Taking Shapes:
An Interview with Designer Sade Mims

January 27th, 2022

By David Eardley

︎On a freezing night two years ago, I met Sade Mims, founder of wunderkind accessories brand EDAS, at a cozy bar in North Brooklyn to interview her about her design process for our old newsletter. We talked sustainability, the body’s relationship to wearables, and interdisciplinary thinking. You can read that interview here :)

Two years later, I called Sade from Mexico City to catch up and discuss her new studio space and showroom, located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The space features soaring industrial ceilings, vintage collectibles, and a set of custom furniture Sade commissioned specifically for the space. Throughout it all, you get the sense that Sade has an eye, not just for accessories, but for a very specific aesthetic approach. Her taste blends old and new, earth and sky, hard and soft—in it all, she creates a welcoming environment for her clients and friends to come into her world.

︎It’s so funny to be sitting here with you now, two years since our last interview. So much has changed.

I think that was our first time sitting down to talk. I met you before, in passing, but that was like our first sit-down—just vibing and talking and stuff. It was nice.

I remember being so nervous because I had been told so many cool things about you. Your brand, the big creative dinners you would throw. And this was before we had a big audience for Pink Essay. We had such a good time though. At the end I was like, “This was really a really great experience.”

Sade's Studio + Showroom
EDAS Studio + Showroom

And obviously it worked out because we're friends now. It's funny to be sitting here like two years later and to be doing this again. For you especially, so many things have changed, from your products to the awards you’ve received to the special grants—what has been, like, the biggest thing that has happened to you since our last interview?

I feel like my point of view has become a lot clearer, for myself, but also more importantly to our audience and our community. I always had dreams of merging all these worlds; making a conversation that isn’t just about just wearable accessories, but about accessorizing the home, the body, the mind, the spirit—all these things.

I was toying with those ideas back in 2020, but I think they’re a lot clearer now. I think the studio space is a huge reason for that.

Seeing the physical representation of that in the studio, it's really clear to me like what your vision is, both aesthetically and metaphysically.

I used to feel this pressure from the fashion world: you do fashion and that's what you do. Like you’re somehow not allowed to merge all these things or it won't really be tasteful or successful. And to me I've always thought that was odd. I alway thought that the world can be so many different things, under this one umbrella. Now that I'm able to clearly convey that without shame or guilt, letting go of self-doubt and these feelings—now I've completely released all of those things and leaned in wholeheartedly to my bigger vision.

Do you feel like having a physical space has helped you to anchor your vision in a time and place?

For sure, because I do think it's one thing to read the vision, to see it in images, but if you can have a full-on, in-person connection and hit all the senses at one time—I think that is the most real way that I take in things.

So the space has allowed for our vision to just be more clearly communicative. When you walk in, you see the bags, you see the table, you see the paintings that are works in progress. It’s a showroom, but it also acts as a really deep workspace. I wanted it to still feel like a work environment, which is why I was so conscious about choosing a building filled with craftsmen and and people who work with their hands.

One thing about EDAS that is really interesting to me is the way that it merges aesthetics and wearability. Clearly, they're beautiful pieces, but they're also meant to be used and to last. I think that's reflected also in your studio because you have this combination of very high level aesthetic pieces, like the big table and the pegboard that are also used every day in the space.

I love that you said that—that’s what it is for me. That's what's in my head.

Could you tell me a bit more about these pieces you designed for the space?

Working at Home Union, years ago, was a really big inspiration for me, in terms of my love for furniture and finding what I liked—what eras and designers I was attracted to. I think I've always known that I wanted to design furniture. Ironically enough, I met Noah, the maker of my pieces, at that store.

So when I knew that I was ready to design these pieces, I knew I wanted to work with a Black maker. I reached out to him and the rest went from there. We had lunch around the corner from my apartment and I came with all these sketches—all my ideas, color swatches. I remember him laughing; he was like, “Wow, I love how excited you are.”

Custom Table

We talked through the table concept—it wasn’t difficult, just had some limitations—because I was so specific about wanting it to solely just be three pieces, and one of the legs was a circle. We had to factor in all of these different details to make it work.

It’s cool how you were able to keep him in your mind and collaborate down the road. It’s what the design community needs: building relationships.

Relationships. I truly agree because he and I now are great friends. We hang out all the time. We speak a very similar language. And since then, he's been commissioned so much through that opportunity, which makes me so happy.

The pegboard was a great project too. I had this idea for it, but I’m not a woodworker—Noah elevated it to something fun and interactive. Which is great, because that’s what EDAS is all about. When people visit the showroom, I want them to feel welcome to interact with the pieces without pressure to buy something.

Custom Pegboard

What are dreams for the space beyond what you have now?

I definitely want to incorporate some sort of music element. We have a really cool event happening this year with this archeologist: he collects old periodicals of Vibe Magazine and XXL—all hip hop culture. He has this really great platform he’s created in Atlanta called Rap Style Archeology.

I’d love to collaborate with a bunch of people I’ve dreamed about having in here. And there’s already some stuff in the works. Overall, I want the space to be a hub. It feels really like something that will just evolve as I do.

It feels like it’s definitely on the way to being that. It’s set up to welcome people. Thinking about your process of setting up the space, what advice do you have for young creatives that are working and who want to establish a physical space for themselves like this one?

I talk to my mother a lot about this. The first thing is to take your time. I know that sounds so cliche, but I truly believe that when you take your time to build out the space, you’ll feel confident about and inspired, and it will read through whoever else comes in. As creatives, sometimes we get so excited and rush to do these things. I've been there too, but that is the one thing I made sure of—that with this space I took my time. And if that meant holding on to the space for almost a year before it can open, that's okay for me.

You’ve also got to think about how to make it sustainable, because space is expensive. Think about your programming and how it can bring you income. It’s something that I never had to think about in the past, but I’m really thinking about it now.

I think it’s great advice: thinking both creatively and practically.

In the end, I feel so good about the space. I feel good about the pace that I'm going and about finding my groove. It’s important to find your own personal pace: I think when you really do lean into your own thing, the world will be attracted to it.︎

Explore more of Sade and EDAS at @sademims and @edas.

Guest Edit:
Sound Design by Joseph Algieri

January 25th, 2022

By Joseph Algieri

Sound Design is a recurring feature in the Pink Essay newsletter where we invite designers and tastemakers to pair design and music and create something greater than the sum of parts.

Joseph Algieri is a ceramicist, lighting and home designer. Based in New York, his practice has spanned several different types of media, notably expandable foams and clay. Joseph’s work relies heavily on deconstructing and dissolving form, repetition, and expanding upon materials to their limit in a comedic fashion. His work has gained recognition from T Magazine to Architectural Digest, along with a growing audience of art lovers and designers combined. He can be found on Instagram via @megaplex.

︎I picked a motley assembly of items, mostly from the past, but also paying attention to new work that personally stands out. I like the idea of having cross-generational things in the home; that sort of combination helps balance out a personality, and allows an object with some patina to have a conversation amongst something more contemporary. It's about understanding and appreciating everything, and seeing how they interact; creating a story in relation to yourself and what you surround yourself with.

Mug by Lin Utzon for Royal Copenhagen

Her graphic work never ceased to amaze me. I love the broke, repetitive forms in her ceramics, murals, and the (amazing) rugs she made in the late 80s. The graphic quality of it is stimulating and unique.

The song’s breezy, carefree, just like the pattern. Everything’s relaxed and fun. Isn’t that what we always want?

Studio Fort by Marria Pratts

There's something so enticing of having the space where you work that allows you to collect yourself; it should be repeated in everyone's home/studio/work environment. I love how the build is DIY but methodical.

I like how loungey the track is. Can’t you see yourself wrapped up in a comforter dancing alone, thinking about everything you want? You’re in your zone.

Custom Seven-Piece Dinette Set by Peter Shire

It's loud, its obnoxious. It's the vibrant version of Camille Paglia manifested into a set of furniture. It makes you want to be posted on patio in LA or in the kitchen in an apartment on Via Lecco.

I wanted something from 1986 when this set was made. I just can never get over how poppy Modern Talking is. Their music is the ultimate feel good, vibrant, catchy beat that’s inescapable.

Padded Bench by Jinyeong Yeon

I love how bulky and unapologetically plump a stuffed object can be. Its comforting, but also makes you want to approach with caution, like walking up to an angry cat.

What I enjoy about Jinyeong Yeon’s bench is you could actually see this piece in the music video for this song. The palette is reminiscent of the desert and all of the standalone elements of the video could be represented by this piece of furniture, e.g. the horse, the motorcycle, etc.

“The Reliquary” by Teresa Fernandez-Pello

Repurposed coffee shop items and waste material. This up-cycle is not only hilarious, but chic. The elements of the candles and mosaic-like details of the broken porcelain is not dissimilar to a Mediterranean church; a tabernacle by the sea. A housing unit; the concept of security and shelter, composed of rubble. The contrast is what excites me.

For a piece so Mediterranean inspiring, Australia doesn’t really seem like an appropriately titled track. But the (e)motion of this song, the use of water, and synthy breeze carries you away and makes it feel as if you were floating above a Greek island.︎

An Interview with Artist Liam Lee

January 21st, 2022

By David Eardley

Header Photo by Chris Mottalini

︎One of my favorite things about running Pink Essay is getting to work with artists and designers with whom we’ve developed a professional friendship. With artist Liam Lee, I’ve been lucky enough to not only have an ongoing dialogue online, but to feature his work in my first solo curated show, Home Around You, which debuted last July.

I’m drawn to Liam’s work first and foremost by the color: the intensity of the dyed pieces is nearly supernatural, with deep tangerines and buzzing violets that suck you into another kind of universe. Liam launched his formal career as an artist with with his hand-felted textiles, crafting elaborate hanging pieces that emulated forms straight out of a petri dish, but has since taken the art and design community by storm with his sculptural furniture, which has been featured in Architectural Digest and Curbed. Liam and I met to speak about his new collection and to try to answer the big question: what is a designer?

So the last time we spoke was around the time of our exhibition - it’s been more than half a year! So wild how quickly time passes. I don't remember if you had actually debuted any of your furniture pieces at that point…

I hadn’t yet - at that time I was being fairly secretive about the new work because they were very much experiments and weren’t yet ready to share. I started making the furniture because I suddenly had time to focus on my own work and really experiment after I was laid off from my day job due to the pandemic—I ended up making a little chartreuse stool as a prototype to see what I could accomplish with wool as a sculptural material.

Through my textile work, I realized that I could sculpt the wool into a very three dimensional, almost structural form. And I wanted to really try to push the material in that direction and see how sculptural it could become.

Over the past month I’ve been preparing another exhibition and thinking about this spectrum, from fine art all the way over to hyper–practical design. One thing that’s interesting about your process to me is that your work falls into different sections of this spectrum. For example, as an outside observer I’d consider your tapestries to be more along the lines of fine art, while your furniture is closer to design end of the spectrum. What has interacting with these labels been like for you as you’ve gotten into furniture?

I don't see either my textile work or the furniture as falling neatly within the realm of design because “design” as I have understood it, and maybe this is myopic, feels like it involves a relatively structured approach to the creation of objects, spaces, etc. My creative process doesn’t really involve the deliberate planning that I associate with design, like you might find in architecture for example, or more traditional product design, which both seem to require years of training in an institutional setting [laughs]. When I begin work on a piece, the form unfolds much more organically and I’m generally not aware of a precise outcome but am more so moving towards a vague direction that begins to solidify and take form as I work. In that sense, I feel much more comfortable thinking of my work as sculpture.

You bring up a good point that there's almost a need for different language, both a language around what design is and a language around for things that we feel don’t fit within our traditional notion of design. This is a fun thing to talk about in one of these interviews that we're using to relaunch the newsletter because I think this is one of these questions that's at the core of what Pink Essay is. What do we call the objects that fill our space and does that nomenclature need to come from like the person who built them or an outside observer?

I would also push you - that is, I wonder if your own perception of yourself is coming from a response to gatekeeping - this idea that only people who have studied design in a traditional school setting have the right to label their work that way. A famous person named RuPaul once said, our inner saboteur is always telling us we’re not enough - that my work isn't design because I didn't go to school for it.

So, like, from my perspective, I feel like your work is both sculpture and fine art and design at the same time. Even if you don't feel like you use “the design process,” I  think it’s your right as the creator to decide what you want your work to be perceived as. It's interesting. It's a big, big question.

Definitely a big question. I think my hesitance to call what I do design work stems from imposter syndrome to some extent—I studied English as an undergrad and my path towards what I’m doing now has felt circuitous. My design education has come primarily from working in design-adjacent jobs, but I’ve also worked plenty of less related jobs, like at a PR agency for biotech companies and at a small arts foundation.

Before the pandemic, I worked for a set designer which, while very creative, felt to me to be much more of a production role, helping to facilitate the realization of a client or art director’s vision rather than my own (but I suppose that’s what a large portion of design work is!). I’ve also worked in an editorial capacity, compiling an architecture monograph for Reiser + Umemoto, which was an incredibly eyeopening and inspiring experience, both in terms of seeing how their firm operated on a daily basis and learning more about how their practice has evolved over time while retaining a very palpable unifying thread.

Do you feel like your interaction with social media and marketing your work has changed since you delved more into the sculptural furniture pieces?

In terms of social media, the major  thing that has changed in how I present my work is that I'm trying to show how it exists in a physical space. Before, the work was presented in a very two dimensional way. I would crop the edges of the textile pieces and it felt much more 2D.  I’ve been more inclined to show how my  work inhabits space—and this I think is due to creating more three-dimensional sculptural pieces, but it has also changed in how I want to present my textile work.

There’s something extremely physical about the new pieces you’ve been making - sort of probiotic, in a way.

Yeah—they can be very visceral. I look at various plants, mushrooms, seed pods, bacteria, and the human body—some of the forms are definitely phallic. The hope is to trigger a visceral response in the viewer or user … a moment of ambiguous recognition of a form that is at once familiar and alien. Playing with scale can help create this confusion.

I LOVE that you’re thinking that way, Because I think that design has become so innocuous the past couple of years - not necessarily in the content of it, but in just insisting on being really inoffensive aesthetically. Everything is so pastel and squiggly and cutesy and it gets kind of annoying at some point. Your work is definitely post-cutesy [laughs].

[Laughs] I’m glad that you think my work is post-cutesy! Of course, I’m aiming to make things that people will find aesthetically pleasing, but I also hope that my work can be challenging in some way, whether it’s through the materials or processes used in its creation, or through the form and color of the work itself. There’s a lot of room for beauty without sterility. Aside from hoping to avoid an aesthetic flattening into millennial repetition, I don’t really know what I’m doing other than trying to create work that I find interesting to make and to think about.

But that's honestly how the best stuff happens. I think we all have no idea what we're doing - some of us are better at pretending we do. I literally have no idea what I'm doing any moment of the day.

Do you have any big dreams of where you’d like to see your work?

I’m really excited that Patrick Parrish Gallery has opened up my work to a new audience, and it’s been exhilarating to see how people interact with it in a public setting. This year, I'd also love to develop work that is accessible to a broader range of people, whether it’s through functional ceramics or some other medium.︎

Explore more of Liam Lee at @studio_liamlee and studioliamlee.com.

Guest Edit:
Dream+World by Asia Grant

January 18th, 2022

By Asia Grant

Dream+World is a recurring feature in the Pink Essay newsletter where we invite designers and tastemakers to share their dream home, whatever form that might take.

Asia Grant is the Founder and Creative Director of Redoux, a line of skincare and scented items inspired by design and nostalgia. Her work focuses on how scent can be used to bring people together and celebrate our collective experiences. You can find her at @asia__grant and @redouxnyc on Instagram.

︎I've always wanted a space that physically looks like what a clear mind feels like. Spacious, bright, potentiating, and, most of all, welcoming. The personification of my space would be a wise, chic, well-traveled grandmother that looks 45 (but is actually 120) and has cut fruit waiting for you in the kitchen. The pieces in it feature elements of my multicultural upbringing and the small luxuries that make me feel most like myself.

Noguchi Akari Lamp

The Noguchi Akari 10D floor lamp is the quirky cousin to the more popular 10A. All Noguchi lamps are designed as "light sculptures" and the 10D features a more organic wire structure that blends timelessness with fun.

Vitsoe Shelving

The idea of having a full wall library in synonymous with self actualization for me. I'd want my library specifically on Vitsoe shelving because the subtle and modular design allows for more book faces to be seen. I'm normally reading more than one book at a time, and sometimes I just like looking at them on the shelf so I'd love to just lay them out.

Wooden Utensil Sculptures

I spent summer's in the DC suburbs with my Filipino grandparents and I distinctly remember this huge decorative wooden fork and spoon pair that was hung on the wall behind the breakfast table. Sharing a meal together is a cornerstone of my family culture and I've developed my own love for feeding friends so I'd love to bring this piece into my dream space to build on tradition.

"The Boy Swimming” by Michael Oliver Love

I saw this picture by Michael Oliver Love, titled "The Boy Swimming", and instantly fell in love. It's reminds me of David Hockney's pool series, specifically "A Portrait of an Artist." I also love water and be surrounded by it at all times in all visual forms.

Porcelain Dumplings by Stephanie H. Shih

I remember the first time I saw these Porcelain Dumplings by Stephanie H. Shih on Instagram and I screamed. I just want to use them in my house for everything from centerpieces to paperweights.

Hastens Mattress

I love sleep. We spend a third of our lives sleeping, and the remaining two thirds of our lives heavily depends on the quality of that first third. I use to think that a bed was something just what it was, but I was proven wrong after sleeping on a Hastens 2000T. I still dream of the sleep I got on that bed and have been forever changed.

Gingko Tree

This isn't a product, but I really want a gingko tree on my future dream property. To me this yellow is unmatched and joy in it's original form.︎

And We're Back:
The Pink Essay Newsletter 2.0

January 18th, 2022

By David Eardley

︎It’s been a collectively eventful past year to say the least. Globally, we’ve continued to endure and build community in spite of this massively overwhelming experience of the pandemic. It’s the little glimmers of joy that carry me through: seeing friendships built through a shared love for design, seeing barriers being broken down by designers and artists from underrepresented communities, engaging with exhibitions that offer an alternative to the homogenized aesthetic of luxury design - all of these experiences give me confidence that we can build a design community that helps to grow a new world.

Back back way when I started Pink Essay, our newsletter (2019-2020) was a huge part of the project. For our newer audience: the PE newsletter was a series of monthly interviews and special features, all centered around design within the built environment.

The newsletter offered lighthearted and unpretentious reading for the design-curious, and an opportunity to build relationships between PE and designers and creatives we had a lot of admiration for. As much fun as it was, it was also a massive amount of work for our tiny team, and we ended up taking an indefinite hiatus ︎

Around two years and many exhibitions, community events, and collaborations, we’re ready for a comeback - specifically, a newsletter reboot! One of our big goals for 2022 is to refocus on building community - the newsletter has been and will be a big part of this.

Newsletter 1.0 - Download back issues here

With the relaunch of the newsletter, you can look forward to: interviews with designers and tastemakers, curatorial design roundups, work reviews, and lots of special features. We’ve updated the look of the newsletter, with a focus on personal portraits the people involved, and have built out a mobile-friendly section of our website where you can easily explore archival interviews. 

Our work has always been community driven, and now more than ever we’re interested in hearing from you. Who and what is drawing your attention these days? What kind of change would you like to see in  design? What’s new and exciting?

Here’s the thing: when design functions as intended, it changes the world for the better. We want to make a space that lives by this principle and to rethink what it means to talk about design. Design should be joyful and energetic, and, most importantly, it should be for everyone.

We’re hoping you feel this energy from us as we relaunch the newsletter and look forward to collaborating with you along the way. Stay tuned :) ︎