Here at Chrome City we pride ourselves in having ultra-creative and inspiring homies throughout the Chicago and San Diego area. Each month we feature a new individual highlighting his/her vibrant story, brand, mission or projects. Meet this month’s #ChromeHomie, Lisa Kingsley!
Lisa Kingsley, Designer & Creator of Kingsley Designs
Q: When did you first fall in love with designing?
A: It sounds counter intuitive, but I first got into design through watching St. Elsewhere, my favorite TV show as a teenager. Through the show, I learned about pacing, layering, sequence, dialogue, the importance of silent pauses, structure, story and emotion. All of which was so thoughtfully designed in each hour of that brilliant show. It soaked in and compelled me to realize that design is everywhere and that became my lens. I paid close attention to the structure of a RUN DMC song and to the artwork on a POLICE record. I was constantly like: “look at how they wrote that or paced that or placed that…”
Q: What sets Chicago’s fashion scene apart from other cities?
A: It doesn’t FEEL like there’s an overt fashion scene here. More so, unique creatives like Kanye & Virgil and Chris & Shane of Creatures of The Wind/CDLM are coming out of Chicago and merging Chicago’s authentic street and art cultures to create fresh high fashion from a solid place. There are distinctive feeling tones about Chicago and depending on your neighborhood, they can be powerful. Cultural movements that emerge through Chicago are hugely impactful, which makes the city even more interesting on the down-low. I mean, look at the history of Air Jordans to date! Chicago is a launching pad for large, lasting movements. Not fading trends. It’s cool that way.
Q: What is your creative process?
A: My eyes do a lot of work. I don’t walk past details. A lavender lace curtain in a window in Mexico or the way waves are rolling in today or the one odd purple light in the strip of blue lights on the John Hancock at night. A tulip’s brush strokes. A broken down fence. Charms hanging from a taxi’s rear view mirror all feed my process. The other day I glanced out my window and saw a yellow and white paneled umbrella next to a pale peach umbrella, both open and moving underneath solar lime green buds of a tree. The colors played with and against each other and I knew: “Spring/Summer 2020.” Lime, pale peach, butter yellow, white. Seeing extraordinary in the ordinary is natural now. I don’t manufacture ideas. They come to me through paying attention and I catch them as they fall.
Q: What/who inspires and motivates you? Who is your muse?
A: More and more, folks who just show up in the world and do their jobs and don’t seek attention, inspire me. Like Manuel, the kid that runs the fruit stand across the street from my Mexico home. Every day he takes pride in preparing mangoes with chili powder. Over and over again. He talks with his customers and offers a smile all day long. Like the Tao says: ‘Chop Wood, carry water.” I like the unsung heroes. Lately the show "Street Food” has stolen my heart. Again, seeing the extraordinary in the “ordinary.” through people and random scenes or objects is kind of my thing. Anthony Bourdain was definitely my hero. If I had to pick a current “fashion” motivation it would be Lucie and Luke Meier for Jil Sander. They are injecting a lot of beauty and emotion into the collections & visuals. Pure poetry.
Q: After running your shop for five years in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, you’re back in Chicago. What did you learn during your time there and what’s next for Kingsley Design?
A: Oh MY. I learned so much there. It would take an entire book to answer that. I learned to free myself from conventional thinking about the way a designer can have a business in the world. I learned to surrender. I learned to listen. I got (on a deep level) that where there’s a will, there’s a way. I met people from all over the world and learned that something we all share is a quest for authenticity. I learned that my feet do not like close-toed shoes and my soul likes raw, undeveloped cultures.
Q: In a recent interview you said, “The products we make have stories behind them.” Why is this important to you? And can you tell us the “story” behind one piece from your current collection that you are excited about?
A: Story is hugely important in my process of creating things because without a story, an object may just be another fad, or fleeting thing. As a consumer, meaningful things that make me feel good for years to come are what I look for. As a designer, that’s my offer as well. Objects with stories that resonate and last. Going into summer, my scent GOOD WILLING was inspired by sunny summers I spent at my tiny, peaceful, not-fancy but perfect airy cottage on Isobel Street in Union Pier Michigan. I tried to bottle the sky, beaches, bonfires, farmers markets, pies, rolling green farms and big old barns. Good Willing is definitely a “Michigan story."
Q: Tell us about your upcoming collection reveal at space519… What will you be showcasing?
A: We will showcase a wonderful selection of cross body bags, soft buttery sacs, belt bags & city clutches. Also popular jewelry including our artisan molded Village rings and the our wild crafted oil based scent collection. One-of-a-kind pieces in French Linen, sustainable python and ostrich will also be featured. There’s a wonderful, artistic vibe about Space 519 and everything we’re bringing to the pop-up will be like accessory eye-candy.
Q: We’re pumped about your new beauty and wellness brand, Kindred Spirits! What can we expect and when can we get our hands on it?
A: Thanks for asking! Kindred Spirits is an all natural beauty and wellness collection that will include an array of smell good, look good, feel good products from oils to edibles. It sprang from my scent collection and the work I've done with the foremost plant synergy expert in the country to source flower and plant essences from small growers around the world. Every product will be healing and powerful for all of us, hence the name: Kindred Spirits.
Q: Name three must-have Kingsley Design items every woman should own this summer?
A: 1. GOOD WILLING SKIN SCENT: Wild crafted essential oils from small farms with key notes of Italian orange and Mexican pepper.
2. THE BELT BAG: A soft pouch shape with curved edges and rubbed brass grommets on the detachable belt in camel and black tumbled leathers.
3. THE CITY CLUTCH: A hard shell clutch for day or night. Features a rubbed brass frame and comes in an array of textiles and leathers including Vintage Indigo, sustainable Python or French linen.
Q: Where do you most like to hangout in Chicago during your free time?
A: I like to do some volunteer work with kids in my free time. I mentored kids in Mexico and realized that nothing is as important as helping young people to believe in their futures. Mentors were huge life savers for me as a kid growing up in a really broken home and because of my own perseverance against a lot of challenges in life, I know how to help younger people see the light.
Thanks for being a Chrome Homie Lisa!