Textile artist and designer Shabd Simon-Alexander has lived in this airy Williamsburg, Brooklyn loft for the past five years and has had a studio in the same building for six years. Since Shabd is surrounded by so much color in her professional life, she tries to make her home a reprieve, by choosing furniture with clean lines and modern features: white, wood, chrome and glass. By the looks of her plant and textile-filled home, it appears she can’t completely extricate herself from her love of color. Those modern, minimal aspects of her home are just a quiet backdrop to the riot of plants and colorful textiles and ceramics that are layered throughout the home. In addition to being a textile artist and designer, she is also an author and educator. Her clothing line, Shabd, is produced locally in New York City’s garment district and her fabrics are dyed by hand in her Brooklyn studio. Her first book, Tie-Dye: Dye It, Wear It, Share It was released last June. Thank you Shabd, and special thanks to Paul Barbera from Where They Create and Emily Johnston for the lovely photos! –Shannon
Image above: We made the lamp using a DIY tutorial from the amazing lighting designer Lindsey Adelman. I think it’s so great that she shares her designs with people, and it’s how I feel about sharing my knowledge about dyeing in my workshops, tutorials and in my new book. (Tie-Dye: Dye It, Wear It, Share It, published by Random House/Potter Craft).
See more of this Brooklyn loft after the jump…
Image above: I got this woolly weaving from a Navajo weaver on a reservation in New Mexico. He makes one a year, with his mother, and it’s equally stunning on the back. This particular weaving was made of undyed wool, but he also had more traditional colorful rugs as well, and we geeked out about dyeing for a while – he had recently been testing out kool-aid dyeing and was loving the neon results.
Image above: I used to think I had a brown thumb until we moved into our loft. Now we have a jungle – we just added 4 new trees and 5 new plants that we rescued from the artist Hanna Eshel’s loft when she moved out after 35 years. Too bad Paul came over to photograph just before that!
Image above: Around the time I started dyeing fabric , I was also doing ceramics – and there was a lot of crossover in the way I was applying color. I made this pedestal to hold a matching sculpture for a gallery show in 2009 – I think it’s important to blur the boundaries between art, craft, design and display.
Image above: We bought this chair, the woven Wegner chair in the living room, and an amazing ceramic mid-century desk lamp from a couple on Craigslist. They had been scouring yard sales in New Jersey for furniture for a mid-century modern house they thought they were going to buy, but in the end they bought a condo instead. The furniture didn’t fit in so they sold it all off cheap, and since all of the buyers ended up being in Brooklyn they rented a van and delivered it all in person, it was so sweet.
Image above: More ceramics. I found this pineapple piggy bank in Mexico for $1 and got the strawberry to go with it from the ceramicist Helen Levi. The misshapen ball next to it is one of mine, and the marble egg was a gift from a friend for dyeing all of the linens for her wedding.
Image above: These bookshelves were built by the guy who lived in the loft before us. They’re actually really oddly shaped and sized (some cubbies are deeper or wider or taller than others) but that only adds to the charm.
Image above: My dad and brother made the bed for me and my boyfriend when we moved in together. On it are some pillows from my collection, and a pillow I made in collaboration with the artist JoJo Li – it buttons together in different configurations.
Image above: These blankets get pulled out in the colder months to cover the bed and sofa and make everything a bit cozier. Some I collected from travels, but most were gifts from my aunts in Greece – they were all dowry blankets that they made for their own marriages when they were young. The striped one was a family effort – the wool came from the family sheep, was carded and spun by my great-grandmother, dyed with natural and synthetic dyes by my grandmother, and woven by my aunt when she was 17. There were two, as a set, and she gave my mom the matching one.
Image above: More pillows from my collection.
Image above: The vase on the left is another Helen Levi, the white ceramics are all sculptures that I made, and green vase and the cat (I call him Uncle Gato) are from an amazing ceramicist I met in Mexico City – I had to buy a new suitcase to bring home all the stuff i got from him.
Image above: My parents found this tool bench on the street in their neighborhood in pretty bad shape. The butcher block was bowed, so my dad put it upside down on their lawn overnight – the morning dew moistened the wood from the bottom and the rising sun dried and pulled it up from the top and it straightened right out.
Image above: Some inspiration in the studio – Sonia Delaunay’s coat & car designs, balkan felted capes, a studio shot by the artist Paul Sepuya (he’s the best, I try to work with him any time I get the opportunity), an embroidery swatch that I made, and boris old and young, who I found on the street in Berlin 2003 and has come with me everywhere I’ve moved since then.
Image above: A corner of my studio. We’re lucky enough to have found an old factory loft – half of it is our apartment, and the other half is used as shared art studios – me and my boyfriend and a couple of other friends each have studios in there and it makes for an inspirational workspace.