In Support Of: Monica Hofstadter of Doucement
Where are you from?
I was born in Bloomington, Indiana which is a college town but I grew up between there and Palo Alto, Ca and various cities in Northern Italy. Isn’t that weird mix?
So I moved basically every year of my childhood in a triangle between those three places. During the 90s when Silicon Valley was becoming what it is and the Midwest which is its own timeless, or not changing too much area. Indiana is rural, but Bloomington the town is a weird oasis of international culture and education because of the university.
What’s your background? How did you start designing?
My background is in design. I went to Parsons and I studied textiles and cities. After school I was planning on going to do a masters in Urban Planning, which was where my studies took me while in school. I realized that was not who I was at all and so I became a knitwear designer for a little while. I guess I don’t really see myself as a designer, I’m halfway between being a designer and I’m not really an artist either, I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m not super into industrial methods or quantities for myself, but i have this background from design school and working in knitwear which has informed how i think about making. I have a hard time creating something that doesn’t at least stem from a practical object. It’s so hard for me to make a sculpture, but it’s easier for me to make a pillow that is really unusual and maybe isn’t comfortable or standard, but at least it stems from this known form.
What lead you to start your home collection and what is your process for those pieces?
I’ve been in New York for ten years and I’ve changed apartments so many times, like ten times. And like I said before, I moved around every single year of my childhood. So I was interested in textiles as a means of creating a sense of dwelling or homeliness, somewhere. And textiles are always the basis for nomadic dwellings. I don’t think that was a conscious decision at the time, but looking back on it or when people have asked me about it, that has been a recurring theme. When I started I was looking inwards and not looking out at the world. The home is an introverted space.
The process for making the home textiles is about falling in love with a certain material and then making a small sample to see how it might be used as a textile. And then from there, seeing what should it be or what shape it would be suited to.
You tend to stick to a neutral palette, with white and silver, is there a reason why you do this?
Initially everything started as white wool and white mohair, not really white but off-white because I wanted to use un-dyed material. It stemmed from not wanting to add more color pollution. In the past people have had intricate processes for earning colors out of nature. Now that we have synthetic dyes it’s so easy to have any color. It’s not that the meaning is lost, but it’s so easy to have it. I was more interested in a kind of delicateness that you have with white or off-white that you are more aware of the atmosphere created by weather or time of day reflecting on those surfaces. And then the metallic because you gotta have some fun.
Your aesthetic is very distinguished, do you have a set of ideas or guidelines that you follow do that it translates across mediums? Or does it come naturally?
I don’t know. I do what I do and it comes out looking the same. I don’t do anything on purpose. But that’s a beautiful thing about any creative person. When I was in school in Drawing 101, we would all do the same still life of a cone and a pear and everyone’s drawing would look like them. It’s just an inherent thing that you can’t control and it’s an awesome thing about art-making. It just comes out of you.
Where do you draw inspiration?
I like going to museums, I like going to shows, I like being in nature; but I’ve found the thing that inspires me most are the essences of people around me, my close friends or family.
Have you always wanted to have a jewelry collection?
No! I never even thought of it and I feel like I’m in that Portlandia episode: she’s making jewelry now, she’s got her life on track. I never even thought of it, but I’ve noticed that I have a really specific taste in jewelry and I’ve always liked really big things. I like things with a certain kind of weight to them. So I just started, this winter, making some things for myself for fun and people were more interested in that so I thought to offer it to the world as a suggestion. But I had never thought of it before.
What made you choose plaster as a medium for your jewelry?
It’s really generic and it doesn’t require any kind of heavy equipment. Like for ceramics you need a kiln which requires insane electricity and probably rented studio time. But I think because it’s so generic, there’s something really chic about it as well.
How do you see your collection evolving?
The next step, which has emerged pretty recently, is combining the textiles with the plaster. That has happened in a few different forms with this new style (of earring), but it has also happened with dipping pieces in plaster. This little mirror that has lace dipped in plaster. So just continuing to put those two worlds together.
What is your favorite thing you’ve made thus far and why?
Ever? I normally do have a favorite. My favorite right now is either this wall hanging or this other wall hanging and I don’t know why. I just like them. They’re not anything but I’m attracted to them. Actually this (pillow above) is my favorite - this little friend!
What are you in support of?
I’m in support of everyone at least trying to be creative and experiment and put something out of their own. I think when people who don’t often make things, when they have the opportunity or encouragement to make something, I’ve noticed it excites people and a lot of people feel pretty good about it