ARTIST INTERVIEW: Edie Kahula Pereira of Specialty Dry Goods
Inspired by everyday culture worldwide, Los Angeles based Specialty Dry Goods‘ approach to design and making is the human touch of a modern artisan. The line is focused on hand crafted utilitarian bags made of quality materials. Founder Edie Kahula Pereira’s diverse (working) background in architecture, as a product producer, art/product curator, fashion scout and travels to places far away has greatly influenced her creative direction. We spoke to Edie about her inspirations and creative process.
What is your background and how have your past experiences fed into your art?
I was born and raised in Hawaii. Though my ethnic mix includes Chinese lineage, I’ve found myself with a lifelong attraction to the Japanese sensibility of wabi sabi and the beauty found in imperfection. Imperfection surrounded me in my youth as did diversity of culture and simplicity of life living on an island in the middle of an ocean.
Imperfection as an aesthetic, as it relates to my brand ‘Specialty Dry Goods’, comes from a place of making – the things that happen during the process of making (by hand) that contribute to each bags individual character. My design decisions are also greatly influenced by the materials and tools I work with and the limitations of working with just the bare necessities. Simplicity is quite naked and complex. My focus is more on the (connection) details – the bringing together of leather straps, ties and hand cut leather parts, tying or hand sewing them together with linen yarn to create a way to carry this bag around. I suppose this is where my masters in architecture and working in product development comes into play. (Code) limitations are a fact in these fields. The solutions greatly impact the design if not become the design.
As a product producer and fashion scout, I was able to travel internationally. to experience everyday culture in other countries is incredibly inspirational. Driven by function and use for their daily lives – people make beautiful things. there’s a humanness in creating with hands. its visually and physically tactile. Images of what I witnessed during those travels pop up in my head – inside the walls of old city Marrakesh a boy sits on a medieval 2 wheel wooden cart pulled by a donkey carry hides; a half naked man pedals uphill (on a chaotic Shanghai street) with ease hauling 4-8′ tall panes of glass sitting on an improvised wooden frame that hangs on the back wheels of his bicycle; a child sits (on a broken chair wrapped in salvaged materials) practicing the skill of burnishing that she will use to make traditional black pottery at her family’s village workshop in la chamba. Even though many years have passed, these images are still with me and I think they always will be.
Do you feel that your environment feeds into work and if so, what makes your work distinctively Californian?
Veg tan leather is a primary material of Specialty Dry Goods. (Southern) California weather allows me the luxury of almost year round sun exposure to lay out the (nearly white) hides to darken. Wrinkled denim and leather is a signature design intention. The almost crunchy texture happens once the materials are air dried in the sun, after being machine washed. California weather is integral to my design process in the making of Specialty Dry Doods products. If I were living in New York or London (because of what the weather would allow), my designs would have a different look and feel.
What are your top 3 studio essentials?
Backyard space (open to the sky) with clothesline for tanning hide and drying denim, my daylight filled home/studio and KCRW live throughout the day.