pad feature on the site. As you know, I love a good workpad, and I was hopeful to learn more about Kiel’s inspiration and motivations relating to his studio. He obliged! Big thank you!
There was clapping involved. And that is obviously why I’m sharing this here interview with you: Meet Kiel Mead.
Totally obscure factoid that I learned along the way but you won’t see in the below interview: Kiel and I graduated from high school the same year, one town apart in Western NY. Oh, and we also both still hold on to our WNY cell phone area codes, holler.
1. For my readers, can you describe your work and background briefly?
As a designer, I want to make the unexpected. I have always been obsessed with iconic objects that we use in our everyday life (might be the first impulse a person has before they decide to become a designer…) A key, a match stick, and a piece of string are all objects that have existed for a very long time. We use these things without giving much thought to how important they are. When I first started making jewelry, my goal was to take these objects that have existed for generations and transforming them into something else–something you can wear, or even ironically something you can give as a gift. Over the years I have been trying to push this notion. Some of my favorite pieces are the ABC gum necklace and the retainer necklace. I can’t help but smile when one of those sells.
2. Tell me about your workpad: Studio? In-home or out-of-home? And how did you choose that particular space?
Right now I am working out of my studio that functions as an office and a work space. It is in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I could work almost anywhere, but I have been fortunate enough to have a great studio for the past four years. My studio not only allows me to craft new pieces of jewelry, but I also can maintain a fully functional wood shop. In my studio, I am able to experiment with new designs.
3. Do you have any custom-made/DIY’ed furniture or storage in your space? (I love custom workspaces and a good organizational strategy in terms of how people store materials and finished pieces; everyone has such a unique take based on their craft!)
Come to think of it, everything in my studio is customized to me. Building up my work space to be more user-friendly is one of the most rewarding and therapeutic projects. It’s a slow process, but everything added helps the work-flow. I recently added a peg wall for my tools (long overdue). I love to scope out my friends’ work spaces to see how they have things arranged. Chen Chen and Kai Williams have a pretty interesting set-up.
4. I always like to ask: Do you keep any specific items, books, or tsotchkes in your space to inspire you?
I try to keep my inspiration on constant rotation, however I do have some favorite books I like to keep close at hand–Roy McMakin: A Door Meant As Adornment, Birds of The World, Take Ivy, and the McMaster-Carr catalogue are all always within reach.
Editors interjection: Love how he surrounds himself with his inventory, like Sebastian’s Stake (top of which shown here):
And a new batch of Forget Me Knot rings, swoon:
5. Care to share any business insight into how you’ve gotten your jewelry sold in so many shops?
I help out at one of the best design stores in the city, The Future Perfect. I owe a lot them for my success. My best advice: work for a store that you admire. If you can’t work for a store, then align yourself with those who run a great design store. Bring them cookies! The easiest and fastest way for you to get noticed is to let someone influential know about what you do. That “someone” can be a store owner, blogger, designer, a club of people, anyone. The better you sell yourself, the more successful you will be. Press will come to those who spread the word. Oh yeah, and you have to make great things. :)
I co-founded and now maintain The American Design Club (AmDC). Our mission is to help emerging designers become noticed–we provide a networking “launchpad” for new designers. We have had a ton of success stories and are doing so many great things!
6. Any events coming up this summer that we should know about?
I will be participating in the New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF) in August with members of the American Design Club. The AmDC is also planning a show for the fall. It is very hush-hush right now, however I can say it is going to be a very strange, provocative and exciting show. A teaser we are working on right now includes this: At Home. 3 A.M. Suddenly: SMASH!! What do you grab? Oh boy, I have said too much!
Emily’s back: Ooh! Very exciting. Maybe I will be taking a trip to NYC this fall. I love your ambition and enjoyed learning about how much you’re involved in beyond your jewelry and furniture business.
I hope you all enjoyed meeting Kiel and learning about his studio and inspirations; I’m looking forward to seeing more from him in coming years, and watching his business grow.