A Justification of Wicker

As the Summer draws to a close and Libra season rushes in like a crisp breeze (but seriously, the crisp breezes are coming, right?), I thought I should take this opportunity to talk about wicker. It seems that all of the sudden, wicker is everywhere - or has it always been there? Beautiful and impractical basket purses, light fixtures that persist even after the weather has cooled, and of course furniture.

Technically and adorably, Merriam-Webster tells us that wicker refers specifically to "a small, pliant twig." This means that wicker is anything made out of woven wood. And if you needed proof that it existed long before your grandmother put it in her garden, look no further than the ancient Egyptians. Apartment Therapy published a Quick History of wicker furniture back in 2012 from which I learned that Tutankhamen was buried with a wicker chair seat, headboard and stool. And if it’s good enough for King Tut, it’s good enough for me, you know?

Wicker was also good enough for the Ancient Romans, and for the French, as I learned in August’s issue of The World of Interiors. The cover article describes an incredible home in a small town in the south of France, where at least 400 wicker-makers once took advantage of the favorable irrigation situation provided by the Rhone. The industry collapsed in the 1980s, but the owners of this home recently did their part to revitalize it by founding their own studio, employing both local craftspeople and world-renowned designers. They called their studio Atelier Vime, a word with roots that refer to soaked, flexible wood.

So, wicker was never really gone because it’s literally always been here, but now it’s back in a big way and has crawled out of the dated backyard and into just about every genre of modern design you can imagine. Just last year, I found myself in an entirely wicker bathroom. Almost without realizing it, I now have a wicker pendant light hanging in my dining room (with no intention of switching it out in the winter, thank you very much, because YOLO). It’s in our studio. In restaurants, shops and hotels. It’s in images old and new - spanning decades and lifestyles and cultures and gently prodding us to ask, “Just when was this photo taken anyway?"

The recent resurgence of wicker was not sudden, but steadily built momentum, like a fire catching. My hypothesis is that this is a byproduct of our collective consciousness turning - toward something more polished, more livable, and perhaps more familiar. We are not ready to give up entirely on the earthy neutrals, bright whites and organic fabrics of California casual, but we want to merge that with something deeper: longer histories, more vibrant colors, richer textures, the ornate in place of the rustic. 

And this inclination is not new. In a 1917 essay entitled “A Justification of Wicker” published in The Art World, Vol. 2, author Walter A. Dyer writes, “…we continually hark back to the period styles when we desire something substantial and sure.” 

Though Dyer’s essay actually goes on to defend wicker as a hot new trend worth exploring in 1917 (turns out his prediction caught on!), I agree with this sentiment nonetheless. Maybe it’s the seasons changing or the political climate or the actual climate - I’m not sure. But I do know I feel myself turning toward steadiness and the sureness of small, pliant twigs.

- Stephanie

Farm snapshots

After we wrapped up the Cove House project last summer, we were so happy to be asked to work on two more beautiful spaces on Martha’s Vineyard by dream team Maryann Thompson Architects. We were able to add some beautiful details - naturals plasters, custom quilts and furniture, pieces by some incredible designers, and some wild and luxurious upholstery.

We will be getting professional photographs taken soon, but here’s a little sneak peak in the meantime!

HOLIDAY SHOP! Nov 30-Dec 3 2017

We are super excited to be curating another holiday shop at the Center for Craft in Asheville again this year! The opening night is Thursday, Nov 30 from 6-10pm - music, drinks, food, people, all the good stuff. It continues from Dec. 1-3 from 10-6pm, and then will move to online for all of you non-Asheville residents from Dec. 6-10th. Let's hang out!
MORE INFO AT www.cccdnow.org/holidayshop

Designer list after image!




Last summer while we were in Vermont I drove an hour and a half north to Montreal to visit some friends while Rob taught. I'd only been to Montreal once when I was on tour with a friend's band - it was for just a night and in the middle of January, so it felt like it was time to see it with fresh eyes.

One of my favorite landmarks was Habitat 76 - the epic Brutalist housing compound designed by Israeli/Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. This is an interesting example of Brutalist architecture. Brutalist architecture can feel somber to most - as it should - some say that Brutalism was a response to the lighter attitudes of earlier architects. At its best, I see some of the geometries in the structures as playful. 

In honor of Brutalism, here are a few of my serious (and playful) favorites. (Links on our Pinterest page)

- Karie

Objects of Unknown Origin

As you might already know Rob and I are the main frame of Shelter. We started the studio nearly 7 years ago, when we met in Vermont as interns at Yestermorrow Design/Build School. We knew within a few weeks of meeting each other that we wanted to collaborate on everything together - life, work, love, adventure, all of it. I hope you have the pleasure of spending time with Rob at some point - he has the most interesting mind and heart I've had the pleasure to know. This week he digs into textiles from the area that is now the country of Benin in West Africa. More on our Pinterest page. Thank you Rob!

Throughout my childhood there hung a cryptic appliquéd tapestry. Down through the years it moved from childhood home to bedroom to dorm room to apartment and finally here to our studio. A vibrant piece of crude but resonant colors and shapes that to me were completely devoid of meaning. The passing eye catches the bright reds and images of a fish but slowing down stops upon a dismembered leg and a man being hung. A stirring iconography that five years ago I finally found the meaning of. 

Although the piece that hangs on our studio wall is something made for the tourist trade, the technique and imagery is of royal decent; particularly that of the kings of Dahomey in what is now Benin. A complicated past of power consolidation, international trade, slavery, and vodun (voodoo) surrounds this particular piece. Each symbol is a pictogram representing a particular monarch in the nearly 300 year rule of the kings of Dahomey from the 1600's to 1900.

Living with objects from cultures outside of ones own can be complicated. What's sacred to some is rendered cute to others. I've always felt a bit of fear and fascination for this piece though. Vibrant color and bold forms only seem to enhance an iconography of strength and even brutality. I take it as an interesting lesson in the the way the essentials of color and shape inherently have their own power that no amount of cultural appropriation or lost context can deny. 

Annabelle Selldorf Architecture

What's that you say, we found ANOTHER amazing woman / designer to work with us here in the studio? It's true y'all, last November we were lucky enough to meet and hire Cyd Jaggers. Our sweet friend Jessica Green from A Little Weather was co-teaching a weaving concentration at Penland School of Crafts with Rachel Meginnes from Plain Weave Studios, and Cyd was in the that dreamy class. Jess knew she'd be the right match. Cyd also has a background in architecture (she's worked for some dreamy designers, including Marlon Blackwell Architects and Eskew + Dumez + Ripple). You can see how we might get along super well.

This week she's introducing us to one of her favorite architects, Annabelle Selldorf. Each week one of us here in the studio will be posting about something related to design, art, craft or music that we're feeling. We're pretty into this one. Thank you Cyd! (More on Pinterest!)

I’m so excited to be heading to New York in a couple weeks to visit friends. My typical routine when traveling is to make a map of the architecture I’d like to see, and then spend my days walking from one building to another. It’s admittedly very nerdy, but a nice way to create a loose itinerary for myself. At the top of my list for this trip are the David Zwirner Gallery and Neue Galerie, both by Annabelle Selldorf Architects. Selldorf’s style is beautifully restrained and quiet. She is adept at more subtle architectural practices, as opposed to the bold form-making that is currently so prevalent. Below are a few images from the two buildings. 

Visual meditations

Our last post way back in September was a call to hire some incredible designer, and we found her! 

Laura Evans is a designer at our growing little studio, and also the owner of OUTRA Textiles, the gorgeous line of hand painted home goods. She brings so many years of Landscape Architecture experience, as well as a deep understanding of how objects and color go together in space. Plus the ability to make me laugh until I cry on the regular. This week on the blog she is taking a look at meditation spaces, with a few words to start it off. For sources and endless space inspiration, visit our Pinterest page. Thank you Laura!  

This summer, I was slipping into being one of those doofuses who brags about their regular meditation practice. I've fallen off over the last few months and think regularly about how much it helped me navigate through the world's weirdness and how I should start the habit back up. While that daily guilt hasn't yet motivated me to start meditating again, it has motivated me to look around the internet for beautiful spots where one might meditate. To borrow a classic line, maybe it's an 'if you build it, they will come' kind of thing. Who knows but I feel like I'm gaining some inner peace just from looking at these places.  - Laura



Shelter is hiring!

Our design firm is growing! Shelter, an emerging Asheville-based interdisciplinary design firm, is seeking temporary, part-time assistance in our West Asheville studio with the opportunity to have a regular part time position. 10-15 hours per week, 4-8 weeks (plus), flexible hours, hourly rate. We offer a friendly, relaxed working environment. Candidate must be comfortable working as part of team with open communication and collaboration.

The ideal candidate must be reliable, flexible, organized, and interested in design. Must be proficient in CAD and Google Sketch up with a background in spatial or object design.

Tasks include:

+ CAD and Google Sketch up modeling for architectural and furniture projects.

+ Research for various projects.

+ General office tasks.

Qualifications include:

+ Confident modeling using CAD and Google Sketch Up.

+ Work experience in design-based company or discipline.

+ Ability to organize and juggle multiple tasks accurately.

+ Adept in word processing and spreadsheet software, internet navigation, email.

+ Ability to work both independently and part of a team. Must be friendly and emotionally balanced.

For hourly rate information, please contact Karie at karie@shelterprotectsyou.com
Please send cover letter + resume to karie@shelterprotectsyou.com

Site seen

It's been years since Rob and I started Shelter together (about 6 at this point!) and we've finally integrated our art/work practices into one beautifully running machine. We thought this special occasion deserved a new website (and a giveaway - see below!) We have redesigned the way you see our past and current design projects so that they are all grouped together, and soon you will be able to click on each photo and see a whole series (soon though, not all of them are finished!) We're allowing ourselves to treat the site like we do our studio and our lives - nothing is too precious, all is playful and always changing. 

So now what you're REALLY here for :
To enter to win this gorg Soleri Tote ($298), please leave a comment on this post telling us to what epic location in the world you would take this bag! This winner will be chosen on May 14th at noon EST. This is open to both US and International residents, but International winners will have to pay shipping. Please share with your buds! Good luck! 

+ For an added entry, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and leave a comment letting us know! + 

Make Noise

We have been crazy about the work of buddies and local business Make Noise for years, so we were pretty excited when they asked us to design their display furniture for NAMM in Los Angeles (that's the National Association of Music Merchants to the layperson like me). They make analog synthesizers that transcend all planes of consciousness. We've been obsessed with this recording of Nine Inch Nails member Alessandro Cortini using one of their instruments at a venue here in Asheville. You're welcome. 


WantedDesign Brooklyn - this May!

We are freaking out over here that Made in WNC was picked by the sweet folks over at WantedDesign Brooklyn to exhibit at this year's show. WantedDesign is a platform dedicated to promoting design and fostering the international creative community at large throughout the year. They have been constant and staunch supporters of U.S. and international design via events, conversations, and partners and its yearly programming aims to nurture New York City’s design dialogue. More here. Come visit us May 7-17 2016 at Industry City in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn. 

- Karie

  Photos by  Jennifer Cole

Photos by Jennifer Cole

JB Blunk

"I began making wood sculpture in 1962. I knew how to use a chain saw and it was one of those things. One day you just start".
- JB Blunk

Made in WNC / Exhibition Design

Rob and I had the pleasure of designing and building the exhibition for the most recent show, Made in WNC, at the Center for Craft Creativity and Design. We really enjoyed being invited by the CCCD to do the exhibition design for the show because of the way it aligned different elements of our practice into one trajectory. As individuals with fine art, craft, architectural, and retail backgrounds it was really fertile territory.

Because of the nature of the show and the nature of the objects in the space, we approached it from a place that mixed retail design with gallery severity. We wanted to create a design that was immersive to the viewer but didn't put itself before the individual artists. We also wanted to isolate each object and allow that which would typically be valued only for its functional or commercial nature be views as part of a much larger and important story about makers in the area. 

Conceptually we landed the shipping container, the closest analog in manufacturing to the white gallery plinth, as our main organizing principal. Just as the white plinth can transubstantiate matter into art, the shipping container turns craft into the serialized artifact of commerce. This concept of container manifested in the show as four 6’x8’x10’ rectangular forms. The forms were developed using a system of whitewashed pine stock simply fastened together in varying orientations. This system was used to create a complex series of planes, screens, walls and shelves. Using this organizational logic we developed as much complexity within the rectangular forms as needed to house each individual artist uniquely. 

The containers were scaled in a way to work proportionally with the space as well as force the viewer to have to physically meander through the whole exhibit to see it all. By integrating the design of the exhibit with the objects themselves we sought to create a whole that was greater then the sum of its parts. Retail spaces are excellent at implementing that logic to fuse identity with desire. We used that logic to fuse identity with education.    

What is happening in western North Carolina and elsewhere with modern craft and commerce is the story of a larger moment in culture and we were happy to be involved with the telling of a small piece of that. 

These shots were snapped during the construction and styling process - professional photos to come. 


Work showcased includes SHELTER, Fehlo, A Little Weather, Iron & Ash, East Fork Pottery, Outra Textiles, Melissa Weiss Pottery, Blue Ridge Chair Company, Sketchbook Crafts, Element Clay Studio, Raleigh Denim, Billy Belts, Tsuga, Lightheart Tents, Appalatch, Mudtools, Hudson's Hill, Overlap Sewing Studio, Bow + Arrow Apparel, and Circle A Brand. 


Our plants might hate us, but it's for a worthy cause! Take 20% off your entire order using code EQUINOX now through this Sunday, March 29th at midnight EST.

pre-spring peek : The Soleri Collection

The SOLERI collection. Coastal drifting, river meandering, island hopping, passport ready. Running free, bare feet, open heart.

The SOLERI dress - your dream dress for so many occasions. Throw on leggings and Grecian sandals in the spring, go barelegged and barefoot in the summers, and add a blazer and skinny jeans for going out for a drink with a friend. Made from an easy to wear cotton that has the feel of linen without the wrinkles. Hand dyed. Fits most sizes as a dress or tunic. Feel it age with you - your new go-to dress.

The SOLERI bag - for your beach gear, a picnic with your sweetheart, or a stroll through a Parisian farmers market. Removable leather handle for easy washing - unless you like sand at the bottom of all of your bags like we do. 

Photography Nicole McConville   / Model Lena Eastes / Jewelry M.Grace / Styling Karie Reinertson

A community supported wedding

When Rob and I got engaged, we faced the question that most couples face when they decide to make a big commitment to each other - do we throw a big party to celebrate with everyone we love, or say f it and sit on a beach in Belize sipping pina coladas and call it a day? We had talked a lot about WHY we wanted to get married to each other, what it meant to us, what our intentions were, but we knew that the actual event surrounding the day of our marriage was a whole different story.

I never thought I would get married when I was younger, so I didn't have a clear picture of what I wanted or expected. Why have a wedding? Is it worth it? Would we be wrecked so hard and so sleep deprived we wouldn't even remember it? If we eloped, would we forever regret not having all of our friends and family there to witness it? Through these conversations we kept coming around to the same answer - our people. Besides us, it was about our community, and we wanted them there. Not only did we want them there, we wanted them to help create it. We couldn't imagine doing it without them. We have a large community of friends around the country that have so many incredible talents - artists, musicians, bakers, chefs, writers, printers, illustrators, jewelry designers, apparel designers, the list goes on. Not to mention our families - my mom has a cupcake-baking obsession. How convenient is that? We knew that if our friends and family helped create our wedding day, it was guaranteed to be the most special day.

A few months into dating, when Rob and I knew that we would be together for a long time, but we were still in that awkward phase of not quite being able to talk about it, we would talk about theoretical weddings. 'If "someone" were to get married, it could be like this...' My favorite idea was to have a timber frame wedding. The first real conversation we had was in a timber frame class at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont about five years ago. We thought, wouldn't it be so beautiful to cut our own timber frame together, and then make the raising day the wedding day? Our community would come together and lift the frame, and then that night we would get married under the frame.

We kept coming back to this idea as we talked about what our wedding day could look like. Our whole relationship has been about building, both literally and figuratively. We are project people - we constantly work out ideas, make things, dream together, and work together. Rob had moved to Vermont from Brooklyn, where he had been working at an architecture firm as a designer. My background is in fine art, and I had moved to Vermont from DC where I worked for an environmental design non profit, via traveling all over the world volunteering for environmental education centers and building with mud and clay. We knew that whatever we did for the wedding day, we needed community, and we needed to build something for it.

As we looked around for places to have the ceremony, we quickly grew disillusioned - pay $300 extra for the matrimonial bridge? 5 hours of party time and then spend the rest of your evening folding chairs? This sacred moment deserved a sacred space. Matrimonial bridges immediately made it feel like a commodified, package experience when our relationship has been built by hand. When our dear friends Ashley and Glenn English offered their land to us, we realized there wasn't a better place. It was as sacred as they come. A field down a beautiful tree-lined dirt road, next to a yurt, in a lovely cove in Asheville. We had found our place.

When we told them our idea to building something on their land, they were all for it. The Englishes have this dream of having a small community of friends live on the their land - something that has started to happen. Our good friend Natalie has her tiny home there for the time being, and a couple other friends John and Jen have yome that they visit a few times a years. So as we talked about our plans for the altar, they were incredibly supportive and excited.

Guests parked at the Hominy Wildlife Club, a tiny Wes Anderson-esque club at the end of Ashley and Glenn's half mile long dirt driveway. Our friends George and Jake shuttled guests in the back of a '72 Ford pickup truck on the dirt road to the lower field where our reception site was. Guests arrived to our friend Mary Lattimore playing harp. She chose a righteous mix of Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, plus a list of songs we both love. There folks could immediately get a stiff drink, play badminton, chat, or sit on a picnic blanket.

When Mary stopped playing harp, our friend Winston Yu started playing "Tis a gift to be simple" on violin, and led guests further up the driveway to the ceremony site - our pyramidical altar. Ashley and Glenn's house is about 200 feet from the altar, so we got dressed there and watched as all 170 of our guests walked up the dirt road to the altar. It was so moving! Once all of the guests had gathered, Winston started playing "I must be in a good place now", a Bobby Charles song we both love dearly. We walked slowly, hand in hand to the altar. Each of our mothers were standing on either side of the altar. We each approached our own mother, and she placed a woven necklace over our heads. We then when to each other's mother, and she placed another necklace over our heads. Our fathers have both passed away - Rob's when he was in high school and my father last year, so it was important that our moms each had a large role in the ceremony.

We stood on the altar facing each other hand in hand, and our friend Alex welcomed everyone. His sermon was lovely - we couldn't have asked for anything more. He talked about the nature of our relationship, how he has seen us grow together from the day we met, and wove in perfect analogies to building.

All three of Rob's and my respective nieces and nephews approached the altar and handed us sprigs of spruce and pine. After they did this, Alex described the process of raising a timber frame, and after the community has raised it, the owners place a sprig of evergreen at the top of the gable end of the roof - a process known as "whetting the bow". As he described this, we climbed each side of the altar to the top and placed our evergreens at the top. 

When we reached the platform of the altar again, our friend Megan Offner approached and gave an Apache blessing. After Megan's beautiful reading, we said our vows. We had written our vows together late the night before. We kept them simple but meaningful to us, and read the same vows to each other. Together for our lives, together on our vows.

My sister Melinda was holding my ring for Rob, and Rob's eldest brother John was holding his ring for me. They brought them up and gave them to us, and we exchanged them. Alex pronounced us husband and wife and we kissed! And it ruled! As we left the altar and walked down the dirt road Winston played "Whistle Stop" by Roger Miller - one of the best and happiest songs I know. It's a song I've loved since I was a small child, and felt so happy to have it part of our day.

We walked to the yurt that is on Ashley and Glenn's land and hid out for while. We need some time to laugh and cry together, trying to process what had just happened. My friends had decorated the yurt with tons of flowers, made the bed for our first night together as a married couple, and put champagne on ice. It was beautiful! 

Finally we came out to greet all of our friends and family and celebrate. I have never celebrated so hard.

This day was made by so many incredible friends and family, and we want to give them THANKS and LOVE right here. We are proud to call each and every one of these folks our friends (J. Crew isn't exactly a friend, but feels like it!)

Photos by Tim Robison
Beautiful land offered by Ashley and Glenn English
Altar designed by Rob Maddox + Karie Reinertson
Wedding invite illustrated by Kreh Mellick. Map insert designed and illustrated by Rob's mom, Sally. Specific information packet written and designed by Karie Reinertson
Wedding invitations designed by Lizzie Kirrill Britton of To & From With Love
Karie's dress by Anna Toth of Bow + Arrow Apparel
Karie's handerchiefs - made by Valerie Soles and one vintage one from Rob's mom
Rob's suit and shirt by J. Crew
Rings by Hannah Ferrara of Another Feather
Karie's earrings by Is Was + Will Be
Insane loads of help, errand running, and general good vibes the week leading up to the wedding provided by Jeff Kaplan, George Peake, Sheena Troia, Valerie Soles, Ian Whitmore, Megan Offner, and Mark Foster.
Cake and TWO HUNDRED cupcakes by Karie's mom, Marcie.
Woven rite of passage necklaces by Jess Feury
Officiated by Alex Sauer
Apache blessing during ceremony by Megan Offner
Flowers from Lady Luck Organic Flower Farm. Flowers picked by Sarah Wilmer, Sayaka Nagata, David Herman, and Zach Biesanz. Floral arrangements by Kristin Korven, Megan Offner, Sheena Troia
Major day-of behind the scenes help from Rory Sparks and Jake Donat
Guest book designed and bound by Rory Sparks
Communal woven piece made by Libby O'Bryan and Karie Reinertson
Signage for woven piece made by Tamera Ferro
Indigo dyed table cloths and shredded fabric made during Karie's bachelorette weekend
Wooden table objects by Brandon Skupski and Rob Maddox
Music by Matt Schnable of Harvest Records
Harp music composed and played by Mary Lattimore
Violin music composed and played by Winston Yu
Barbeque by Fine Swine and Death by Bacon (Rob's past employer at Virant Design)
Almost all of the food for the organized potluck was made by our amazing guests! We chose a couple delicious and simple recipes from from Ashley English's books / Homemade Dairy + Beekeeping - Macaroni and Cheese and Roasted Root Vegetables. Extra trays of food made by Valerie Soles, Ian Whitmore, Karie's sister Melinda's family, Rob's eldest brother John's family.
Bread by Tara Jensen of Smoke Signals Baking / Bakerhands
Potluck booze by our generous guests
Homemade teas by Natalie Pollard
Signage for food and ingredients by Rob's mom, Sally Maddox
Photobooth by Massive Booth. All signage and props designed and made by them, except for the drug rugs and backdrop, which is our bedspread. :)
Farolitos made by Santa Fe residents and farolito pro's Callie Batts Maddox and Marilyn Batts.
Truck to shuttle guests from parking area to reception area offered by Miles Britton
Parking offered at the cutest place ever, the Hominy Valley Wildlife Club


Pre-wedding good times /

September 19th: Bonfire the night before our wedding hosted by Rich and Jen Orris on their beautiful land in Asheville. They made barbeque and provided food and booze and amazing company. We left early that night to write our vows (yes we are procrastinators) but there were tales of whiskey shots with homemade pickle back late into the night.

Labor Day weekend: The best bachelorette party weekend ever organized by Libby O'Bryan. Epic handmade accommodations on a river near the North Carolina coast, complete with party barge, late night dance parties, illegal trampoline jumping, swimming in a tea-colored river, spa night with handmade spritzers and bath salts (not those kind), milkshakes, beach picnics, swimming in perfect waves on a bright sunny day, the best communal meals, witchy rites of passage with offerings from good friends and the most kind words, photographed portraits, Cards Against Humanity, and togetherness with some of my favorite women. Spa times offered by Nicole McConville and Natalie Pollard, dance party jams crafted by Megan Offner, atmospheric hang tunes by Kristin Korven James, basket full of road trip goodies by Kreh Mellick, big screen hangout with Valerie Soles, photographic portraits by Sarah Wilmer, general good feelings with Sayaka Nagata, Lizzie Kirrill Britton, and Emily Gasoi.

We love love love you all dearly. You + Me + Us + We.

All photos below taken by Tim Robison. Click to see all. More to come!