"Everything should be made as simple as possible..but not simpler." Albert Einstein


I have a thing for coats and jackets.  They are my favorite type of clothing and the first thing I look at when I go shopping.  I’m not sure why I like them so much.  Maybe because I’m always cold or maybe it’s because it’s easy to wear a coat.  There aren’t the issues with fit that you have with dresses or jeans.  You can put on a coat with an interesting cut or shape over a plain outfit and instantly feel put together.

I have many many coats.  I don’t get rid of them.  A particular favorite is sort of trench coat syle, in a medium grey with a large collar, A-line shape and white contrast stitching.  I got it about 12 years ago at Diesel when I lived in San Francisco and I still wear it every spring.  And every time I wear it someone comments on it.

I remember vividly the coat that got away too.  I was visiting Robin Richman (my very favorite store ever) for the first time, maybe about 10 years ago and she had a collection of exquisite wool coats made with different pieces of wool stitched together in a very subdued type of mosaic.  The designer was from Russia.  I wanted one of those coats so badly it hurt.  They were $750.  I left reluctantly but memorized the designers name.  When I got home I couldn’t find anything on the internet about them.  I either got the name wrong or they were so obscure nothing existed online.  I still think about those coats often.

At some point I would like to design a collection of coats.  This collection, called Lifecoat by Jet Korine, is breathtaking on every level.

This jacket started with the material.  It is a very unique linen.  It’s an open weave and if you hold it up to the light you can see through it.  The individual fibers are not thin though, so while being sheer it still feels like a midweight fabric.  The fibers also have a bit of body and if you don’t iron the fabric it has this amazing bark like texture.

I wanted a very simple design that would allow the fabric texture to be prominent.  This has inseam pockets, drop sleeves and a drawstring bottom.  Lately I’ve been exploring unstructured shapes with few pieces.  This cuts down on fabric waste and allows for a volumetric and modern silhouette.  These types of shapes feel more natural to me too – less fussy.

plant list

top row, l to r: blue fescue, black lace elderberry bush, chives, russian sage, coral bells ‘purple palace’, salvia.
middle row, l to r: sumac ‘tiger eyes’, blue oat grass, golden cypress, arctic willow, japanese forest grass, yarrow.
bottom row, l to r: japanese maple ’emperor’, river birch, sage, feather reed grass ‘karl forester’, pom pom juniper, dogwood.

Anna from Door 16 asked me awhile ago if I would post a list of plants that we have in our yard/garden.  These are the majority of the plants we have and they’ve all been planted since we moved in.  They were all chosen for either their shape, structure or color.  There are a few others that were existing when we moved in -some huge lavender colored lilac bushes (more like trees) and two peony bushes, one white, one magenta.  These are well established and I won’t remove them, but they seem very country cottage to me and don’t really go with our mid-century/50’s style house.

You can read some thoughts I wrote a few years ago about landscape design in my old online journal, when I had just discovered the wonders of landscape subtraction.  I still love pruning, but now I’ve started to embrace the idea of removing as well.  There are some plants that just don’t seem to be working and I also feel like I have too many different varieties.  I am ready to take the subtraction to a more extreme level.


Downtown Minneapolis, skyway over Nicollet Avenue, skyscraper

This type of multi-view drawing is so effortless when you are 5.  As an adult looking at it, it seems so interesting and perceptive and yet so difficult to achieve.  I need to turn my logical brain off more when I’m drawing.  I learn so much from my kids.


Photograph by Sarah Rubens

This weekend I had a photoshoot for my S/S collection.  It is late in the season, and I already have images up of the entire collection on my workbook site, but I wanted to document the clothing on a model.

I struggle with the seasonal pace of fashion design, along with the logistics and expense of showing a collection.  You need models and photographers, a location, lighting and equipment.  It all needs to be done months in advance.  If you are not already on that cycle it is hard to work up to the point of being a year ahead in your work.  I guess the answer is to just skip a season and jump ahead.

I have to say though that this was super fun.  Because I had already released this collection to be ready for the Fault Lines show I participated in at Rare Device in San Francisco, I kept this shoot pretty minimal and we (all photography by Sarah Rubens, modeling by Julia Davidson) did it in just a few hours with a simple paper backdrop and a few props.  It’s just what I wanted.

After I saw the images a day later, I of course had all kinds of ideas for ways of styling the shots better.  I really like how the scarf here adds some depth to the image and wish I would have taped a large geometric shape with the black tape on the background.  That would have been awesome.

You can view a slideshow of the collection on the U N website.


Since returning from my trip to Mexico, when people ask me what I thought of the place, I have a hard time describing it.  I fell hard for Mexico City, from the moment the cab left the airport in the dark and drove around and around, circling back through the same dense streets searching for our little hotel.

Walking out onto the sidewalk the next morning I felt this excitement of being somewhere new, but also an electricity about the place.  I was all at once completely overwhelmed, happy, amazed and at  home.  The best way to describe it is that the place is compressed.  It really felt to me exactly like a Diego Rivera mural, where everything, color, texture, architecture, people, experience and time are all overlapped.

I really liked the range of architectural styles mingling together with an emphasis on texture and material.  So much beautiful concrete.  And the contrast of lush foliage with flowers and plants draped and hanging everywhere was jolting.

I remember feeling out of breath, like I needed to take it all in instantly and knowing that I couldn’t.  And knowing that there would be no way to capture what it is really like in an image or words.


I saw this courtyard on a recent trip to Mexico City, and was taken by the “living room” quality the potted plants give the space.  I like how using the pots outdoors allows the space to be changed and also let the individual plants stand out as objects, with space around them.

It reminded me of this space by the japanese architecture firm SAANA, who just won the Pritzker prize.


Insomnia, Luc Tuymans, 1988

In March I went to see the Luc Tuymans exhibit at SFMOMA.  I think I stopped dead in my tracks upon entering the first gallery, completely overwhelmed by the color and spareness and subtlety of his paintings.  Part of this might have been surprise.  A friend had traveled to see this show a few weeks before and when she told me about it, I looked up his work online.  I had not heard of Luc Tuymans before (yes, I live under a rock) and was not moved at all by what I saw.  But seeing the paintings in person, and as a group, was completely different.  There is a layering and glow to the paint that has an utterly phenomenal effect.   The combination of minimal compostions, difficult subject matter (often dealing with historical horrors), cool color palette and faded, subtle beauty has been called the “Tuymans effect.”  And I understand why.  It’s an effect that is hard to describe with words.

The difficulty in the subject matter makes the work even more complex and interesting but for me the atmosphere of the paintings, grouped together, felt like something I could just inhabit like an environment.  I went back to see the show again a few days later and felt the same way -like I was melting into the floor.  I had a similar experience upon hearing the music of Sigur Ros for the first time.  Beautiful, spare, haunting, surreal and incredibly inspiring.  The ultimate combination of simplicity and complexity.

A talk with Luc Tuymans about the SFMOMA show.
Some images of paintings here.


I don’t often use printed fabrics. I like the design of a garment to come from the way it is made and I tend to favor texture over pattern. But I do like patterns, especially if they are abstract or geometric and take advantage of the size of the cloth. This type of pattern is hard to find in fabric though, and when I do find it it is often not on the type of fabric I want to use.

Recently I decided to try designing my own patterns. This one is based on striation patterns on a rock surface. The overall pattern stretches the whole width of the fabric (58″) and has a 12″ vertical repeat. The linework is grey and printed on a tissue weight cotton knit.

I used it to make some tops with a drapey front and overall I like how they came out although they are a little more casual than I had intended. I debated having it printed on silk but thought that might be too formal. In hindsight I think the print would have toned down the formalness of the silk and given it a bit more polish.

This was an amazing learning experience, going from sketch to print to fabric selection and garment.


I’ve been working on some home accessories and realized just why I like making them so much: there is no issue about fit or how they will look on someone.

I love making clothes, but when it comes right down to it, clothing is very personal. No matter how much you like an item, whether it is from a designer or from a chain store, it might not look right on you. Every person’s body is so different and everyone’s idea of what looks good on them or what works is also different. I have to admit that that gives me anxiety. My goal is always to straddle the line of simple and basic pieces that have something that makes them just a bit different and interesting. Hopefully this translates into clothing that works on a wide range of body types and for a lot of different style interests. But I know every piece can’t work for every body.

Pillows though, are completely different. No fit issues there:)


I have several sketchbooks.  A little one that I take everywhere that mostly has notes and sketches in it, a super big one that I paste little bits of inspiration into and then a spiral one with perforated pages, that I use for making what I call garment sheets.

When it’s finally time to sit down and put all my ideas into a somewhat cohesive whole I gather my sketches and fabric swatches and image tears and make a page for each garment or accessory I want to make for a collection.  I like this part of my process because it’s the first time I see everything all together.

I have several sketchbooks. A little one that I take everywhere that mostly has notes and sketches in it, a super big one that I paste little bits of inspiration into and then a spiral one with perforated pages, that I use for making what I call garment sheets.

When it’s finally time to sit down and put all my ideas into a somewhat cohesive whole I gather my sketches and fabric swatches and image tears and make a page for each garment or accessory I want to make for a collection. I like this part of my process because it’s the first time I see everything all together.

These are some of my garment sheets for my spring SHIFT collection.

An interview and a video, both on young female artists, that I saw recently and found inspiring.

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