All posts in “SAM Shop”

Textiles with a life of their own: Parekh Bugbee at SAM Shop

We are obsessed with all things Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India! Even SAM Shop is getting in on it and is bringing second-generation Indian textile designer Parekh Bugbee for an in-store trunk show on December 8. We sat down with Payal Parekh Bugbee to discuss the tradition of textiles in her family, sustainability, and spectacular colors. See these beautiful scarves in person while you chat with the designer and sip on some complimentary chai courtesy of Jaipur Chai. drop by anytime between noon and 4 pm and get a jump on holiday shopping!

SAM: How did Parekh Bugbee first start and where does the name come from?

Payal Parekh Bugbee: The initial roots of Parekh Bugbee began in 2011 when I met my husband-to-be during a work trip to Thailand. He’s a photojournalist and also does projects for global health NGOs. I didn’t know how our relationship would blossom but before long he traveled to India to formally meet my father and ask for my hand in marriage. At the time, I’d returned from living in New York City where I did undergrad studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology and had re-located to Mumbai to train under my father. Since the 1960s, my father had worked on collections made for many international designers. These were big name, well-known design houses and they put their labels on everything produced, so at the end of the day customers really wouldn’t know that the pieces were initially designed and manufactured by him. To this day he is a very humble artisan and doesn’t mind. Growing up in India, I spent many years observing his print mastery and artisan skillset. As such, I developed a real zeal for a career in textiles.

Parekh Bugbee, is a combination of my maiden and married names, the fusing of East and West cultures merged into one company. The prints and textiles we make merge traditional and evergreen Indian designs with modern and contemporary motifs.

Have you always wanted to be involved in your family’s business?

In truth, I always had a gut feeling at a very early age that I was destined to carry forward what my father had created but the mystery was what precise form it would take. As a teenager in the early 90s, my parents sent me to New York City to join my elder sister to study and pursue a career. Photography initially grabbed me passionately and I became adamant that I wanted to be a fashion photographer. These skills later proved useful to document and promote my father’s textile works and that was personally rewarding. When I returned to India after college, I worked as a photographer shooting textiles. It was an interesting journey—in India, the boy children usually inherit the duties of a families business but my father never had a male offspring, so it was natural that he wanted his daughters to understand his industry and carry it forward.

After spending one month in the office agreeing to work with him, I realized that it was connected to so many lives and it gave so much back to everyone who was involved in producing these fine textiles. I came to understand it as an ecosystem within itself from concept to completion. Most of the artisans are from different cities and villages around India. In simple terms, the work and the skills they employ make it possible for their kids to have a good education, a solid home, and modest savings for the marriage of their children. My father over the years built apartment units on the acreage around the factory so the artisans and their families could live close. A mango orchard was planted not long ago and he started a sustainable organic garden as well. To look at the whole picture is necessary to understand what goes into making these textiles.

I understand Parekh Bugbee uses organic and natural dyes. How do you get the spectacular colors?

We have a long process for drying the fabrics. My father refers to it as ‘cooking the textiles.’ After the silkscreen printing process, which is accomplished by a meticulous application of layers upon layers of color, the fabrics are run through an extremely high-temperature steam and then dried in direct sunlight for at least two days. This direct sun exposure ensures best results for fastening the color onto each textile.

Do you see changes in the way textiles are produced in India that are considering environmental implications?

Textiles in Asia are a very large and complex industry and even in India there are many approaches to this art, but in our practice, we try our best to be very environmentally conscious. Our entire factory is made out of recycled materials—floor to ceiling—and for as long as I can remember my father has been all about ‘zero wastage’ when it comes to the production line. A while back he created a sophisticated water filtration system which essentially recycles all the water used in the textile printing process to eventually be used in the vegetable gardens.

All of the scarves are so beautiful! How many do you keep for your personal collection?

These textiles have a life of their own and a story behind them. I feel that with time they will only be more valuable as most wearable textiles are now produced cheaply by machine only. These are made by hand every step of the way. That is now rare. And that is why they will retain their special nature.

Honestly, I do have a very wide range of my favorite silk scarves and shawls. I  have them tucked away in a closet and someday it will be a great honor to pass them on to my child. I really believe that these textiles are not just mere pieces of fabrics, they are textile jewels that will never go out of fashion.

Images: Courtesy of Payal Parekh Bugbee
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Appreciation Without Appropriation: Trickster Company at SAM Shop

Did you know that SAM Shop has a store on the museum’s fourth floor with objects specifically selected based on the artwork in our special exhibitions? During Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson we’re working with Native artists and companies to stock the shelves. SAM Shop buyer, Renata Tatman interviewed Native artists and the co-owners of one of these retailers: Crystal and Rico Worl are siblings and they started Trickster Company with a focus on Northwest Coast art and themes and issues in Native culture. SAM recently launched a brand new web store for SAM Shop where you can order playing cards and stickers from Trickster Company. Better yet, stop by the special exhibition store on the fourth floor when you visit Double Exposure (closing September 9!) for more products by this innovative Indigenous product design company, or check out the Trickster Company site after learning more about this dynamic duo right here!

SAM: Do you remember how old you were when you first started to work on projects together?

Crystal Worl: When we were kids we used to build little towns out of Lego. There were shops filled with tiny paper books, and clothes made out of fabric. We had a very elaborate plan. Playing and making things was the way we had fun. We were given a lot of love and nurtured by family. We were encouraged to be creative. We are really blessed to have parents that believe in our art business.

Rico Worl: Crystal was always the artist. I never considered myself an artist until I returned from college. I started to work on a brand around 2010. At that time we started to think about the concept of Trickster together.

 

Do you collaborate on most projects, or do you each come up with your own ideas and work independently?

Crystal: It depends on the project. Sometimes I’ll say to Rico, “Hey I have this project, do you want to do it with me?” I’m often juggling up to 20 different projects. Some are collaborations with our community or other artists. We try to share opportunities with each other when they come up. Often times when I have an exhibition I invite Rico to submit work.

Rico: It’s a mix. We share a lot of the designs. Other times we help take on projects the other needs help with.

How and when were you inspired to explore a more contemporary design esthetic?

Crystal: I knew I needed to practice drawing everyday, and study formline from works done by the masters. After college I had to decided to find a mentor for an apprenticeship in carving and design. Robert Davidson came to Juneau to give a lecture about formline art. One part of his lecture he said that you need to start with 10,000 hours of practice to begin. He encouraged me to write him a letter and send in my portfolio. I am now in a two-year apprenticeship with Robert. Robert’s work inspires me to learn the principals of formline, practice 10,000 hours, develop intuition, and then expand on it.

Rico: I consider myself more a student of traditional formline design. Though I must also note that I feel that formline evolves—labeling it traditional or contemporary is not accurate. We are using contemporary mediums though and placing designs in a different context. I do this to represent my own modern identity.

How did you learn about doing business and selling your designs?

Crystal: When I showed my dad what I made, he would get really excited and tell me that it was good, and that we should try to sell it. My Mom would purchase supplies for me and give me books about art. She taught me how to bead. Both of my parents wanted me to do what I loved to do and make a living doing it.

Rico: It sounded fun. I was working at Sealaska Heritage doing anthropological work. I started to learn about commerce when people wanted to buy my artwork. I read a lot about being an entrepreneur, it became a game to me.

In the Pacific Northwest most people are familiar with formline and Native design. Do you sell to other parts of the country where they may not have seen this design work before?  

Crystal: Formline is naturally pleasing to the eye. It looks good on anything and opens the door to educate people about our art and culture.

Rico: We sell around the world off our website. One of the goals of the Trickster Company is to make the art accessible and give people a chance to appreciate without appropriating. People are excited to make the connection with Native culture.

 

 

 

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SAM Shops: Take Infinity Home with You

Probably the first thing that pops to mind when you think of Yayoi Kusama is, polka-dots! And, yes, there’s plenty of those in Kusama’s work. But it’s what those polka dots represent that weaves a clear thematic thread through everything she makes. And we mean everything, including the Kusama-studio products in the SAM Shop on the 4th floor and on the ground floor. To Kusama, a polka-dot is a way toward the infinite: “Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos.” So it will come as no surprise that items produced by Kusama’s studio, from scarves to glasses cases, are covered in polka-dots. We’ve also got Kusama-inspired jewelry that makes use of this visual refrain in unique and surprising ways. Take a look at some of these items and don’t miss the SAM Shop during your visit to see Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, closing September 10!

 

Yayoi Kusama eye glass case, $16.95

Yayoi Kusama vinyl pouch, $15.95

Yayoi Kusama puzzle, $75

Red Coco neoprene bracelet, $72

Kusama Pumpkin

Kusama soft sculpture pumpkins, $250/$450

Photos: Natali Wiseman
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Whisky Stones

SAM SHOP: Great for Holiday Shopping

The goal of any holiday shopping excursion is to find something for your friends, family or significant other that is genuinely special and will surprise them. Whether it is an amusing novelty item or an exquisite hand-made mask, it is important to find a gift that will bring a smile to the receiver’s face.

Normally, I wouldn’t go to a museum shop to buy my Christmas gifts, I’ll admit, but I decided to give it a try and it was a good thing I did. I always had it in my mind that SAM SHOP sold only museum paraphernalia, a place to sell catalogues and books on the featured artists and not a place to do my holiday shopping. Instead, I landed on a shop that I immediately knew housed items that my friends and family would love. As I walked around the shop, the first thing I noticed was a common theme. Everything I looked at was unlike anything I’d seen before. It seems clichéd to say, but it is true. Many of the pieces in SAM’s Shop are actually one-of-a-kind pieces made by local artists. Most of the hats and scarves are made locally and about 85% of the jewelry artists live in the area, setting this shop apart from other stores.

After my initial walk-through, I doubled back to the three things that caught my eye. First, there were the Whisky Stones. They were next to the graffiti cocktail shakers, which are fun in their own right but the stones seemed both useful and original. I spent a semester abroad in Scotland and if there is one thing that the Scottish take pride in, it’s the quality of their whisky, so these little guys immediately caught my eye.

In short, these are stones that keep your whisky cold without diluting the taste. You can buy an entire set with tumblers included or just the stones by themselves. Personally, I thought the idea was ingenious.

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At SAM SHOP you’ll find uncommon objects, whimsical design and remarkable creations. Give unforgettable jewelry by Seattle designers or surprise with arts and crafts from around the world. You’ll find amusing toys for kids and exquisite gifts for discerning art lovers. SAM SHOPs are also located at the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Olympic Sculpture Park. Members receive a 10% discount at all SAM SHOP locations.

Attention SAM Shoppers

Just the other day a woman who moved from Seattle to Nebraska back in 2005 came into the shop for the first time since our expansion 4 ½ years ago.  Her eyes were big with wonder as she exclaimed, “It’s so BIG and BRIGHT!”  Her excitement took me back to when I saw the newly expanded shop for the first time.  It was a big and bright canvas and the possibilities were endless. And thanks to the magical skills of our buyers and creative and enthusiastic staff, the possibilities remain endless.

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