Araya Jensen knows good design. With 12 years of kitchen + bath design work under her belt, she decided to launch her own line of simple, yet modern home goods – now internationally recognized as Wind & Willow Home – several years ago. Jensen’s colorful housewares fuse her passion for function, quality and design. The beech wood spoons, bowls, cutting boards and mini vessels are carefully crafted in her Minneapolis studio, and are hand dipped in a rubber mixture that is made in small, seasonal batches. Each piece boasts custom-made, bold colors and upholds the integrity of the natural materials used.
More on Wind & Willow Home from designer and owner, Araya Jensen, in our exclusive Modern Midwest Q&A.
Modern Midwest: Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background?
Araya Jensen: Hi, my name is Araya (uh-ray-uh, like a ray of sunshine). A love of comfort and beauty is what initially led me from my small Minnesota town near the north shore of Lake Superior to the city to pursue a career in interior design; where I enjoyed designing beautiful and functional spaces for home owners for over twelve years, as a Kitchen and Bathroom Designer.
MM: Tell us about your company.
AJ: After losing my job due to the housing market crash, an enterprising spirit and solid Midwestern work ethic is what led me to create Wind & Willow Home. Wind & Willow Home started in 2012 existing originally as a curated web shop of handmade home goods created by other designers, Wind and Willow turned into a brand of its own quickly, after the launch of my own line which started with wooden spoons, followed by wooden salad bowls, cutting boards and mini vessels. Over the next two and a half years I have been growing my line of simple, yet modern home goods which have become internationally recognized for their bold colors, bare woods, and organic textures.
MM: What’s your creative process like?
AJ: I begin with beautifully turned bowls and carved spoons, slowly hand dipping each in a synthetic rubber that I custom mix. The beauty is in the uniqueness of the natural wood grain and the reaction between that wood and the rubber creating bubble patterns as it reacts to the process ensuring each item is completely special.
I make each colorway or grouping in small seasonal batches ensuring you get a truly special product. Each color or combination is created by first curating a coordinating collection, then mixing each color until I am completely satisfied with the results.
MM: What makes the Midwest, specifically Minnesota, special?
AJ: I am born and raised in Minnesota so it is truly home to me.
MM: What’s one thing a non-Minnesota native should know about the city?
AJ: The amazing Summers completely make up for the long Winters
MM: Where do you get your inspiration?
AJ: Mostly, my inspiration comes to me in my quiet moments, as a compilation of things I have seen on adventures in the north woods or traveling throughout the country with my family.
MM: What’s something new – or challenging – that you’re working on?
AJ: I am extremely excited about my new wooden plates which are a combination of solid wood and acrylic. Like my other products they are a modern twist on something classic but these are truly a work of art.
MM: Any fun facts about the brand or making process that you’d like to share?
AJ: A huge change is coming to Wind and Willow Home in 2016. Stay tuned.