Designer’s Designer: Nana Spears and Naomi Clark of Fort Makers Heart Them Some Morgan Parish
When Naomi Clark and Nana Spears of the design collective Fort Makers fall in love with a great bag or a killer necklace, they are in a unique position: They might just be able to barter, swapping some of their rad, hand-painted scarves (see) or prints. And they’re always looking to get their hands on more pieces from their pal behind the supa-chic line Morgan Parish. —julia silverman
“I traded my friend Ayeisha [Mesinger] of Morgan Parish for the Clarendon Sac by giving her a couple prints from my time in Venice, Italy. It is the best bag I’ve ever owned! I ride my bike a lot, and it’s the perfect tote to sling over my shoulder to shop for groceries.” —naomi
“I bought these Morgan Parish keychains because of the beautiful and rich color palette. I wanted to see a bunch of them in person—and, honestly, I really wanted to touch them—so I bought them for all the ladies in my family and a few close friends. Now I get to look at them all the time!” —nana
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Naomi Clark Paints Our Scarves
This edition is like a big, amazing art project.
A look at the scarf-painting wall in the Fort Makers Brooklyn studio.
See how good these Fort Makers scarves look tacked to a wall? And though Naomi Clark’s designs warrant a place above your couch, they are technically meant to be wrapped around your neck. The fabrication will motivate you to wear them: Naomi and her partner Nana Spears picked a material that’s 90% cashmere with just a smidge of wool for their special edition for Of a Kind. Talk about cozy. Here, Nana explains how their creations came together, with the help of some top-notch GIF action. —candice chan
Don’t miss out! Naomi decked out just 15 of these scarves for us, so get them while they’re here!
WATCH IT HAPPEN:
GEEK OUT ON THE DETAILS:
To create each one, Naomi paints a giant-sized swath of the cloth (around 25 to 30 yards in total) as one long mural. She eventually cuts it into pieces for individual scarves, so every one is distinct, unique, and part of a giant Fort Makers puzzle. “The inspiration for this scarf was seagull feathers—white, grey, black—but then it needed more colors and punch. So we went with the cool colors of Montauk in January. It’s a reminder of the beach that’s waiting for you.”
To create the ideal hue, Naomi adds water to a variety of acrylic paints, playing with shades and thickness for each color. (Surprisingly, white can be particularly tricky. If the paint becomes too thin, the tint won’t be vibrant enough.)
When it’s time to actually paint, Naomi uses two methods—a spray gun (above) and a regular brush. “We started to notice that the more, different kinds of methods we use, the better.”
“You can tell when Naomi’s using the spray versus the paint brush. All of those elements add up bringing so many different textures.”
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An Inspiration Trip with Fort Makers
Sometimes a weekend getaway to Pennsylvania is what it takes.
Nana Spears’s road trip across the country inspired her so much that she decided to launch Fort Makers, a Brooklyn-based design collective, with painting phenom Naomi Clark. And on a recent fall weekend, Nana, Naomi, Naomi’s boyfriend Noah, and Nana’s boyfriend Daniel went to Pennsylvania to pick up even more ideas by visiting the stomping grounds of local craftsmen and architects. They stopped at wood sculptor Wharton Esherick’s home, checked out The Mattress Factory museum’s permanent exhibit on light-and-space artist James Turrell, and rounded out the trip with visits to two Frank Lloyd Wright homes. Nana gives us a look at one of their favorite stops—Wright’s Duncan House—that will no doubt influence their future designs. —candice chan
“This house is at the Polymath Park Resort. It was moved from outside of Chicago to the Laurel Highlands. They moved a house. Wow. The man who helped reconstruct it told us all about the experience.”
“Our favorite parts of the house were the stone fireplace, the slight slant of the house’s roof, and the overall layout. It has a huge open living space, with a large kitchen, and three private bedrooms off a long hallway. The house is Usonian—meaning a Wright-designed home from the thirties with no attic or basement and very little ornamentation.”
“That’s one of Naomi’s blankets hanging in the living room—we added our own touches to the house and made it a little bit more cozy while we were there. The fireplace, the cool vintage books and barware, and the shag carpet in this room all stood out to us.”
“The area around the house is the Laurel Highlands. It’s beautiful—large, open spaces for farming mixed with woods—and the fall foliage was brilliant. There was a short nature walk on Polymath’s property that led to a little lake, which is where we took a lot of the pictures. That’s Noah, Daniel, and Nana posing underneath the blankets.”
“We love seeing our blankets outside. They’re very often informed by the natural world, and for this trip, we brought blankets that would look good in a fall setting. We chose this fence to hang them because we could make a sort of fort, so to speak, and paint a long line using the fence’s shape. The most fun and exciting moments of this trip were playing with our art in the woods and taking pictures. At the end of the day, we were that good kind of tired.”
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Meet Fort Makers
A road trip (and some wine) fueled the line.
Like so many great stories, the tale of Fort Makers begins at a bar. Nana Spears (left), a then-assistant buyer for Barneys with impressive artistic vision, met a group of friendly, artsy Colorado transplants at her neighborhood Brooklyn wine joint and hit it off with Naomi Clark, an MFA student with a serious flair for painting. In no time, the pair discovered that they were an all-star team. “I love painting, and Nana had the eye to look at everything,” explains Naomi. “It just felt like a good match—like we clicked.” Naomi’s thesis project, a collection of reinvented found objects, was showcased in an exhibition that Nana curated. Inspired by her time with Naomi and the Coloradans, Nana eventually quit her day job and took a fateful cross-country road trip. “I thought, ‘These people are so talented, and they have all these ideas.’ I didn’t want to do just fashion—I wanted to do something for myself,” she says. Partway through the Badlands, Nana came up with an idea of her own: bring together a collective of people to form a design house—a place for crafting textiles and art pieces. And right then, Fort Makers was born.
Now, the dynamic duo, along with a growing coterie of designers and craftsmen, is creating beautiful wood tables, men’s ties, and wall-size painted blanket tapestries—all of which have a free-spirited, outdoors-y feel. And they hope Fort Makers will one day have a gallery space where each work and its story can be showcased for everyone to see, maybe even while drinking a glass of wine. —candice chan
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Hot Shot: Nana Spears of Fort Makers Shows Off Her Favorite Office Supply
We love a house tour—the opportunity take a peek at how awesome people live. And since studios can be like second homes to designers, we decided to make bi-weekly rounds and bring back interesting things we discovered in these spaces. (That’s right: another new feature.) First up, something wonderful and loud beloved by one of the creators of the textile- and color-obsessed line Fort Makers. -jaime
“The different colored tapes—from mt masking tape and Dick Blick—are one of my collections. We use the tape for our marketing kits and whatnot, but the neon orange tape has been especially useful for all kinds of occasions. Once, we used it as a final touch to our first art show in Paris—it works well in installations.” —nana