Reposted from Lisa Davenport Designs November 19, 2016
During our recent trip to the High Point Market, Kathleen and I stumbled upon the Kinzig Design team. I found unique lampshades, exquisite sparkling glass bases, and exclusive radiating design elements I hadn’t really found in my travels before. We met Susan and Caryn, two very personable and talented women with a great story!
Caryn recently took the time to sit down with me and share their story. I was impressed, and I know you will be too!
LD: Caryn, I had the pleasure of meeting both you and Susan at Market. I know from my conversation with the both of you that you essentially work on opposite coasts. Now, that must pose a challenge or two along the way! Can you explain how you make it work?
CK: It is certainly a challenge to be on opposite coasts. We design new lamps together and then Susie focuses on finding the perfect glass color and design for the base while I work with the fabrics and the design of the shade. Because the new lamps sometimes come together at the last minute before a show, we don’t see it completely put together until we arrive at Market. Often, the finished lamp is not exactly what we each had expected. We need to tweak sizes, colors, etc. As perfectionists, in the early years we were very distraught when a new lamp wasn’t exactly right. Now, we can explain our vision and rework the sample until it is right before it goes out to the customers. Our buyers know the quality of our lamps and have confidence that we will work out those details.
LD: Perfectionists, I can understand that! Do you have any favorite pieces you’ve created?
CK: Our favorite lamps have our signature shades, usually a bit asymmetric or offbeat. The original lamps like this were Alexandra, Isabella and a few others with the same, unique, slanted shade. Those have continued to be some of our best sellers; and we now have smaller versions such as Irene, and larger floor lamp versions such as Alessandro.
LD: I do love the asymmetric lamp shades. Not to mention the unique pairing of the fabrics! Your talents shine! What ‘formal’ training, if any, do you and Susan have?
CK: Susie is really the talented designer. She studied graphic design in college and has really had a love for art her whole life. She even took some glass blowing at college although we use outside glass blowers for the glass for the lamps). She worked for a design firm when she graduated from college but left that to start her jewelry line. We started Kinzig Design Home in 2003. While we are all influenced by things around us – shapes, colors, objects, nature – Susie can create unique designs. I have a background in business and my talent is more related to being able to enhance designs. For me, it comes from a love of art versus any formal training.
LD: Well, that leads me to your personal lives – who are Caryn & Susan? Can we have a glimpse of who these amazing women are that are behind these lamps and this art?
CK: Our personal life – Susie is my sister-in-law. I have known her for nearly 40 years. We are a close family, albeit 3,000 miles apart. Susie and her husband Freddy have a very active life in San Francisco – she has many soccer friends and she is a surrogate mom to anyone who comes through the area. Since San Francisco is such a great city and has so many opportunities, there are always people staying at Susie’s for short and extended periods. My oldest daughter, the original Alexandra, moved to San Francisco a few years ago, and has become the daughter Susie never had since she had two sons. My husband Jim (Susie’s brother) and I live just outside of Philadelphia. We are both active in other ways. I love art, theater, movies and travel. I worked in finance for the first 20 years of my career until Susie and I decided to start Kinzig Design Home. It was a significant change for me, a new challenge. I enjoy the challenges that come with this business.
LD: I find quotes very inspiring … they are tacked up all over my studio. Do you have a favorite quote?
CK: We always liked a quote that we believe came from St. Francis of Assisi:
“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
LD: I love that … my mom is a fine artist; she has always loved that quote too!
LD: Your passion and love for your work is easy to see … is this it? What’s next?
CK: We always go to the trade shows and watch as other companies seem to grow and evolve in different ways. Some of them are successful and others come and go. We have generally decided that we love what we do and need to stick to what we do best. We keep trying to do it better, keeping design in the forefront. We find materials that we love and design lamps around them. We are all about design, color, quality of our materials and craftsmanship. That won’t change.
LD: Well, in the words of Marc Jacobs … “Let’s do what we love, and do a lot of it!” Thanks so much for taking time to do this interview Caryn. The entire LDD team looks forward to sharing your work with our clients and followers!
Lisa Davenport Designs
Headquarters 6 Main Street, Unit F, Durham, CT 06422 860.316.5718 Bonita Springs, FL 239.302.7392 | lisadavenportdesigns.com