Better than Santa’s workshop, here are some of the designers who crafted your gifts this season.
In this ongoing story series, we are talking to designers and brand founders about their designs and companies: how they began, what inspires them, process and artisanship, sourcing of materials and more.
After studying fashion in London for eight years, Akosua Afriyie-Kumi returned to her native Ghana to launch her woven-raffia accessories brand, Aaks, in 2014. Her goal is to pay homage to her favorite weaving techniques while creating sustainable jobs within Africa.
Launched in 2019 by designer Ama Schulman, All Very Goods creates products that celebrate Black people and their histories. Each of Schulman’s bandana designs tells a story. “I started my brand because there was a lack of well-designed, thoughtful products that spoke about Black culture," explains Schulman.
Sandy Chilewich is founder and creative director of Chilewich, a family-owned company she leads with her partner, architect Joe Sultan. In 2000, she introduced her woven-textile designs that are made in the U.S. using custom-designed bi-color yarns. Her placemats have changed how tables are set worldwide.
Ellen Van Dusen launched her brand Dusen Dusen in 2010 with a line of womenswear, and in 2015 she expanded with the introduction of towels, a bathrobe, a tissue box and a trash bin. The designs are characterized by vibrant colors and stripes, inspired by fine art and Van Dusen’s research into how our brains react to color.
Headquartered in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Haricot Vert was founded by designer Kelsey Armstrong, where she and her team handcraft their collage-inspired jewelry. It all began when Armstrong took a mixed media and collage class at university in France, where she became fascinated with Robert Rauschenberg and the medium’s accessible form. A few years later, that fascination persisted as Armstrong moved from France to New York and decided to start experimenting with collage as a form of jewelry-making.
Jag Nagra is a queer visual artist who is passionate about ending the stigma against LGBTQ+ people within the South Asian community. She focuses her art practice on concepts that depict a sense of confidence and fearlessness.
Founded in 2017 by designer Colin Keane Lynch, Keane specializes in wearable works of art that are handmade in Brooklyn. An accomplished glass sculptor, Lynch was trained in traditional glassblowing in Venice, Italy.
Founded in 2016 by designer Jameel Mohammed, Khiry is a NYC-based Afrofuturist luxury jewelry brand. “My designs are the result of a research process on what the future will look like for Black people, and the world more broadly. The individual pieces are inspired by ideas or icons that stick with me throughout my process.”
Hailing from Bangkok, Thailand, Panisa studied industrial design at Chulalongkorn University. Her design aesthetic has been influenced by growing up in her family’s toy business. She later moved to NYC and graduated with an MFA in The School of Visual Art’s Products of Design program, where she collaborated with MoMA on designs and continues to design products for our store today.
Founded by the mother-daughter team of Teta and Maya Gorgoni, Royal Jelly Harlem produces African-inspired home designs. They draw inspiration from the artistry of printed fabrics, which they have discovered and researched during numerous trips to Africa.
This Korea-based studio was founded by Soojeong Shin and Jiseon Park, two designers who majored in floral design, landscaping and interior design. For Style Jieum, Shin and Park create designs that allow people to coexist with flowers and plants on a daily basis. “Korea is a beautiful country with four seasons,” Shin notes. “We choose the materials for each of our designs based on how we want to cherish these changing seasons.”
Born in 1970 in Fukuoka, Japan, Takao Inoue was involved in the fields of cinema and advertising in the 1990s. In the 2000s, he embarked on his career as an artist and began his series of embedding dandelions inside of acrylic.
Based in Queens, NY, Yam is a handmade jewelry brand founded by designer Morgan Thomas. This Black-owned, women-operated brand produces designs that combine deadstock materials with vintage silhouettes.