ARTIST INTERVIEW: Edie Kahula Pereira of Specialty Dry Goods
Edie Kahula Pereira and her brand Specialty Dry Goods celebrate the beauty of imperfection, the design process and handcrafted details. As designer and maker for SDG, Edie’s work is human, distinctly tactile, and somewhat quirky. Inspired by objects found in the everyday (where function and necessity are a must), these engaging and beautiful utilitarian works stand the test of time. Edie strives to design goods that are just that. Based in Los Angeles, Edie’s creative journey to Specialty Dry Goods began in Fashion-Retail, earning a Masters degree in Architecture then working in the field, work as a Fashion Scout, Product Development and Art Curation for pop up exhibitions. Edie feels even more than ever that “experiencing global culture through travel is a must for everyone – it is the road to understanding the jewel that is cultural diversity.”
We spoke to Edie about her work and her inspirations.
How do you find a balance between practicality and beauty in your creations?
what I learned in architecture school is form follows function. Because my designs rarely include hardware, focusing on the strap detail and how it will function in relation to the body of the bag is the first thing I think about. next thought would be the shape, proportion, size and scale – thinking of the bag as a whole object. I imagine how I might use the bag – what would I put in it and what can it hold? Taking it out for field testing – is it frustrating to use and to carry? Are the straps too narrow, too wide, too long, too short? All very practical questions that ask for practical decisions (if you want to design a bag for long time use). A bag design has its own color / leather preference. Sometimes, just like us, they don’t look good in black. The beauty comes once all the decisions are made and issues are resolved. Really, (for me) practicality is the beauty and the beauty is practicality.
How do you define success in your art or craft, or alternately, what does failure mean to you?
Gosh…(In my everyday life) I don’t really think about success cause #workworkwork is the never ending priority. Ok thats sort of a I lie, I think about (financial) success when that bill has to be paid, or when the decision has to be made to spend thousands of dollars in fees to do a trade show that you have absolutely no idea if you will cover those costs or when I have to spend a shitload on leather to keep moving my brand forward. success for me is coming up with a design that makes me smile. Success for me is when a customer comes back for a second, third and fourth bag. it is a very satisfying feeling (and its a feeling that has absolutely nothing to do with money). Success for me is letting go of something that doesn’t work (in its present form) and allowing yourself be good with it. success for me is that moment of peace. Failure is defined as the lack of success. To me failure means reevaluation, editing, redirection, reinvention, regrouping…taking a time out for adjustment then jumping back in.
Do you have a favorite creation, artwork, or design of your own?
My favorite leather to work with is natural veg tan. My favorite design to make in veg tan – the saddlebag. I love how they age together. The saddlebag was one of my first designs and the bag I made for myself to travel to my first New York trade show as specialty dry goods. I still reach for that bag when #specialtydrygoodsisontheroad.
Do you have any objects you like to keep around you as inspiration? What are they?
Tuareg rings made from melted coins – imperfect, substantial, beautiful in its structure. Not an object but a Zoe Crosher photograph from her LAX series. I look into its whiteness staring between the reflection of a tiny jet taking off and 3 palm tree heads. Visuals…Books, Books, Books and yes…magazines!. There are those few I return to year after year just for the joy of appreciating the image.
Who are some current artists, creators, or people working in other fields whose work you admire?
Frances Mcdormand, Christina Kim, all of my friends, colleagues and community of people who work hard to create the lives they want for themselves and through that journey find the place they will be.
What is a new idea you have been working with recently?
Currently, I’m in the very beginning stages of a collaboration with refugee makers project in Lancaster Pennsylvania and i’m very excited about the prospect of specialty dry goods being a participant in a project that involves implementing solutions to core (social) issues, even at this very minute scale. Reading about Christina Kim, her brand dosa, and her work with indigenous artisans and their craft in a 90’s Elle mag article was inspirational and continues to be. While employed as a product producer for a LA local design house, artecnica, I got to work with global artisans and international industrial designers on commercial and artisan-based product development projects. Being able to personally experience a village whose sole income evolves around their centuries old master craft of making black earthenware and the community infrastructure the village workshops set up to accomplish this economic goal, has made a lasting impact on me. When specialty dry goods came to be, I knew I wanted to do something more. Being the sole employee of SDG, there has never been time to explore. With this project I’m giving myself permission to play.