CCT ARTISAN: QUENTIN SMITH
With brands like J Crew, Goop, and Theory taking note, it's safe to say this artisanal beach accessory brand is on the rise. We sat down with the Creative Director of Artemare to learn the story of how this artisanal beach accessory brand came to be.
I started Artemare three years ago with a friend who was writing travel features for Vogue. After working as a curator at Cooper Hewitt in New York, I moved to Los Angeles and launched my first furniture collection in 2011. It received rave reviews in the New York Times, which is how people [including my co-founder, Alia Mansoori] found out about my work. I know people say “one thing led to another” all the time, but that’s really what happened after we met.
Everything at Artemare is handmade. We work with craftsmen here in CA or local artisans that we find on our travels. We keep everything very artisanal from start to finish which really sets our brand apart from a lot of other beach brands. Also, we’re object-based and not apparel-based. We like to think of ourselves as the “purveyors of fun.” Everything you need for your beach home, or your beach day, we have.
Our CA office is where most of the production takes place, and our NYC office handles sales and design. I go back and forth between the two pretty frequently. We also take trips 2-3 times per year for inspiration. We like to be able to talk the talk and walk the walk, so part of our program is to travel. Tulum, Puglia, Capetown - we look for luxury beach towns. We just let the ideas flow, bring friends, and get feedback. The artemare brand epitomizes what we call “barefoot luxury:” meaning high quality, well-made, beautiful items, that are also relaxed, not stuffy, laid-back.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
I like to start the day on my own terms, which usually doesn’t involve getting up at the crack of dawn. I do like getting up early when it happens, but a lot of ideas come to me at night and that’s when I do most of my work.
Choice breakfast food?
Oatmeal with raw cashews and dates gets me through the day.
What's one thing you do every day?
Every morning I take my dog Mushu for a walk on the beach, and on the way home I pick oranges to make fresh-squeezed orange and collard greens juice.
Favorite color & why?
Green because it represents the color of life.
Precious memento from childhood?….
I have a collection of keepsakes that I collected during yard sales and rummage sales that I would frequent when I was younger, between the ages of 12-18. I loved that each object was connected to someone’s personal story, and that’s actually where I first started honing my curatorial eye. I remember where I was and how I felt when I got each piece. It was the first foreshadowing of what I would end up doing as an adult.
Secret travel destination?
Puglia. When people travel to italy, most go to Florence, Rome, Milan. I love all those places too, but my favorite place is Puglia. It’s southern italy at its finest: unspoiled, untouched. It’s the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to. The colors are so rich and vibrant. There are olive groves next to red soil next to hills covered in pine trees, turquoise water, white sand. White Trulli stone domes are also really distinctive of the landscape there. The town that we stayed in last time, there was one market, one restaurant, one butcher. That was it. There’s something nice about going back in time and not being inundated with endless options.
Keystone fashion accessory in your life?
I have a chain that I wear all the time. It has a ring on it that I made out of ebony and olive wood.
Underrated or up-and-coming musician you love?
I recently went to a Lemonade concert. They’re a Brooklyn based alternative dance band rooted in electronic drum and bass. It’s really eclectic and a lot of fun.
If you are ever stuck in a rut, how do you get the creative juices flowing again?
Driving, listening to music, being alone with my thoughts... one of the best things about living in CA is that you can take these scenic solo drives. The coastlines after you pass LA, along the water, especially.
Before you leave us, what's one piece of advice you'd like to share with aspiring designers?
"Start where you are. Do what you can. Use what you have." -Arthur Ashe
Learn more about Quentin online at artemare.co.