Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hey, Maker! 8 Quick Questions with Colin of Paramorph

Welcome to Hey, Maker! our (sometimes) weekly feature showcasing the awesome artisans we carry at Apartment 528. Follow along for Q+As, home & studio tours, and instagram takeovers. 

This week we're getting to know Colin Deckner of Paramorph. His original, geometric designs have been transformed into shelves, tables, stools, and more. Shop Paramorph at our Chicago storefront or online at apt528.com. And don't forget to follow along as Colin takes over our instagram.


   === Paramorph Apartment Takeover on instagram

First important question, what word do you hate and why?

It’s more of a term. I absolutely hate “like­-minded.” For me it’s a pretty good tell that the person I’m talking to has no idea what they’re talking about. As soon as I hear someone talk about the desire to bring together the “like­-minded” I run, because the next thing that person asks for is free work. Even though I agree with the sentiment, I much prefer “competent” people who aren’t afraid to speak their minds and disagree.

When you're not busy working, what do you do to relax?

I eat! I work a full time job, a part time job, and Paramorph in between. Since I don’t have much time off the clock, I eat well on my lunch breaks and dinner and I eat as much as I can. I try to cook 2­ to 3 times a week, mostly pizza. The other day I made my own paneer for the first time. It’s so easy I’ll probably do it again soon. I also found a good portobello burger recipe that I’m sure to make again.

If you could learn any craft or skill in minutes, what would it be?

How to pour a leaf in a latte. I say this because I tried it every day for a year and still couldn’t do it. After a while I started posting a bunch of my fails to annoy my friends but then the captions got too real about the artist struggle.

You're an architect by trade. What led you to start Paramorph?

Paramorph started in my last year of architecture school. I have a studied architecture at CCA in San Francisco. I was in a relationship with my college sweetheart and we were building our nest, I really enjoyed building things for us. Finding a job sucks, you might have had the same experience. For every 4 jobs I applied to I’d get 1 interview. I was told those were good numbers. Most of the jobs I applied to said things like “wow this is really cool work but we just want more clean line modernism, because that’s what our clients ask for.” Hearing that so many times really drove it home that the majority of people’s tastes haven’t come around to “parametric” design yet. This is where the ethos of Paramorph comes from - the goal was to build parametric design culture from the bottom up by making small scale work that people would want in their homes.

The piece that started Paramorph - a custom bar table in his San Francisco apartment.

What was the first piece you ever designed and built? Do you still have it?

I have a small wooden box I made in elementary school. I still use it. The first thing I ever drew out then built was a really really terrible quarter pipe so me and my friends could drop in on our razor scooters. This was like 1999 or 2000. This was not the last really awful skate­ ramp I built. (HAHA!)

The lines and shapes you use in your work are so natural and organic. How do you keep coming up with new, original forms?

I created a process of branching forms, so rather than creating a drawing with dimensions, I set up parameters and let the forms play themselves out. After making enough of the shelves, I started seeing patterns emerging, so it’s not completely random. In production right now there are many products that use digital fabrication techniques to mass produce the same object over and over. This misses the point of the technology which was to allow us to customize each product to the user’s needs. Paramorph is 100% pro digital fabrication, but with an emphasis on the human element of parametric design thinking and the proper use of craft, I don’t CNC (computerized wood cutting machine) unless it is the best use of my resources.

When you're creating a table or shelf, do you often imagine it in one of the buildings you designed, or vice versa?

No never. I’m more inclined to think of how these things could fit into existing homes. I try to make things as functional as possible. I see my shelves in someone’s kitchen holding spices, or utensils with oven­ mitts or towels hung from the bars. Or maybe in the bathroom holding towels and a candle on the shelf. Or even a shelf in the bedroom next to the mirror with make­up on top and the one or two outfits you’re thinking about wearing being hung from the bars.

What's next for Paramorph in the coming year? Any new products or projects in the works?

I’m just gonna make a list:

  1. Bookcase
  2. Guitar Stands
  3. Media Console
  4. Pot­Rack
  5. Table Legs
  6. Desks
  7. More Coffee Tables


Thanks for following along, and thanks to Colin for letting us pick his brain! Head to apt528.com to shop Paramorph shelves. After that, check out our past maker features:

   >>> SHOP apt528.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hey, Maker! Home & Studio Tour with Kristin of 622 Press

Welcome to Hey, Maker! our (sometimes) weekly feature showcasing the awesome artisans we carry at Apartment 528

This week we're taking a peek inside the Bermuda home and studio of Kristin, owner & maker behind 622 press. Browse our Q+A with Kristin and follow along as she takes over our instagram.

All photos by Adrian Cunningham

"These [pictures] are from our living/dining area with a few glimpses of our kitchen and the rest of our main living area. They feature lots of decor I made (the paper flowers, concrete planters, paintings, coffee mug and hoop of course!)"

Concrete planters and paper flowers by Kristin.

"This is the guest bath and bedroom, which tends to double as a drying room for my letterpress work—that's a set of invites all over the bed!"

Kristin's hoops feature original 622 press designs. Select hoops are currently available in our Chicago storefront and coming soon online.

The guest bath.

The entrance to the 622 press studio offers a perfect view of Bess, Kristin's 134-year-old press.

Saved the best for last! This is the gorgeous view of the Ocean from the balcony.

Thanks for following along, and a super big thanks to Kristin for sharing her space with us! We'll be back soon with more tours & Q+As. Till then, don't forget to check out some of our other maker features:

   === 622 press Q+A

   >>> SHOP apt528.com

Hey, Maker! 8 Questions with Kristin of 622 press

Welcome to Hey, Maker! our (sometimes) weekly feature showcasing the awesome artisans we carry at Apartment 528. Follow along for Q+As, house and studio tours, and instagram takeovers. 

This week we're getting to know Kristin of 622 Press. When she's not making paper flowers or getting her hands dirty forming concrete decor, the multi-talented artist creates bold letterpress cards and colorful embroidered hoops out of her Bermuda studio. Shop 622 press at our Chicago storefront with select pieces available online at apt528.com in JulyBrowse our home & studio with Kristin and follow along as she takes over our instagram.


   === 622 Press Apartment Takeover on instagram
   === 622 Press home & studio tour

All photos by Adrian Cunningham

Let's start with a real thinker. If you could only watch one movie and/or TV show for the rest of your life, what would it/they be?

Is it too much of a cliche to say Sex and the City? It's either that or Bones—those are really the only shows I watch on repeat. I do get made fun of for listening to Dave Matthews Band ALL. THE. TIME! I won't ever get sick of their music, especially live shows. 

Your work is so colorful! Is your house the same? What's your favorite room and why? 

It is actually! The space around me has such an influence on my work and mood and I've always been into decor. In past homes, I've been a bit strict with myself, limiting each room to neutrals (I love grey walls!) and a pop of just one or two accent colors. Our house now has white walls and light floors, so it feels right to have a lot of color in the decor. I definitely have my favorite hues—robin's egg, chartreuse, orange, mustard, hot pink—and that just sort of naturally creates the color scheme of our home, with dark wood and navy to tamp down the crazy a little :) I love it!

It's taken me quite a while to really make this house feel like home, as moving across an ocean limits how much you can bring, and everything on-island is so expensive! The only room that was fully moved into for the first year was my studio, so of course that's my favorite! It gets so much natural light, it's really an ideal work space. But we just rearranged and got a few new things for our dining/living room area, so that's my favorite now!
You left Wisconsin and moved to Bermuda almost two years ago which means your life is basically a Beach Boys song! Is it all sunning on the beach and surfing? What was the hardest adjustment you had to make? 

I wish! Actually the first thing people usually say when I go back to Wisconsin is "You're not very tan!" Living here is pretty amazing, but it's not vacation, so I still have to work, clean the house, all that normal stuff! But I certainly can't complain—my office has an ocean view! 

There were a lot of adjustments, but I think the most difficult one for me was just getting used to the pace of life here. Things move slower, any task takes twice as long to get done, everyone is perpetually late—island time is a real thing!

You do a little of everything - letterpress, embroidery, textiles, crochet, paper flowers. Which medium is your favorite?

Letterpress and design are my first creative loves, so of course those are my favorite! The variety of mediums really keeps my creativity flowing—solutions for a digital design piece will often come while I'm printing, or if I'm having a hard time with something on the press, I take a break to embroider and come back to it later and it usually works out. 

Is there a skill you'd still like to learn?

Always! I've been practicing pointed pen calligraphy for the better part of a year, and I'm finally getting close to good enough to offer addressing services for wedding clients. I'm not sure what I'll tackle after that, but I'm always learning something new! 

I feel like having to come up with clever new sayings and designs for each greeting card would be tough. How do you keep the ideas flowing? Have you ever put a card out there and then looked back later thinking "that was so lame"? (ALL of mine would be horrible!)

Ha! That is actually the hardest part! I keep a running list of phrases I think would make good cards, and now that I've been doing this for a few years, I force myself to wait a few weeks before printing because there have definitely been some that I now think were pretty dumb! I'm also lucky to have some super funny friends who I'm always asking "Can I put that on a card?" —they always say yes, probably because they know that means free cards!

Has Bermuda, its culture, and people influenced your work over the past couple of years?

My business is still U.S.-based, so I haven't created any specifically Bermuda themed work, but I do think living here and working in a sun-filled studio has made my work brighter and more colorful. The move allowed me to take my business full time, so the biggest change has simply been in the amount of work I've been able to produce! I have more stock than I've ever had before and have been able to take on some truly awesome custom projects in the last year or so.  

What's next for 622press? What's inspiring you at the moment?

As far as letterpress work goes, the most exciting thing right now is that I switched printing plate vendors and have been working on designing several new lines! I had been holding off on a lot of new designs until I made the switch, so the last few months have been really fun. Stay tuned for lots of fresh new cards!


Thanks for following along, and thanks to Kristin for letting us pick her brain! We'll be back soon with more tours & Q+As. Till then, don't forget to check out some of our other maker features:

   >>> SHOP apt528.com

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hey, Maker! - 8 Questions with Tina of Change Soap Co.

Welcome to Hey, Maker!, our first maker feature in four years! (Almost) every week, we'll showcase one of our awesome artisans with Q+As, house and studio tours, and instagram takeovers. Our first Hey, Maker! is with Tina of Change Soap Co. The organic skincare maven makes organic soaps, scrubs, serums, and more in scents so delicious, you'll want them all! Change products can be found in our Chicago storefront, an are coming soon to apt528.com.

Follow us on instagram @apt528 to see Tina's Apartment Takeover and get a sneak peek behind-the-scenes at Change.

First question, NSync, Backstreet Boys, or 98 Degrees? It's super important!

Seriously, this is the most important question ever!!  In my middle school days, my life goal was to marry Lance Bass from N’Sync!  My aunt took me to see Janet Jackson in concert and N’Sync was the opening act, before they were very well known.  It was love at first sight, and I’m pretty sure I wore my N’Sync shirt from the concert 24/7.

What's your favorite music to throw on when you need an extra jolt of energy on long days?

My 10-years ago self would be mortified, but I’ve fallen in love with country music!  I love Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and The Band Perry.  And of course Taylor Swift, even though she’s not really country anymore.  I’m not nearly coordinated enough to know the actual line dance moves, but if nobody’s around, I’ll bust a move and make up my own dance while I’m working!  One day my four year old walked downstairs where I was working while I was wearing a full on activated charcoal face mask and making hair mists while dancing, and he walked up to me and gave me a kiss, and walked away.  He’s so used to my bad moves and face masks that he doesn’t even take a second look at me!

It's a crazy morning and you only have 5 minutes to get ready and head out the door. What's your basic 5-minute (or less!) beauty routine?

This sounds like every morning around here!  I don’t wear a lot of makeup which makes mornings quicker.  I’ll dab a couple drops of serum on my face for a little glow, throw on a little mascara, and mist Pink Sea hair mist in my hair to embrace my wavy bead-head hair.  Oh and I don’t leave home without lip balm, I’ve even been known to dab it on my cheekbones for a little extra glow!

You started making soaps to create natural alternatives for your son. What encouraged you to push it from a hobby into a business? What was the first product you made?

The first successful soap I made was super gentle with lavender essential oil and calendula petals to soothe my little guy’s skin.  It really helped him, and it’s now in my line as Relief soap.  When I made the first batch, the recipe made 20 bars of soap, so I had lots of extra!  I gave it to my family and friends to try because I wanted to make more.  They loved it and asked what else I could make, and insisted started placing orders!

I imagine finding the right scent combos and ingredient mix is a bit of trial and error. What's your biggest disaster story? 

My biggest disaster was a painful one!  I was getting ready to make a batch of soap and I was getting my ingredients together.  I went to open a new one pound bottle of lemon oil, and the lid was stuck. So, I did what any impatient girl would do, and I pulled it as hard as I could until it flew off, and lemon essential oil splashed all over my face and in my eyes!  Did you know that it takes 150 lemons to make just one ounce of lemon essential oil?  This stuff is super concentrated!  I felt my way up the stairs since I couldn’t open my eyes, and my kids were horrified because my face was bright red and splotchy.  My husband helped me flush my eyes with cold water for about 30 minutes (I later learned that apparently flushing with oil is better), and I was ok. But I’m a lot more careful when I open the bottles now!  Oh, and I remember thinking thank goodness it wasn’t peppermint oil!

For some people, making the switch from commercial to natural products can be scary. Do you have advice for those that are on the fence and thinking about making the transition? What product did you have the hardest time letting go of?

I read a pretty scary statistic that I’ll never forget: women put an average of 168 chemicals on their bodies every day, and 60% of what we put on our body is absorbed into our bloodstream within seconds!  This scared me, and made me think about what I was putting on my kids too.

For me, deodorant was by far the hardest thing for me to switch. Did you know that it’s really bad to keep our body from sweating?  Apparently sweating is our body’s way of naturally detoxing, and traditional antiperspirants contain aluminum and other nasty ingredients. I discovered Rustic Maka deodorant and have even become good friends with the founders of the company, and now even my deodorant is natural!
Pink Clay & Activated Charcoal Soap

There are outrageous amounts of serums, creams, and potions on the market but somehow, you managed to keep it narrowed down to a lineup of essentials. How did you decide what make the cut?  

Serums are what have taken the most experimenting out of my whole line!  There are SO many out there, all with a different promise of what they will do. It’s funny because I used to be terrified of getting oil anywhere near my face because I thought I’d break out, so I’d use products that stripped my face of any possible oil. Once I learned that oil actually fights oil, my whole routine changed!  Some girls collect shoes or purses, but for me it’s oil. I have a collection of oils, from rose hip to almond to argan, and I tested every possible combination to find what works best. I choose oils that balance both oily and dry skin, and that are amazing at hydrating which, in my opinion, is the key to a glowing complexion. If I’m lazy at night and I don’t put my serum on, I’ll wake up, look in the mirror and think, “wow I look old!” When your skin is properly hydrated with good, quality ingredients, you look younger and healthier! Who knew?

Packing orders. Laila is not only a guard dog, but a huge help around the studio!

You already have the perfect assortment of goods but I imagine that as a maker, you're always think up something new. What do you see happening for Change in the coming year?

I am always dreaming up new scent combinations and how I can use different ingredients!  I’m intrigued by what caffeine can do for skin and I’m playing around with a couple different recipes that incorporate caffeine.  It can help with puffiness, cellulite, and fine lines, it’s amazing! And it’s obviously a main component in my favorite food group, coffee.

Don't forget to check out Tina's Apartment Takeover on our instagram @apt528.

Aaand, we're back!

So, um, it's been awhile. My last blog post was almost two years ago. Oops! Don't worry, I have a good excuse - WE FINALLY HAVE A STOREFRONT!! 

Yep, we finally did it! For the first five years, Apartment 528 was an online shop but we dreamed of opening a brick-and-mortar location. After years of searching and not finding what we were looking for, we came across the perfect little Humboldt Park shop and fell in love. With a bit of elbow grease and help from our handy friends and family, we knocked down walls, built new ones, and got everything just as we wanted.

BEFORE: the day we got the keys to the new shop!


Since our grand opening in September 2014, a lot has happened. We've added tons of amazing makers to our roster, started selling handcrafted furniture, and switched off most of our vintage inventory to focus more on our handcrafted lineup. We also launched Crombe & Co, our own line of completely custom sofas and chairs at affordable prices. 



So what's next? Well, we're adding a new collection of high end furnishings this summer. And we're hoping to expand the storefront within the next year. We also have a few top secret business ideas in the works. And now that the storefront's up and running, we're committed to keeping the online shop, apt528.com, updated with new products and getting this blog back up and running! Look for maker interviews, house and studio tours, and features about our favorite artisans. We may even sneak in a DIY post or two! You can check out our first feature today with Change Soap Co., an awesome, all-natural skincare brand based in Michigan. 

Here's to many, many, MANY more posts. We promise!