ARTIST INTERVIEW: Lauren & Ryan of Preppi
Ryan Kuhlman, film director, and Lauren Tafuri, stylist and costume designer, founded Preppi out of the growing need for emergency preparedness. They started Preppi because they felt an absence of emergency preparedness supplies that had any element of design, and they wanted to create something that was as much functional as it was aesthetically pleasing. All of their kits are made in downtown Los Angeles.
We adore their modern aesthetic and high quality supplies, and highly recommend to all! We spoke to Lauren and Ryan about their creative journey.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do now. Did you take any big risks to get where you are?
We have both been working in fashion, film, & advertising for the past 15 years. I studied painting at UCLA and somehow my creativity took me down an accidental career of styling and costume design, and Ryan went to the USC for film & art. We were inspired to make something that wasn’t just aesthetically pleasing, but was also very useful and functional— something that could truly help everyone.
What are you artistic goals for the future? Next week, or next year, or 20 years from now?
We really want as many people to be prepared for emergency situations as possible. Up until now we have been more of a boutique company, but 2016 was a big year for us, and we are now selling to more customers across different markets. While we love designing and making some of our higher end bags, it is more important for us to get our more basic emergency survival kits into the hands of the masses. Food, water, and first-aid are truly so important in emergency situations — that’s why we want to make a kit for everyone no matter what you’d like to spend, whether it be $50 or $5000.
How do you believe Preppi has the power to influence the world outside of the artistic community? Is art important in our current moment of conflict and upheaval?
Preppi influences outside of the art world by having a highly functional element. Using eye catching design was how we first got the brand off the ground, but now we have just as many customers buying it simply for the fact that it has the best contents: schools, offices, etc are now keeping our product on hand and ready. But to answer the question, its not just about being inside or outside of the art community— all communities need to be in constant conversation for this global world to run smoothly. It’s not that only art is important during this current moment of conflict and upheaval but all forms of expression and communication— journalism, art, commerce, politics all need to be constantly produced, read, challenged.
What do you do, or where do you go to seek fresh ideas or renewed creative energy?
Travel. Always travel. The cure for any creative block is a little globe trotting. More specifically, we have been enjoying finding design inspiration in Copenhagen and in Austria. Austrians have a tremendous respect for nature as much technology. And you can easily see it everywhere from the nuances of their city planning, to how their farms’ fields are groomed, to how a dish of food is plated.
What other artists currently working do you admire?
Agnes Badoo, besides being a EPCF legend, is a wonderfully smart and creative human being. She instantly reminds you its not just the work you produce that makes you an artist, but the life you live and the community you live with.
Are you inspired by the environment around you? How does the home/city/nature you live in affect your work?
Yes, living in Los Angeles was the very inspiration for Preppi. We had a minor shaker and realized we were not prepared with any supplies. When we looked for an earthquake kit for ourselves, and saw that everything available came in cheap nylon bags, we realized there was a lot of room for a rethinking of the entire industry, and that it would be fun to design our own kits.
Did you have any artists in your family, mentors, or other important creative influences?
Ryan’s uncle John Kacere was a very successful artist— he may well be the only painter who dedicated his entire life to painting the female rear. Our dear friend Noah Davis is a constant inspiration for us, an amazing painter and founder of the Underground Museum here in Los Angeles.
What do you hope to share with those who purchase your art and bring it intimately into their lives?
We started Preppi really because there was an absence of emergency preparedness supplies that had any element of design. We wanted to create something that was as much functional as it was aesthetically pleasing. Our message is very simply: Be prepared. California has a million and one things that could happen at any time of the day: earthquakes, mudslides, tsunami’s, power outages and this year now even potential political instability! We hope to bring a tremendous sense of comfort and confidence to people that own our products. The world is stressful enough right now, why not worry about one less thing knowing you will be prepared with food, water, and first-aid on hand.