Monday, July 30, 2012

Inside the Home of Ashley Helvey

Textile Artist & Stylist, Ashley Helvey, invited me inside her beautiful home for a cup of tea.  I photographed her fantastic shoe collection, discussed what brought her to the Pacific Northwest, and what she never leaves the house without. 

What brought you to Seattle?
I moved here from San Francisco because my boyfriend was finishing his masters degree in computational linguistics at UW and I was excited to try living somewhere totally new.

You're a textile artist. What inspires your art? Where can we find it?

I'm inspired by processes- physically and spiritually. Felting and weaving are almost meditative in  that way. I am working on an installation at Kaleidoscope Vision at the end of this month which includes some plant hangers, ceramics, and textiles that I'm really excited about.

Besides being a textile artist you also have an incredible style blog, Hunter Gatherer(er) and have styled shoots for Kinfolk Magazine. What was it like styling a dinner party in Seattle's Smith Tower?
To be honest, looking back I feel like it was a bit contrived. There is something about "styling" shoots that it takes away the authenticity of a place, which I think is what makes spaces actually interesting. I guess I prefer to see spaces in their unaltered states. Over-styling can almost seem dishonest in a way.

What have been some of your favorite styling projects? Why? 
Probably working with Totokaelo. It's so rare to be able to work with any kind of decent merchandise in Seattle!

What's your current occupation?
I currently am an assistant stylist for Nordstrom Creative Marketing. It's always a challenge to find a balance between what you love to do and what pays your bills. I find styling to be a great outlet to meet amazing people, work with fashion, and collaborate on creative projects. Also, a  few years ago I realized that making money from from my artwork totally changed the way I worked in a way that wasn't quite as pure or productive. Realizing that took a lot of pressure off and made my work more enjoyable.

What are five things you never leave the house without?
Besides my keys, wallet, and phone: Chanel lipstick and pressed powder, my Mason Pearson hairbrush, Kiehl's Original Musk oil, and my little Canon S95.

Who are some of your favorite designers?
Maison Margiela, Jil Sander, ACNE, Celine, and Robert Clergerie for shoes.

What's on your personal soundtrack?
Always Glasser and Molly Nillson, but lately all Lil Jon's old hits...

What's your vice?
Eating out. As much as I love cooking, I love going to restaurants! Some of my favorites here in Seattle are Walrus and the Carpenter, Le Pichet, Sitka and Spruce, The Corson Building, La Bete, Spinasse, and Boat Street and Cafe Presse for brunch.

Who's someone you admire? Why?
My friend Theresa, because she's a strong, creative, entrepreneurial woman who has inspired me to dream big.

What're you looking forward to?
Visiting friends and family in San Francisco- I'm teaching a textile workshop at California College of the Arts at the end of the month and am looking forward to eating delicious food and getting my drivers license renewed.

If you could be anywhere, where would you be?
Living in a pied-a-terre in Paris with some property in the German countryside.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Welcome to Arabica Lounge

Arabica Lounge is a fantastic coffee shop located on Capitol Hill. I have been frequenting it a lot lately and there are always stylish folk to photograph not to mention the food and art inside is amazing.  The owner, Jojo Corväiá graciously welcomed me into his doors and told me a bit about the cafe, secret society, art, and music. 

Jojo Corväiá, Owner of Arabica Lounge. 

Where are you originally from?
Venezuela where I was born into a French/Italian family.

What languages do you speak?
English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Do you have a daily mantra?
I work very hard and this cafe keeps me happy. I get gratification from the people I meet everyday. I make friends and people love what I have done. 

How did you learn to cook and what inspires your cooking?
I grew up very lucky. My Dad's family was Italian, Lebanese, and French. My Aunt, Violet, was so serious in the kitchen. She taught me everything I know. She even had pigeons flown from Egypt. All of her food was always excellent. My family's home had a garden with vegetables, fruit trees, and hens. I even had a cow and I use to make cheese for myself. 

What's your favorite recipe?
Thick yogurt with olive oil, mint, and sea salt. 

Favorite summer recipe?
Watermelon & feta salad.

I heard you'll be doing dinner events at Arabica. Can you tell me a little bit about this?
Once a month I host a gathering called Arabica Secret Society. You can buy tickets on facebook if you're friends with us and there is usually around 25 people. It's a themed event and I invite a guest chef to cook and make a beautiful/intimate dinner. It lasts about 5-6 hours. We can dance and have cocktails. The next one will not be in Arabica but a forest. Whoever is invited will get a map to the destination. It will be a luscious evening with candles, wine, and champagne. 

Do you curate the shop? What inspires your art & objects?
Yes, everything in the shop are my personal belongings and aesthetic. They're all from my home. Nothing in particular inspires me it's just the way I see things. 

Where are some of the objects from?
All over. One of the vases is from a cemetery in Caracas, Venezuela. I found a globe on the street and all the furniture is my own. 

What's your most valuable possession?
My dogs. My scottie Khala and my fox terrier Domenico. I love my dogs so much. 

What's on your personal soundtrack?
A lot of music from the 14th century, middle eastern music, and Nicolas Jaar.

What's your vice?
bitter orange marmalade and dark chocolate.

If you could be anywhere, where would you be?
Right here. I love my cafe. My next vacation destination is Egypt.