[ COVETED ] INTERVIEW WITH SARAH LAW OF KARA STORE

Bear with me here as it has probably been a couple years now that I have hauled canvas totes around on a seemingly endless hunt for a good bag. End Scene and Enter Sarah Law with a beautiful collection of handbags, K A R A.  Now I can finally put my totes to rest. With a design approach and execution that is both thoughtful and engaging, each piece is functional and timeless. 

In doing this interview I am reminded, yet again, that thoughtful design comes from thoughtful people. In receiving Sarah's responses to my questions, I'm not only delighted to personally own one of her designs, but also feel a trip to Marfa exploring the desert and admiring the works of Donald Judd are in order. Or,  maybe I need to deliver on our KC and JOJO karaoke duet?!

[ SANAM MIREMADI ]  

Firstly, and I’m sure you get this all the time, what is behind the name KARA? I saw on your website that its derived from the Japanese word “karaoke” which was a pleasant surprise and I have a feeling there is a good story to accompany it?

[ SARAH LAW ]

I was back home in Hong Kong and a family friend asked me what I like to do for fun. The previous night, I had been out late doing karaoke so somewhat jokingly, I said it was my favorite hobby.  This family friend, a recently retired professor of Korean and Japanese studies, explained that karaoke means empty orchestra. I was just starting my business, so it seemed fitting to pick something referencing a fresh start or a new beginning.

[SM]    

We so admire your design aesthetic, your bags carry just enough detail to feel special and at the same time are not over designed and have a timeless quality.  What is your design approach and how is that translated into your bags?

[ SL ]

I find myself drawn to things that are simple and have a sense of ease.  When I am designing, I start with the way I want something to look or feel then I figure out the functionality and the materials.  

[ SM ]

I was reading a story online where you mentioned sitting in a meeting with buyers talking business, invoices and so on. In the mix of all this more serious dialog everyone was petting your bags. I love that. There is something to be said about design that stimulates engagement.  How do you approach picking your materials season to season?

[  SL ]

Sourcing materials is probably the most labour intensive aspect of my work. I constantly think about what I would love to see then figure out where I can find it or have it made. For SS14, I wanted to create this feeling of liquid metal dripping down the bags. I made these blurred drawings of flowers and had them stamped on to bags in iridescent foil. It took forever to find a supplier who could recreate the effect.

[ SM ]

I also appreciate how dedicated you are to quality and timelessness. Can you explain how you approach and what is behind wear testing?

[ SL ]

A while ago, I read Yvonne Chouinard's (the founder of Patagonia) book 'Let My People Go Surfing'. In one segment, he mentioned the Iroquois concept of 'Seven Generation Sustainability'. The idea emphasizes making decisions with the consideration of the impact, seven generations from now. There are many things about my business I would like to improve and I use that concept as a filter for how we work. Wear testing helps with making corrections to the design functionality and also understanding how to improve the longevity of the product.

[ SM ]

Who and what inspires you?  

[ SL ]

I have a long list, but here are a few- 

Brunello Cucinelli. His approach to business, his employees and manufacturing. 

Aung San Suu Kyi. Her message and her passion. Not to mention her killer style. 

Donald Judd. His emphasis on how the entire surrounding relates to the work and also his aesthetic.

[ SM ]

Who do you design for?

[ SL ]

People in creative industry- other designers, artists, writers, etc.

[ SM ]

What is in store for KARA in the future?

[ SL ]

Right now, I am working on portfolio cases and bags. I want to do more with travel and utility items like camera bags.

[ SM ]

Lets say I walk into a NYC karaoke bar, what might I find you singing?

[ SL ]

Maybe be a duet?  All My life, KC and Jo Jo.

[ SM ]

Favorite karaoke experience, to date?

[ SL ]

This year I had a joint birthday party with my friend from Opening Ceremony. We had dinner and did karaoke in Korea town. My memory is a little foggy but I think one of my employees went through Ja Rule's entire career.

 

WORDS | Sanam Miremadi [ ChloeTouran ]

IMAGES | KARASTORE.com