ARTIST INTERVIEW: Amanda Blake of Calder Blake
Calder Blake is a line made up of pieces centered around designer Amanda Blake’s idea of creating beautiful, simple things–made to last. Inspired by designers and artists such as Nakashima and Arp who studied the spirit of a material and designed with this in mind. These artists used natural mundane materials such as wood, steel, clay and transformed the into pieces that have lived with us through the years. Calder Blake is built upon this ethos and is a line of beautiful understated clothing crafted from simple cotton jersey that will live in your closet for years to come. As Nakashima chose his wood wisely in crafting his furniture, so has Amanda in choosing the finest cotton jersey that is made in the United States. Calder Blake is accented by other natural fabrics that create a quiet, balanced and classic line made in California.
We spoke to Amanda about her story and creative process.
What is your background and how have your past experiences fed into your art?
I went to university for fashion design at Parsons in New York City and have worked for many brands over the years including Calvin Klein in New York and Joie in Los Angeles. Being a part of these brands growth taught me how to run a business and build my own brand. I loved designing into each of the brands with their brand message/ customer in mind and working with the challenges around this. After starting my family I felt a passion to create my own brand and the culmination of all my years experience in creative direction, design and merchandising combined with my own voice gave birth to Calder Blake. The creativity and voice were always there but the years of experience gave me the guts to do it on my own.
Do you feel that your environment feeds into work and if so, what makes your work distinctively Californian?
Yes I definitely feel that my environment feeds into my work. I have been lucky to grow up on the east coast and have gotten my foundation in New York City which through its environment pushed my work ethic as well as international flavor. I felt a huge draw to move to California and have truly found a home here with its pioneer spirit of “make life what you want it to be attitude”. What makes my work distinctively Californian is that it is season-less and can be worn year around. Everything is designed, knitted and made her in Los Angeles and I call the local community of craftsmen my family. I have built everything from the ground up which I feel is very much in the spirit of why people were drawn to California in the first place. On a personal level the sheer natural beauty and diversity of landscapes in California is a constant inspiration in my work as it refuels my spirit and allows me the quiet in which to create.
After having lived in Los Angeles for 14 years I have come to sense the seasons: the time of year the nasturtiums bloom on the hills, the smell of the citrus blossoms in february, the santa ana winds in the fall which are all very subtle like the details of my line…you have to slow down to take it all in.
What are your top 3 studio essentials?
1) My clients and customers – My studio and store are in the same space which allows me the luxury of being able to get feedback and hear what works and doesn’t, I love the organic and holistic feeling I get designing with my clients around me and having that connection.
2) My HUGE linen covered mood board that takes up an entire wall in the studio. It is ever changing and is the heart of the studio.
3) A stack of vintage and new books that can be on art, design, photography, woodworking, etc. to look upon for feeling and inspiration. The selection is ever changing as the store carries some of them and others are prized volumes that I look to every season for a gauge of my mood.