Wind and Willow Home
Founder: Araya Jensen
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesotta
Etsy Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/WindandWillowHome
“Turned bowls and carved spoons hand dipped in custom-made synthetic rubber.”
Where do you find the inspiration for your work?
I am truly inspired by nature and particularly the colors. When I see nature I see color in it’s purest form. The clear fresh hues of Spring. The shimmery sun drenched colors of Summer. The stark contrast of Winter. I think it is the color that draws me outside, wanting to explore.
Tell us about your design process.
I start my process by finding functional forms to drench in color. I am so drawn to wood with its versatility and depth but have been experimenting with other mediums too. I usually collect these colors over a number of months by taking photos, collecting images and then narrow them down to a cohesive collection.
How has your design process changed since your started?
By trade, I am a Kitchen and Bath Designer so I am quite used to a long, detailed, and quite technical process, but since I have been creating this housewares line I tend to get a vision in my head and I won’t be able to get it out until I test it. It is a very hands-on process, where I experiment until I create a product that I want to keep for myself. That’s when I know it’s complete.
What is your favorite material to work with?
I love, love, love working with wood. Wood is a large part of the Kitchen and Bath Design business: cabinets, countertops, flooring… Wood in its natural state never goes out of style. It is always classic and time-enduring, not to mention its durability. The more you use it, the more beautiful it gets. There are only a handful of other natural materials that you could describe this way.
How does your personal style influence your brand/ company/ products, etc?
My personal style is quite natural and laid back. When I started my website, I curated a collection of items that I would love to have for myself. I can say the same for the goods that I make. If I wouldn’t use it in my own house, I wouldn’t put in in the collection.
Where do you imagine you’ll take the company next?
I am very happy with where I am at right now. I feel like I am in the honeymoon stage where every new product is better than the last. I couldn’t have imagined it being more fulfilling.
I do want to create a full housewares line. I am looking forward to designing some of my own fabric in the near future. I have always imagined having my own retail location where I could really get to know my customers and display a beautiful collection of wares geared toward the home. I would also combine these wares with a custom cabinetry showroom where I can also continue my Kitchen and Bath Design career.
Who would be a dream collaborator?
I would love to collaborate with Genevieve Gorder. I really love her style and personality. The rooms she creates are the perfect mix of natural, classic and calm with a touch of the unexpected. I feel like this is exactly what my line conveys. I also secretly feel like we could be friends. Of course she is a Minnesota native as well, so maybe that is the connection.
What colors/ patterns are you drawn to now?
The neon colors are so fun, and of course I like to add a little funky to each room, but I can’t help but have a weird feeling - like I am trying to re-live my teen years.
I am most comfortable living with soft neutral colors, those that really reflect the sunshine coming through my windows. I love lots of texture, simple tone-on-tone patterns.
How did you get started in this field/ industry?
For as long as I can remember I have always been making things. Whether it was a driftwood sculpture to hang on the wall, a painted rock for the table or a mural of the sky on my bedroom ceiling, it seems like I was always trying to bring nature into my personal space. My professional career started with a dream to create beautiful spaces so I headed to the city to pursue a degree in Interior Design. I graduated in 2000 and began my career in various retail showrooms in areas such as lighting design, tile and stone, custom furniture, cabinetry and finally found my niche as a Kitchen and Bathroom Designer. After becoming certified and being recognized and respected by my peers and clients through multiple design awards, I was laid off due to the housing market crash.
After much worry, lots of interviewing and confusion it seems that fate wouldn’t let me give up. I realized my only option was to do what I knew… unique, classic, quality housewares. I started a webshop featuring artisan-made gifts and housewares inspired by nature. I wanted to round out my kitchen collection with some beautiful wooden spoons but I couldn’t find what I had in mind anywhere. I decided to try it out myself, put them on the website (and on Etsy) and that is where this chapter begins.
What’s one tip you would give to people getting into this business?
Go for it if it feels right, but don’t force it. Have patience, make sure your vision is clear. Be prepared to work harder than you ever thought possible.
Who do you see as an innovator in this field/ industry?
Hmmmm… There are so many amazing artists out there who are making pieces that are truly unique. I love the work of Emma Davies of Australia. Her mesh vessels are so special.