Jevon Brown is sitting in a backyard in Sacramento with a lot of possibilities to consider. The 23-year-old designer recently finished a BFA at RISD. His thesis project, a barbershop evoked by bolts of patterned fabric spilling down the walls of a gallery, a dyed-over menu of haircuts, and embellished baseball caps, recalls spaces where the designer felt supported by his community when he was growing up in Miami, he says, though a more inclusive version. "I know a lot of queer men don't feel comfortable entering barbershop spaces because they’re also very masculine and very heteronormative," he says. "I wanted to go against that and create my own barbershop that’s more inviting and welcoming—kind of queer, kind of fun, kind of surrealist."
Brown credits his support network with getting him to this early moment in his career. His mother and aunt both encouraged him to go to magnet schools for visual art from a young age, with a brief sojourn into a music program—he also plays piano and violin. He had a series of supportive teachers and landed spots at Williams College, Kenyon, and the University of Chicago before settling on RISD, the only art program to which he applied. There, he jumped around between disciplines: drawing, painting, furniture design, and finally textiles. "When I got into textiles, it was a huge culture shift," he says. "The people were different and kinder, the type of work I was making was a lot more passionate and involved."
He says the change helped him find a sense of his voice and palette. His woven wall pieces also reference Black hair culture. Taking colorful, elaborate styles as inspiration, he weaves geometric patterns, some bright, others in earthy tones, and many adorned with braids. They each contain a sense of individuality and expression. They’re as personal as a hairstyle. "Using all these different colors and patterns and these layered identities—being a Black, queer man; being a part of the Caribbean diaspora; and all these things that I'm referencing—it’s all part of the process," he says.
On a post-graduation trip to California, Brown is contemplating a move to the Bay Area, applying to residencies, thinking about clothing design—he has already done design internships at Converse and Gucci—and generally figuring out what’s next. Wherever he ends up, he says, he’ll be weaving. "It’s where I find a lot of confidence, where I’m able to have freedom to play and explore through the processes."
Read the full Q&A with Jevon Brown below.
Hometown: Miami, Florida.
Describe what you make in 140 characters... I make textile fabrics for interiors and fine art sculpture.
What’s the last thing you designed? I designed a 4-way repeat wallpaper pattern. I'm generating material for new upcoming installations and collaging new ideas for my barbershop concepts.
Do you have a daily creative ritual? I write concepts, ideas, and sketches in my journal. I also like to gather newspapers and magazines to create collages.
How do you procrastinate? I procrastinate by reading, analyzing pop culture, and just living life, as cliche as that sounds. I also love to be active and play my favorite sport, volleyball.
What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? I'd like to redesign the curtains or bathroom vanity. new combinations and secret compartments to maximize storage space for products but also make it nice and aesthetic.
Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Virgil Abloh, Frank Llyod Wright, Taliesin West Textile collection.
What skill would you most like to learn? Glassblowing.
What is your most treasured possession? My sketchbook.
What’s your earliest memory of an encounter with design? 6th Grade at the Lowe Art Museum Sseeing Christo and Jean Claude’s work for the first time.
What contemporary design trend do you despise? Textured tiles. Mix and match flooring.
Finish this statement: All design should... show how much fun you had making it.
What’s in your dream house? Natural plant room.
How can the design world be more inclusive? Allowing people from different backgrounds to share their authentic stories.
You can learn more about Jevon Brown on Instagram.
Top Image: Courtesy Jevon Brown