It’s the first day of NY Now at the Javits Center, where thousands of designers will show their wares across the home, lifestyle and gift spectrum. Out of the labyrinth of products and design objects, we’re excited for one section in particular: HANDMADE Emerging Makers. Opening tomorrow in Javits North, the space features a small, handpicked group of emerging craft designers and makers, who will debut their one-of-a-kind, handcrafted lines at the show. We sat down with one of the Emerging Makers, Summer Moore of the Brooklyn-based LESH, whose colorful and intricate, hand-woven jewelry pieces immediately caught our eye.
Your background is primarily in photography and prop styling. When did you make the transition to textile and jewelry design?
I studied photography and through that I began assisting prop stylists and set designers on editorial and advertising shoots. The flexibility of being freelance allowed me to travel and work on personal projects when I wasn’t booked (which is a blessing and a curse as most freelancers know!) It was during a photography project in Peru that I first became fascinated with the local textiles, specifically antique pieces I’d seen throughout the Sacred Valley. I came back to New York and was constantly analyzing people’s fabrics wherever I went, trying to figure out how it was woven. I’d be on the subway staring at stranger’s clothes in detail. That’s when I decided to take a continuing education class at FIT to learn the basics of weaving. It was during this time that I learned my grandmother had been an avid weaver, and had one of her looms shipped to me from California. Unfortunately it’s more of an inspiration piece than a workable loom, but knowing that it’s in my heritage is motivating.
After a couple years of weaving from home, I took part in an artist residency in Cappadocia, Turkey, where I had focused time to work on designs I had been wanting to develop. It was an incredible experience, living in a small village and having a cave studio and terrace to dye materials and weave. From that point on I knew I needed a dedicated studio space back in NY, and within a month of my return I found an amazing space in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Having a studio has allowed me to be less distracted and more disciplined with my work, and I started treating it as a small business before it even was one.
What influences your designs or creative process?
Color has a huge influence on my designs; I notice interesting color combinations constantly in my studio and daily life. Most of the shapes I weave came to me inherently through experimenting, but it’s been the process of making “mistakes”, and then using those effects in an intentional way that has probably influenced my work the most. I also go to as many exhibitions as possible, and can be inspired by colors in a painting or patterns in a print, and figure out how to translate that into weaving.
Where did the name LESH come from?
My grandmother’s maiden name was Lesh. I wanted to have it connect to her, as she was a huge creative influence on me as a child. I also liked that it was short and sweet.
You established your studio about a year ago. What have been the main challenges as a young designer and entrepreneur?
Funding a small business on my own has been the most challenging, but also very rewarding. I’ve had to balance the money earned through my freelance work with supporting myself and my studio. I never had a strict timeline on what to expect, I let it grow and unfold naturally, understanding that it takes time to get established and make a profit. Weaving and working with my hands is very therapeutic, and I feel lucky to have created something I love doing that can be a source of income. It can be stressful at times, but the joy that goes into it surpasses that.