THE STORY BEHIND THE SHOES
Nestled in the far reaches of Greenpoint, Brooklyn lies the progressive Osborn Design Studio where two artists are building a business based on the creative hipness of New York and the global outreach of struggling nations.
Aaron and Carla Venticinque-Osborn are the husband and wife team behind this concept. I first met the couple in upstate New York at the Heartland retreat in Campbell Hall. Their dynamic and positive energy is evident in both their interaction with each other and others, and is also apparent in their work. They create everything from collage prints and photography to handmade fabric shoes.
Working Class sat down with Aaron to talk in more depth about their creative and community-oriented ambitions with the Osborn Design Studio.
WC: How did you guys decide to start making shoes?
AO: I was looking for a project to do with local artisans in Guatamala specifically, because that's where I was. There was a lot of help for the female community through matriarchies like co-ops which we were working with already, so I was focusing more on cobblers and tailors which were more male dominated occupations in the country. At the time they were very disenfranchised in a weird way, so I wanted to help that community and collaborate on something that would give it a boost in some way.
WC: I love that you're not just making another shoe, but also helping the community. What's the process of making a shoe?
AO: One step of the process is Carla and I picking out old fabrics from thrift stores. In Guatamala, the wives of the cobblers we work with work in a fair-trade weaving co-op, so any Guatamalan fabric we also source from them as well. We also source from our local NYC fabric vendors.
It's basically us having an idea for a new shoe, and us going to the cobbler, talking with him, letting him know what were looking for, and he'll make us a sample and we'll work out all the edits usually four or five times. We'll go back and forth until we get the solid pattern of what we want. That involves us being there a lot. Usually every other week.
WC: What excites you most about the process?
AO: The ways material can be used. Carla and I are both excited about how things can facilitate human activity, and how they relate to each other. It really interests us to see it at that basic level.
WC: So, why Guatamala?
AO: My father's side of the family has had a long history with Central and South America. They immigrated there from the states during the depression, so we have a long history of that. I went to visit my dad and got involved in his non-profit work, and fell in love with the country.
WC: How long has Osborn Design Studio been going?
AO: We started in 2007, but we really went for it and launched the projects throughout late 2008.
WC: What are your goals for your studio and work in the future?
AO: To keep building networks with the locals of Guatamala, and hopefully branch out to other parts of the world as well. The way we are doing it right now is finding out-of-work cobblers, and having them run their own business the way they want to, but making products designed by Osborn Design Studio.
Basically we want to continue doing that, but on a larger scale. We are just growing right now and eventually hoping to have every piece of our shoes and anything else we design be sourced from the local community--from shoelaces to the leather of the soles. This will directly effect the locals' economy. It's people making something from nothing, and I love that idea.
The Osborn's studio is a working environment where fine and commerical art is conceived, blended, expanded upon, and produced. Their inspiration is drawn from human relationships, the vibrancy of life within its conflict and resolve, and artisanal grit. They showcase an evolving line of products, and through the continuous collaboration with friends, economically disadvantaged artisans, creative entities, and with each other, they seek now, more than ever, to embody hope in design.
To see all the work coming out of Osborn Design Studio, click here.