Here at GRAY we’re lucky enough to see design as it’s happening—from products to architectural projects, we often get a first look at what the designers of our region are working on. We also often get a look at their studio spaces, many of which are way too cool to stay hidden.
We’ve decided to throw back the curtain on many of these creative havens and start the newest column on the GRAY blog, devoted to displaying where designers get their inspiration, spend their time, and create the products we all love so much. Our first Studio Tour is with Kim Kogane, founder and designer of Fresh Tangerine, a handmade jewelry company based in a spacious Pioneer Square loft in Seattle.
There’s no question that Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood is in the process of transitioning from an area of rundown, empty buildings to an up-and-coming district full of hip restaurants, trendy shops, and various design firms.
When jewelry designer Kim Kogane moved from Portland to Seattle in January, she found a 1,200-square-foot loft just west of 1st and Yesler, right in the heart of Seattle’s oldest neighborhood. Although she didn’t know much about the area, she fell in love with the expansive hardwood floors and floor-to-ceiling windows in the studio.
Kogane’s company Fresh Tangerine is just four years old, but she’s been dabbling in jewelry design for more than 15 years.
“I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and there’s not much to do there,” she says with a smile. “When I was 15 I got my first job working in a bead store, just for the store credit. I have no formal jewelry training. I’m completely self taught, and started out with beads and wire.”
Two years later Kogane took a metal-smithing class, and after some bouncing around (college in Oregon, some time back in Alaska, a year of teaching in France) she decided to move to Portland, where she got a standard desk job that paid the bills, but left her feeling unfulfilled.
“I was reevaluating my life at the time,” she says. “I had always been making jewelry, but on the side, never as a professional pursuit.”
Channeling her creative energy, Kogane started making jewelry at night, and eventually entered her work in local craft fairs where it was incredibly popular and soon developed a following that keeps growing each month.
“I love that I get to wake up in the morning and be excited to go to work,” Kogane says. “I get to come to a place where I feel super inspired, work with great people, and create beautiful things.”
The Fresh Tangerine line—which includes delicate chain bracelets and necklaces, 14K gold fill geometric rings, and a new feather charm necklace available mid-month—is available in retailers around the globe. Recently Kogane started opening her studio to the public for the neighborhood’s First Thursday art walk, so if the following images inspire you too, check out the Fresh Tangerine website for details about their next open house.
A selection of Fresh Tangerine jewelry displayed in simple glass cases show off designer Kim Kogane’s delicate metalwork.
A jewelry case planted with succulents brings a northwest vibe to Kogane’s self-described “vintage glam” style.
A vintage couch from Portland makes for a cozy seating area, with rugs from Moorea Seal and Urban Outfitters adding layers of color.
Above the couch is a curated gallery wall: the large watercolor is by artist Michelle Armas, out of Decatur, Georgia, the “Je ne sais quoi” print is Sycamore Street Press, the cheeky “Hustle,” “Hello,” “Bonjour,” and “Paris” prints are an Etsy find. The large pink heart by Banquet. Kogane made the dream catchers herself.
A utilitarian shelving unit from Ikea divides the studio and holds special finds from Kogane’s travels. “The objects are all pieces I found while vintage shopping or traveling,” she says. “I would buy things and just store them with the hope that one day I would be able to display them in my dream studio.” The sheepskin pouf is from West Elm, and Kogane made the floral pillow on top.
The conference table is three Ikea tables pushed together. The mason jar flower vases were dipped in glitter for a glam touch. Says Kogane, “and I have an obsession with anything gold and glittery.”
More gathered knick knacks add personality to the space.
On the entrance wall the designer chose yellow heart decals and measured them out herself to create a wallpaper effect. Treats are laid out for her first open studio.
This Ikea shelving unit divides the studio space into “work” and “play” areas, but the open shelving leaves a sense of unity throughout the loft.