Meet the Makers Leading Brooklyn’s Artisanal Boom
In her new book Brooklyn Makers, photographer Jennifer Causey documents some of the borough’s most promising artisans — from a ceramicist and a florist to a metalsmith and a tie-dyer. But this geographic concentration of creative talent is nothing new. “Brooklyn is not a place that lost touch with the art of making — just ask Martin Greenfield the tailor, Domenico DeMarco (of Di Fara Pizza) the pizzaiolo, Louise Bourgeois the sculptor, or even Spike Lee the filmmaker,” as Eric Demby writes in the foreword. “What sets us apart today is that we all create together with a collective pride in pushing forward the idea of Brooklyn blazed by the great makers before us.” Curious to meet the proud young talents who are driving the ever-expanding artisanal movement? We asked Causey to introduce us to some of the most memorable makers she met while researching her project.
Odette New York
Who: Jennifer Sarkilahti Location: Greenpoint, Dobbin Mews From: Virginia Years in Brooklyn: since 2007
Jennifer Sarkilahti describes her jewelry line, Odette New York, as “classic with a slightly bohemian touch.” Drawing from her travels (recently to Bali, Morocco, Turkey, and Greece) and the metropolis in which she lives, her work is inspired by organic and industrial shapes, primitive forms, natural specimens, and uncommon artifacts.
Who: Anne McClain Location: Greenpoint From: Rhode Island and Japan Years in Brooklyn: Since 2004
Before moving to Brooklyn, Anne McClain grew up in Rhode Island and Japan. Inspired by the creativity in the borough, she began to pursue her passion of perfumery. In 2009, she ventured to southern France to study at the Grasse Institute of Perfumery, and upon returning to Brooklyn, she started formulating and bottling her own line of fragrances under the name MCMC Fragrances.
Who: Nicolette Owen Location: Greenpoint From: New York Years in Brooklyn: since 2000
Nicolette Owen is a floral designer and owner of the flower studio Nicolette Camille. When she’s not creating arrangements for her own clients, she collaborates with fellow floral designer and friend Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua. The two also combine efforts to teach one-day floral workshops known as the Little Flower School, where they celebrate the bounty of the season and reveal techniques for selecting flowers, blending colors and textures, and building stunning centerpieces.
Kings County Distillery
Who: Colin Spoelman and David Haskell Location: Bushwick From: Colin: Kentucky; David: Connecticut Years in Brooklyn: Colin: since 2007; David: since 2004
Kings County Distillery was founded by Colin Spoelman and David Haskell in 2009. After testing some of their experimental, small-batch moonshine at a dinner party, Colin and David decided to go into business together. They began investigating what it would take to establish a legitimate distillery (making spirits at home, even for personal consumption, is a federal crime), and a year and a half later, they produced the first legally distilled whiskey in New York City since Prohibition.
Who: Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin Location: Red Hook From: Agatha: Connecticut; Erin: Illinois Years in Brooklyn: Agatha: since 2001; Erin: since 2007
Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin first met in a food-focused book club. Even before they formed their friendship, they started talking about going into business together. After a year of planning, they launched Ovenly, baking snacks and desserts that deliciously combine salty, sweet, and spicy.
Who: Shabd Simon-Alexander Location: Williamsburg From: Virginia and Maryland Years in Brooklyn: since 2001
In 2000, Shabd Simon-Alexander moved to the city to study photography at New York University. Today, Shabd is best known for her namesake clothing line, featuring beautiful color combinations and modern reinventions of tie-dye in classic designs. All of her pieces are dyed in her Williamsburg studio, which is just across the hall from her apartment.
Who: Evan and Oliver Haslegrave Location: Greenpoint From: Connecticut Years in Brooklyn: since 2001
Brothers Evan and Oliver Haslegrave grew up as third-generation builders, creating alongside their father in Connecticut. Before going into business together, Oliver worked as a literary editor in New York City and Evan as a specialized handyman. When Evan’s business began to boom, Oliver joined him. The brothers enjoy combing flea markets and salvage yards (such as Brimfield in Massachusetts, Elephant’s Trunk in Connecticut, and Build It Green in Queens) for interesting materials to reuse in the furniture and interiors they create.
Who: Clair Catillaz Location: Greenpoint From: New York Years in Brooklyn: since 2006
Clair Catillaz first became interested in ceramics when she was just twelve years old, while taking classes with her mom — and has been playing with clay ever since. For Clam Lab, Clair produces bowls, mugs, teapots, kitchen tools, and ovenware and handcrafts everything on a manual kick wheel. Using stoneware and porcelain clays, she finishes each item with hand-mixed, food-safe glazes, making pieces that can last generations.
Who: Tyler and Kari Morris Location: Williamsburg From: California Years in Brooklyn: Tyler: since 2006; Kari: since 2005
Brother-and-sister team Tyler and Kari Morris host a monthly supper club where they invite an eclectic mix of friends and strangers for good food and conversation. It was during one of these evenings that they came up with the idea of creating their own signature syrups to use in food and drink recipes. After several rounds of testing in their Brooklyn kitchen, they arrived at their first product, ginger syrup. They have since added a boiled apple cider syrup to their line, sourcing cider from an orchard in upstate New York, and a preserved lemon syrup with cardamom and pink peppercorn.
Who: Erin Considine Location: Williamsburg From: Maryland and Missouri Years in Brooklyn: since 2007
Erin Considine’s collections incorporate metalwork and weaving, which result in a rich, tactile mix of hard and soft (her current collection utilizes Kumihimo, a Japanese braiding technique). She crafts each piece with fibers such as cotton and silk, using natural dyes such as onion skins, turmeric, and hibiscus to achieve beautiful, muted colors. Most of the metal components for her designs are cast out of recycled materials or sourced from vintage dead stock.
All photos and text from Brooklyn Makers: Food, Design, Craft, and Other Scenes from the Tactile Life by Jennifer Causey published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2012.