• UO Studio Visits: Fruitmilk

    Fruitmilk is Kelynn Smith and Pauline Shaw, and together they’re changing the way that people view art. In advance of their pop-up this week at Space 15 Twenty (running from June 5-July5) we visited their LA gallery and creative studio space to learn more about their mix of jewelry, homemade ceramics and clothing.
    Photos by Daria Kobayashi Ritch

    How did you two meet?
    P+K: We met through mutual friends when Kelynn had just moved to LA in 2013. We shared a bowl of soup noodles and the rest is history!

    What are your backgrounds in design and art?
    P: I went to Rhode Island School of Design for sculpture. Since graduating I’ve worked with some great artists and designers, as well as done residencies and fellowships in France and Italy.
    K: I studied Fashion Business and Cultural Studies at Columbia College in Chicago. Since graduating I’ve worked for a couple major retailers in buying and development. I also do some consulting here and there, and I currently work for a local clothing brand here as a Design Assistant and Project Manager.

    What made the two of you decide to start Fruitmilk together?
    P+K : We had a shared aesthetic, for sure, and a vision that involved promoting an interdisciplinary approach to art/design/fashion/events/etc. We were both questioning this idea of product as art and/or vs. art, and wondered how we could incorporate it into a gallery/shop, so we just got started right away. It’s been a year now, and a definite learning experience. As we’ve grown, we’ve cultivated this way to build lasting experiences, or "Fruitmilk worlds" in ephemeral spaces working with food, images, and unexpected materials, on top of the art objects and clothing we work with on a daily basis.

    For someone who may not know what exactly it is, how would you explain what you do at Fruitmilk?
    P+K: Fruitmilk is essentially a creative studio, an umbrella for all our shared projects. We have our online shop where we showcase designers whose work we really believe in. We do residencies or "pop-ups" from time to time where we display these works in a physical space that we design and build out - more like an installation than a retail space.

    Fruitmilk can also be used as an incubator for our own designs. We just launched an in-house limited run clothing line called SP-KS along with our ceramics. We also program events and work on projects with other artists.

    There's a lot going on! How do each of your roles differ?
    P: Because of my background in materials, etc., I take on more of the art object creation/production side of things, as well as conceptualizing the spaces and build out. Kelynn and I like to joke that I'm good at the first half of creation, and she’s good at the second half, so together we make a great team!
    K: That statement is very true. I’m terrible with materials until Pauline teaches me! I definitely take on more of the clothing side of the business, curating our shop assortment, and working with our designers and with all our local contractors for the new in-house label.

    How do you find the designers you feature in your gallery?
    P+K: Either through friends or online.

    What aesthetics are you most drawn to?
    P+K: We love transformable work: a dress with an unforeseen tie that alters its silhouette, exaggerated objects (giant mugs, for example), and jewelry with interchangeable parts. Things that make you question their usefulness.

    What can people expect to find at your pop-up at Space 15 Twenty?
    P+K: We’ve got a ton of great stuff; some new objects, some classic Fruitmilk pieces… it’s a really good mix! Just have to wait and see!

    Who are some artists that you’ve been excited by recently?
    P: Pierre Huyghe. I saw his retrospective in Paris about a year and a half ago and I remember walking out in a literal haze after being in the show for six hours. I can’t remember the last time an artist had that effect on me. The retrospective just showed here at LACMA as well and I had the same experience.
    K: Pauline put me on to Pierre Huyghe! I’m really into Samara Golden’s work right now, too, and currently obsessing over Vetements – the way they play with texture and silhouette and their "study"of clothes is too good.

    Any other favorite galleries or boutiques that you like to check out in LA?
    P+K: There are so many great art spaces in LA! That’s a tough one, because the list would be too long. As for boutiques, we thrift a lot and we’re suckers for sample sales.

    When you two aren’t working, where can you be found?
    P: Watering my plants. A friend just told me that I technically have an "urban jungle" as I have more than 42 species of plants!
    K: She’s not kidding! She’s a crazy plant lady. Lately I’ve been really into lounging at the public pool.

    Visit the Fruitmilk pop-up at Space 15 Twenty (1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd.) from June 5 - July 5, with an opening party on June 5 from 7-10pm!