Design

Parachute x Kat & Roger: Behind the Design + Styling Tips

Written by
Parachute Team
PHOTOGRAPHS BY
Nicki Sebastian for Parachute

Kat Hutter and Roger Lee have earned a cult following for their colorful handmade ceramics here in L.A. We approached the husband-wife team about collaborating on a line of home decor, and today we are thrilled to bring you two exclusive pieces featuring their signature geometric artwork: A Hand-painted Ceramic Mug and a bold Graphic Throw made from a cozy blend of wool and cashmere. Join us for a tour of Kat & Roger’s bright and inspiring studio in east Los Angeles – and watch how they fire off these one-of-a-kind pieces.

How did the Parachute x Kat & Roger collaboration come together? How did you approach the collaboration and design process with Parachute?

Kat Hutter:Parachute’s Creative Director, Amy Hoban, initially reached out. As fans of the brand, we were immediately interested. With any potential partnership, the first thing we do is go into research mode. We get a feel for the brand’s aesthetic and past collaborations to understand their design approach.

Working with Parachute presented a unique opportunity for me, specifically. I rely on color in my pattern design, but I knew that the pieces we’d create with Parachute would need to more monochromatic. I came up with five different sketches using the same shape but in different patterns. I was thrilled when the team at Parachute actually chose my favorite!

What makes the Kat & Roger Graphic Throw and Hand-painted Ceramic Mug unique? How are these items different from others you’ve made in the past?

Kat: I’ve always wanted to see our Kat & Roger patterns exist as textiles, and the Graphic Throw is our first foray into “soft goods.”  I think the throw’s asymmetrical and graphic pattern make it unique – plus the way it relates to mug.

Roger Lee: We chose a round form for the mug because it’s more organic. We don’t put handles on the mugs, so you can experience the physical texture of the clay.

Kat: A mug without a handle is more of an object than a utilitarian vessel. If you think about mass produced coffee mugs…sometimes they’re just a way to get the coffee into your mouth as fast as possible! There’s something much more intimate about a cup without a handle.

Kat & Roger is a collaboration in itself. What do you love about your part of creating objects together?

Roger: Being able to work with my hands is very important to me. Creating with clay allows me to be direct with my material. Working on the wheel is something I’ve fallen in love with because of the intimate quality of the process.

Kat: I’ve done a lot of paintings that stay under my bed – and occasionally go on a gallery wall – but being able to paint on something that people can take home and actually use is so fulfilling.

Describe your overall creative processes. How and when does inspiration strike?

Kat: Inspiration comes from everything. We’re inspired by all the different things we’ve done in our lives and the places we’ve lived and traveled. I think we can both agree that our current collection wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t in L.A. The pieces have both the earthiness and graphic punch that you can see and feel in this city.

How do you separate shop talk from pillow talk at home?

Roger: Being able to disconnect is a major thing for us – we know how to separate our work and our leisure life. We’ve been fortunate to travel to some incredible places, unplug and reset our lives so we can get back to our relationship as Kat and Roger.

Kat: Working together and living together can be really hard, and that’s why we prioritize taking breaks. But there isn’t that much separation between what we do and how we live. We like what we do as artists, so if we go home and talk about work, it’s not a bad thing!

What has been something surprising about working together?

Roger: Kat’s always coming up with new creations, pallets and patterns that surprise me. She’s great at keeping her thoughts moving fluidly. She’s great at sharing and responding to what I’m doing. There’s a real connection there.

Kat: Roger has the mind of an engineer. He comes up with the most inventive solutions – like a tool to make trimming easier or a heat barrier for the kiln. His systems of making production more efficient are something I admire because I’m the complete opposite! I will do something the longest and hardest way…then he’ll come over and offer one tip that cuts the time in half.

Your brand recognition has grown a lot the past few years. How do you maintain creative integrity while scaling your business?

Roger:We didn’t start off thinking of it as a brand – it’s simply a continuation of us. We work hard to preserve what we’re making and creating.

It’s important to think about what you want your legacy to be. We’ve always been in it for the long term. We want to grow while continuing to enjoy what we’re doing.

How long does a Kat & Roger piece take from start to finish? How many ceramics do you make a week?

Roger: When someone asks that question, I always say, “It’s taken me 20 years to make this piece.” Anyone can throw a two-minute mug – that doesn’t mean it will be functional. We’ve taken our time to master our crafts.

Kat: We’ve been doing this for a while now so we’re pretty quick day-to-day. Production requires a certain pace – it can’t take three hours to paint one mug! Our process is figuring out how to make things faster but without sacrificing quality.

Any tips for other creative entrepreneurs?

The biggest thing we’ve learned is when to say no to projects and how important it is to protect your artistic integrity. It’s not worth losing your voice or identity just to land a job. Those are things we think about every day.

[Ed. note: This collection is sold out.]

November 3, 2017
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