a conversation with IKO IKO, Kristin Dickson

"I think you keep making things in search of beauty
and what you want beauty to mean within your work. It's infinite.

-Kristin Dickson, of IKO IKO

It was not surprising when Kristin Dickson of IKO IKO told me that they don't think about IKO IKO as a job they go to.
She said "It's more like who we are and what makes us completely happy." Over the years, I've had the pleasure of slowly getting to know Kristin and Shin of IKO IKO.

IKO IKO is the perfect place to pick up the latest Apartamento magazine, check out one of their curated shows, or purchase a gift for someone, or yourself. The store carries MerkelWare a line of everyday ceramics by Matt Merkel-Hess, Hannah Keefe's exquisite jewelry, as well as Shin's line of furniture & objects under the name
WAKA WAKA. IKO IKO also hosts Zachary Leener's ongoing ceramic sculptures, which now have been shown at Salon 94 and in the pages of PIN-UP Magazine. Read an interview here with Zachary...

They recently moved to a new location on 931 North Fairfax Avenue, in the heart of Los Angeles. If you have not been to their new store, now is the perfect time! For those not here in LA, shop online with IKO IKO....

Thank you to Kristin and Shin.....

your own, personal, zig zag..
. by waka waka

How do you view the "space" of the store?

As for the offerings of IKO IKO I want it to feel like an experience. So there's a balance in "space enhancing" sculpture, utilitarian work and then work that points to various traditions. I think the artists we show and the work Shin and I produce reveal a particular personality--a fascination with process, texture, pattern, humor and the unexpected.

The idea of limited editions and one-offs is also motivating in who we work with and gives a nice platform to what an artist or designer might want to make outside of their everyday practice. We try to make this a very personal space where ideas are moving around and the work is rotating. The arrangement of the space is determined by how these objects can articulate our story but also give a sense of being in a live space where you are interacting with these pieces.

How do you think about space, in your home, or in your store?

I think they both center around personal expression but more like private versus public expression. I think we view our home as a place with things that inspire us--a big library, our own travel finds and personal effects, but arrangements are created with the idea of living with our collection of things and objects. The store is where we want to inspire an audience, so the artists and makers we show at the store excite us and speak a language we feel is important to share with others. The store is our statement of what we find beautiful, intelligent, unusual and curious.

Tell us about the name of the store & how your store has evolved over the last few years.

It's credited as an old creole song with an original 1953 version (entitled Jock-A-Mo) by James "Sugar Boy" Crawford. A few other musicians had a try at it..the Dixie Cups, Cyndi Lauper, the Grateful Dead. In Gambian it means "attention!" or "listen up!" and in Japanese, "lets go!" I like the possibility it insinuates.

You recently moved your store from Echo Park to Fairfax in Hollywood. How is it?

Our Echo Park space felt more like you were window view into our tiny IKO IKO clubhouse (workshop included). Our new location feels like we've evolved to a more open architecture where there are white walls, big windows and a larger landscape for arranging pieces. It feels a bit more public and like were getting the chance to present our ideas to more people.

The space issue is a huge plus because it provides more opportunity to develop and show new pieces to a larger audience. We are lucky to have built relationships with some amazing artists who we continue to collaborate with on pieces specific to the store and to our concept of IKO IKO. What we are trying to do is build outside of the repetition and overlap that retail can be and create strong work and creative connections with the artists and designers we work with.

Anything you fear?

I try not to.

3 things I would never guess about you?

Tater tots
I would love to live in Spain and study lacemaking.
Art Laboe request line... here...

ROWENA SARTIN, Kristin Dickson's clothing line is sold exclusively at IKO IKO. What is your definition of beauty in regards to your clothing line?

I think you keep making things in search of beauty and what you want beauty to mean within your work. It's infinite. I find that working outside of the idea of a fall or spring collection is easiest for me, so it's more of a long stream of an idea with each clothing piece. I think also when I design it's less about accentuating the female form and more about the conversation the clothing can have on your body--how interesting is the shape, the construction, the finishing details. Those elements make a piece a beautiful idea when the balance is right.

Is there a specific time or place in "history" that occupies your mind?

Not completely, but I do think that the 80s were really visually liberating. It was exaggerated, ridiculous, and so obvious and open to interpretation in fashion. I like the geometry of clothing then, with all the over-sized proportions and how that translated to messages about power, movement, gender.

What colors, shapes, and materials are you attracted to these days?

I'm always attracted to texture and how to work variations of it together and how to drape it in a way that might feel unusual. I also like when fabric recalls certain textural effects like crumbled paper or a plastic bag. I think I also relate comfort to texture as well with the silks and washed rayons. I would have 20 colors all at once if possible, but I typically work with navy, black, white, natural and a few other color favorites--salmon, lavender and grey. I also try to have polka dots somewhere in there, too.

Shins furniture line is called WAKA WAKA. Are your names connected?

We wanted them to sound like family members or at least have a sing-along effect.

How does Shins work influence yours?

He has an incredible identity to his work. Everything he makes maintains a certain character and consistency in design which I think shows his individuality as well as a clear confidence in the process start to finish. I try to be conscious of the distinctions in my designs in the way he effortlessly does.

Is it fair to say your artistic relationship is becoming harder to distinguish?

We feel lucky to work with each other and also share so many similar reference points, inspirations, and creative goals. Its so rewarding to be able to have a creative partnership with your life partner but still have individual perspectives. There's a harmony but also a healthy discord which makes the final pieces work well.

What have you learned from your last few trips to traveling to Japan? Historically or socially? Have these trips altered your ideas of beauty & design?

The idea of respect is so profound from human interactions, to architecture and how people interact with space, honoring seasons, and how art is incorporated in life there--from ceramics to textiles, to plantlife to food. Leaving your comfort zone is much more enlightening when the idea of normal becomes indefinable and where customs and repetitive gestures show you a really everyday beauty.

How does life compare in Japan to Los Angeles?

I think in Los Angeles I'm more aware of the force in how people speak, drive, and interact in general. In Japan there's a marked consideration to certain details and how dutiful people are to those details--trash and recycling (at least 4 different recycling categories), the ceramics you use during each season (even applying it to chopstick rests), interior and exterior architecture (always removing your shoes when entering a home) and the intense presence of nature (flower arrangements both formal and casual in business and homes). Again, its a different application of respect in Japan that I think is really thoughtful.

Thank you to Kristin, for taking the time.
Looking forward to more conversations......

323.719.1079 : HOURS : TUES-SAT 12-7 // SUN 12-5

photos by Marco Annunziata