Interview with Craft+Folk Founder Michael Kolodeshinterviews
Part online shop, part design blog, Michael Kolodesh created craft+folk as an online destination where both sides are treated with equal respect (and excitement). “craft+folk was born out of a passion for architecture,” Kolodesh told us. That passion manifests itself in the type of items he features from various makers whose goods he sells. He also highlights makers, craftspeople, woodworkers, artisans, and designers for week-long features on Instagram, which makes sense given that he often discovers talents he loves through Instagram. We chatted with Michael to get his take on everything from how he discovers new talents to tips for buying furniture.
What made you start craft+folk?
Working in architecture, I realized that product design is a form of architecture on a smaller, more manageable scale. Many architects are revered as much for their furniture as for their buildings. I started to research woodworkers and makers. Studios like Palo Samko, Bellboy and Studio Dunn were first to surface. My interests were cemented when I landed a position at an architecture firm that held similar values. At the firm I was introduced to many new makers, so I wanted to document and share my experiences while reconciling my own design sensibilities. Using Instagram, it was easy to keep track of various designers and aesthetics while sharing with friends and others in the community.
How do you choose the items you feature in your shop?
Many of the makers I feature, I have followed and admired for a long time, such as the ones I mentioned above. Others, I have come across in one way or another; mostly at events, exhibitions and through friends or work. Others I come across on Instagram. The first draw is always a visceral reaction. If I get stopped in my tracks by their work, I will investigate further. If I then see a compelling story, I decide to run a feature. I am always drawn by those who pursue their passions and build their dreams from the ground up. I find a certain kinship and familiarity with many of the stories these folks have to tell. This is what inspires me. I have learned that if I am obsessed with something, there is likely a community out there who shares my passions. This is what makes platforms like Instagram so great, we can find each other.
What’s the best part of your work?
The most rewarding element of running craft+folk is connecting with like-minded people. I think this is what gets my motor going. Exploring various kinds of design and better understanding what makes them special or interesting. Pursuing my various passions, ideas, thoughts and encouraging others to do the same. Surrounding myself with good design and interesting ideas on a daily basis is rewarding in itself.
What’s the most challenging part of your work?
Challenging myself to think about design in unique, meticulous and thoughtful ways. It is difficult to fight against the expediency of daily life. I like to be considerate about every element of what I do. I think this is what makes people like Steve Jobs so revered. The obsession over every element. It’s hard to achieve in today’s world but I’d like to try. As craft+folk evolves, I also challenge myself to think about how the design envelope can continue to be pushed while being socially responsible and globally beneficial. How can great design affect everyone, not just a select few.
What inspires you creatively?
Travel and architecture. Whether exploring my own city or adventuring across the world, having novel experiences is what gets my mind going. From food to culture to the built environment, or just looking at something with a fresh perspective. And there’s nothing like the poetry of incredible architecture to move the spirit. I seek that out as much as possible, even making architectural pilgrimages which others might consider out of the way. For example, when I was in Phoenix, I took a 40 minute cab to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West and the experience was transcending. In New York, my favorite hideaway is Roosevelt Island and Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park. This summer I’m hoping to visit Baku to pay homage to one of my favorite Zaha Hadid’s buildings, the Heydar Aliyev Centre.
Do you have any tips for buying quality, investment furniture pieces?
Get to know the piece of furniture. Understand its history and the person who made it. Why he or she made it and the decisions that went into making it. Where was the material sourced from? How was it treated/transformed? What details were considered? If we look around us, the best designed objects seem to have the greatest history and consideration. Get to know the maker, visit his or her studio and make the furniture part of your story. This is what makes design special. One thing I have learned is that seeing something online is no substitute for seeing it in person. The experience can be truly breathtaking.
Tree Trunk Tables
“I have been fascinated with the work of Kieran Kinsela lately. He crafts whimsical but functional pieces from trunks of fallen trees in Upstate New York.”
Momo Wool Blankets
“As far as textiles go, I’m a fan of Chicago based designers Maya Mueble. They work with artisans in South America to get these made, helping folks in small towns keep their long-standing craft traditions alive today.”
Modern Table & Chairs
“I also admire the concept and aesthetic behind British makers Feist Forest. The chairs pictured are by Solidwool Studio. I have yet to feature them, but they are one of the makers I am eager to cover.”
“I also love the double-tone bloak ladder. A nice way to display certain items, particularly soft goods and textiles. Great to have in the bathroom, bedroom or perhaps in a kitchen or living space if the fit/purpose is right.”
“Though a bit on the pricey side, I have been enamored by this leather rucksack from Opelika, AL based Loyal Stricklin for some time. I always try to incorporate items that will encourage people to get out and explore as much as items that will elevate their home life.”