Elysian Exchange: Building Block

Written by Jessica Comingore

I’m delighted to introduce Kim and Nancy Wu today, the sister duo behind Building Block, a modern and inventive brand lending its edited eye for design to a collection of stunning leather handbags and accessories out of a studio in Downtown Los Angeles. Kim and Nancy both have a background in industrial design and have turned the idea of a classic leather handbag on its head to develop a recognizable and refreshing addition to the fashion market. Drawing inspiration from Japanese culture, vintage furniture and an unmistakable nod to the 80’s, their influences come together to create pieces that are equal parts functional and sculptural.

I had the pleasure of meeting these two through Kristine Arellano at their studio opening last month and am incredibly grateful that they let me come back for a visit with my camera and pick their brains. Their space (shared with Iko Iko and Waka Waka) evokes such a sense of calm, and makes for the perfect backdrop to their growing collection of work. So let’s get to it…

1. Where did you grow up?
Nancy & Kim: Mission Viejo, CA.



2. What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning?
N: Early morning sun and quietness.
K: Our light-filled studio shared with some of my favorite people.

3. What does a typical day look like?
N: At the moment: e-mails, water plants in the studio, e-mails, homemade simple lunch and laughs with studio mates, translating mock-ups to techpacks for SS15, browsing a new pile of inspirational books from Japan, more pixel pushing, Building Block future planning with Kim at Speranza over wine and a bowl of squid ink pasta.
K: AM coffee on route to our studio, e-mails, sketching out ideas, studio lunch time with Kristin and Shin, making mock-ups of next season’s designs, flipping through vintage furniture catalogs and fashion magazines for inspiration, PM book or movie and a glass of wine.



4. Motto you live by.
N: “To make something which looks like itself is, therefore, the problem, the solution. To make something which is unraveling, its own justification is something like a dream. There is no paradox, for that is only a separation from reality. We have no mind, only its dream of being, a dream of substance when there is one.” —Richard Tuttle
K: I like going back to this one: “We shall not cease from exploration, and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” —T.S. Eliot

5. Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work?
N: Mom and Dad.
K: Mom, Dad, Nancy and the year I lived in Japan.





6. Favorite summer recipe.
N: Sancerre in a paper bag on a rocky beach.
K: Avocado ice cream.



7. Your dream travel destination.
N: Scuba diving in the great barrier reef.
K: New Zealand is next on my list.

8. Book currently on your nightstand.
N: Where I Was From by Joan Didion.
K: Architectural Body by Madeline Gins and Arakawa, and my 5-year diary.




9. Something you collect.
N: Vintage Steinbeck novels.
K: Spoons.





10. Soundtrack for a productive day.
N: Brian Eno.
K: Lovers Rock by Sade.



Thanks so much for the visit, Kim and Nancy!

Visit: Website / Facebook / Instagram

—Photos by Jessica Comingore.

Comments (9)

  • Corina Nika

    one of my favourites in the whole history, so nice to get to know a little more

    • Jessica Comingore

      Thanks Corina! So glad to hear. 🙂

  • kristine

    Inspiration for all senses – eyes (all over) sound (sade) and taste (peanut butter nuggets). Beautiful to see your eye behind this.

    • Jessica Comingore

      XO! With biggest thanks to you.

  • Lisa miller

    Such a beautiful. Space , can’t wait to visit.

    Perfect aesthetic thanks Jess as always xo

    • Jessica Comingore

      Thanks Lisa! You should definitely pop by — I think you’ll enjoy their work, very much.

  • marlene

    jess! this is lovely! nice interview and all the shots look faaab!

    • Jessica Comingore

      Thaaank you, gal! So much.

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