Belt Buckles by Kiel Mead

Senior Editor Aaron Britt talked to Kiel Mead the other day, after an initial cruise through his site yielded the Birdie Light, which he promptly posted. A closer look yielded a handful of men's accoutrements that he rather liked, including a passel of belt buckles and a tie clip. They chatted them over and Kiel sent some pictures of his work. Be sure to check out the slideshow for a very design-savvy wardrobe upgrade.

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Tell me about the line of belt buckles. How did those come about?
It started because I went to a trophy store and as I looked at all the awards and placques and medallions it started to feel ridiculous to me how many things you could get an award for. They had awards for cooking and hunting and running. One that just had three cats on it, so I don’t really know what that was about. But there were so many different things that I thought I could make a line of ten belt buckles with these stamps that would otherwise go on plaques. They are the same stamps that would go on a medallion or a plaque, and then the rest of the hardware is the standard belt buckle stuff.
And the Hook and Rope and Twig?
I wanted basically to just figure out way to wear objects as belt buckles that would work as belt buckles but would make you rethink what a belt buckle had to be. A lot of my work is about taking everyday objects and crafting them in precious metals to alter their meanings. Like the tie clip is cast string. It works as a money clip too.
Where do you sell the medallion belt buckles?
I sell them at Azalea in San Francisco, The Future Perfect in New York, a little pop-up spot called Tenent in Aspen, Colorado, and a few other shops. They cost $160.
Tell me a bit about the American Design Club you and some friends founded in 2008.
It really just started out of friendship. We were all just a couple years out of school and met each other and decided to be friends. Even if we’re not all doing the same thing, we’re all like-minded, and to keep hanging out we decided ot form a club. From the get-go the American Design Club> was about showing new work. We wanted to bring eyes on our work and on the work of people at a similar stage as us—not exactly just starting out, but not stars by any means either. We wanted to progress. And the crazy thing is that in almost the same month of 2008 a couple other clubs like this started up in other cities as well. There’s the Object Design League in Chicago and Join Design Seattle too. We are all clearly filling a hole in how things work at the moment. This kind of group is clearly needed.
So what are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m working on some lighting, and I’m also interested in what people think is decorative, as opposed to what is useful. It seems in the last couple years there are more consumers who want to buy objects that don’t do much, but that they love. You look at photos of cool houses or something on sites like Apartment Therapy and you see these houses with tons of cool crap on the walls. And that’s just what it is, cool crap. So I kind of want to do something with that. To make that, but to make fun of that at the same time. My work always has a sense of humor. It’s often comical, or has this deeper, more poetic layer behind it.

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