I think I'm not too different from other designers and creative people. I've learned over the years to recognize and respect the various parts of the process, even the ones that seem unproductive on the surface, like an initial phase of procrastination by cleaning for instance. Accepting (and planning for) these parts of the process means I get to the more enjoyable and productive parts sooner and with less fuss. I think there is an incubation phase that happens all the time, more subconsciously, where I am gathering information and influences, as well as more tactile resources like reference material. Then once I finally dive into things, it all happens relatively quickly, usually because of a deadline, but also because I find I work best if I produce a lot of ideas and then have some time to step back and review it all after a day away. I have a different perspective and can see what really works and what doesn't.
What do you find inspiring?
I am most inspired by makers who create because they love to – not for a job or for money, but because they love it. Makers who have little time or resources, but still somehow manage to find the time and energy to make authentic, beautiful work. It's humbling.
When did you know you wanted to pursue design as a career?
I think the seeds were planted when I was a kid. I had high standards for things, and sometimes creating my own Barbie apartment for instance, was way better than a store-bought one. I could make it detailed and I loved the process of making bits and pieces for my dollhouse, making softies, and clothes. What I wanted didn't exist or wasn't available so I think that is ground zero for becoming a designer. Maybe I wasn't thinking career at that point, but becoming a maker was embedded then.
Image courtesy of Heidi Staples
Do you have collections or designs that you like better?
Sometimes, though I love each in their own way. Still, some are closer to my heart than others, for various reasons.
How many times do you revisit or edit designs before releasing final version?
I go through many (hundreds of) variations and color versions of things before I can select what I feel is the best grouping/options for that collection.
Hadley collection by Denyse Schmidt
What's in your toolbox?
Pencils, Muji drawing pens, paper (no lines!), Adobe Illustrator, phone camera, thread, needle, scissors, fabric; gardening spade, shovel, and dirt.
How have your experiences shaped your aesthetic/process/look?
I have had a free-ranging patchwork of experiences and influences over my 50+ years that manifest in a fairly eclectic look. I love juxtaposing old/new, and my love of vintage everything — music, textiles, quilts, objects, dance, and more — is clearly evident in my work. But I am also a product of the world I live in now, and what is going on in fashion, technology, art — all of those influences play some part in who I am and the work I make.
Tied & True Denyse Schmidt
What’s your color?
Right now I'm enjoying some deep earthy greens. I'm painting the newly restored exterior of my 1915 bungalow Moss Glen (California Paints), a slightly warm, grey green. I painted my new IKEA cabinet fronts Studio Green, a beautiful dark cool green from Farrow & Ball.
What's your favorite place?