After spending eight years in the architecture world, Angie Davis decided to reroute her career path and take up product design. Her Minneapolis studio, Byrd & Belle, was founded in 2008, and specializes in handmade goods and accessories. From 100% wool felt, hand-dyed leather iPad sleeves to diecut coasters, Byrd & Belle’s handsome products do not disappoint.
More on Byrd & Belle from designer and studio owner, Angie Davis, in our exclusive Modern Midwest Q&A.
Modern Midwest: Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background?
Angie Davis: My name is Angie Davis and I’m a designer and studio owner in Minneapolis. My design career started in architecture and I practiced for eight years before founding the studio in 2008.
MM: Tell us about your company.
AD: We are a design & manufacturing studio and most of the work we do is for our in-house brand, byrd & belle. We specialize in sewn products, mostly accessories and ‘things that hold other things’. Our work varies in scale from large-scale projects like a co-branded line of storage pieces for Room & Board to small-scale custom pieces for individuals. In recent years, we’ve expanded the design portion of our studio which has allowed us to provide creative direction and design development for other US-made brands but byrd & belle remains my first love and the base from which I draw experience and insight as a designer and a maker.
MM: When/why was it born?
AD: In 2008, the architecture industry slowed and I made a pivot to product design and handmade goods if for no other reason than there wasn’t much else to do and sewing was a known and accessible medium for me. It was excellent timing with the rise of handmade culture and goods ‘made in the USA’ and I was fortunate to get a lot of attention in that first year. What may have been an unintentional start has become for me a career that I couldn’t imagine not having.
MM: What’s your creative process like?
AD: For me, I just have to do the work. I’ve learned that I cannot design things in my head and I just need to put on my headphones, get in front of a machine and put some material though it. There is a discovery process when you design physical goods; you learn the limitations of your machines and the limitations of your materials and try to come up with solutions so elegant it looks like you had no limitations at all.
MM: What makes the Midwest, specifically Minnesota, special?
AD: I grew up on a farm in northeast Iowa and bounced around the midwest a little before coming to Minneapolis about a decade ago. I’m a sucker for a freshly-raked, not-yet-bailed field of hay.
MM: What’s one thing a non-Minnesota native should know about the city?
AD: June in Minneapolis is a nearly perfect thing.
MM: Where do you get your inspiration?
AD: Everywhere. Architecture, art, movies, photography. Right now, I’m into the overlap in vintage Scandinavian and Japanese design which is informing some patterns we’re integrating into our new tabletop collection.
MM: What’s something new – or challenging – that you’re working on?
AD: We just finished design & development on a backpack for a client. Backpacks are intense.
MM: Any fun facts about the brand or making process that you’d like to share?
AD: Our studio dog, Gertrude, is our perpetual ‘Employee of the Month’. She’s been here everyday from the start. She is part namesake of the brand; her middle name is Byrd.
Sample a variety of Byrd & Belle’s specialized accessories at Modern Midwest’s first-ever “Modern Market” in Minneapolis’ North Loop. In addition to Byrd & Belle, a carefully curated selection of local makers will showcase their goods at Modern Market – all of which embody the Midwest’s distinct take on modern living. Enjoy local food and drink, live music and art while supporting the Minneapolis maker community!
Thursday, December 3, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Fast Horse, 240 9th Ave N, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
GET IN ON THE ACTION!
$10 in advance / $20 day of