Some people wake up and brew a cup of coffee to get their day started. Artist Llane Alexis does a headstand. The inversion reflects his distinctive approach to design, which takes waste and turns it into something useful.
Alexis began his artistic career in 1997 as a painter in Havana and went on to make a name for himself designing handbags and other accessories. But in his latest chapter, he has begun making furnishings and other objects for the home that mesh painting, sculpture, and personal history—like braided baskets made from salvaged materials.
"I like to use things that are discarded and work with natural fabrics like denim, cotton, and silk," he says. "I love color blocking and playing randomly with my fabrics." That approach and his signature braiding style draw from the handcraft traditions of his hometown, where people would get creative with whatever resources were available. Alexis is now taking that intelligence to the design world through collaborations with California brands like Dosa and Heath Ceramics.
Read the Q&A with Alexis below.
Hometown: San Francisco, California
Describe what you make in 140 characters. I transform off-cut fabric scraps into bags, accessories, and larger-scale home goods such as baskets and furniture objects.
What's the last thing you designed? I created a collection of braided and hand-stitched, painted fabric baskets and doorstops for Nickey Kehoe in Los Angeles.
Do you have a daily creative ritual? A headstand first thing in the morning.
How do you procrastinate? I don’t have time to procrastinate.
Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Nature. Everybody copies her.
What skill would you most like to learn? I’m curious about filmmaking and sound design.
What is your most treasured possession? My tools: my scissors, my thread, my needle, my thimble.
What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? As a kid growing up in Havana, Cuba, playing baseball was practically mandatory. I hated the sport and still do. But the hand-stitched mitts and baseballs were so beautifully made and are of heirloom quality.
What contemporary design trend do you despise? I don’t despise the trends as much as the followers.
Finish this statement: All design should...inspire and be accessible.
What's in your dream house? A black-bottom pool and an edible garden.
How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? There should be no excuse for unsustainable design.
How can the design world be more inclusive? Let’s dismantle, abolish, and restructure to start.
What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? The labor involved in handcraft.
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