In the Studio: Adam Pogue
We chat with Adam Pogue about his work and LA.
You and Commune have been working together for a number of years now. I think our followers are certainly familiar with you and our collaborative output but for those who don’t know your backstory, fill them in on how we first started working together.
I had worked for Roman's good friend Nina Garduno at FREECITY where there had been a few collaborative projects over the 11 years I was there. Then about 5 years ago, I decided I wanted to make quilts for a living, haha! Roman was moving into his new space at the time and asked if I would make “stained glass" curtain panels. I thought of bojagi and taught myself the comparable seams on my sewing machine. From there we started the pillow collaboration using textiles Commune had collected over the years.
Where did this all start? Your work is inspired by some very traditional methods and artforms from across the cultural spectrum. There is also a sense of architecture and a feeling of modernity throughout. What did you study or pick up along the way that you can clearly connect to what you are producing now?
I think it all comes back to being creative with what is easily accessible. The commonality between quilts, bojagi, boro, etc. is scraps of fabric and a needle and thread. It’s the necessity to create something useful while also being creative and personal. I had always made things for myself to keep my spaces interesting like appliquéing my whole couch in pieces of denim or hand knotting a rug with scraps. It wasn’t until I started my first quilt that I realized it was something I could offer to others. I think the sense of architecture and modernity comes from the fact that I always wanted to be an architect! I would draw floorplans and elevations as a kid. I took architecture courses at community college and became obsessed with going to Sci-Arc. In the end I didn’t have the means to make it happen, but I also took sculpture courses at the time and realized I could put that creativity into other forms.
Follow up, where is this going? And I don’t mean to sound facetious. Your work has always evolved for us (in particular, I’m thinking of the amazing applique pillows received for the shop recently that broke the mold again) and I am curious… is there something you are searching for?
I have set myself the goal of never making the same thing twice. Hand dyeing and the mix of vintage materials kind of ensures that doesn’t happen anyway. I also don’t have anything completely figured out before I start. I’ll usually start with a color story and a starting detail and build around it figuring it out as I go. This keeps things interesting and hopefully I’m getting better at it with time. I’m always thinking of things to make! I would love to get further into sculpture, furniture, rugs etc. Lately I’ve been fantasizing about doing large scale repairs on old rugs.
Is there a dream project or client in mind? Personally, I want to see a play outfitted by Adam Pogue. Background tapestries, costumes, abstract furnishings, set pieces…
This is going to sound really dumb and cliche, but the fact that I get to do this for a living is kind of a dream already. I’ve been on this course for almost 5 years now and I feel good about what may be ahead.
We also began representing you in an official capacity last year. We’ve helped secure commissions for drapery, tapestries, upholstered stools, quilts… and we’ve sent your work abroad, as well. For anyone interested in commissioning work from you, let’s let them behind the scenes for a moment. How does your process start? Where do the textiles and the dyes come from? What does a typical project look like for you?
I guess I answered this a bit of this already, but to dig in a little deeper.. you actually provide the majority of the amazing textiles I get to work with! I have ended up working mostly with linen. Otherwise I live and work a few blocks from the garment district in Downtown LA and have found my 'go-to' linen source. Every time I go they wonder why I only buy white, haha! I feel like I’m letting them down or something. I like to do an indigo bath and dye everything in sight. And I like to dye with onion skins and avocado pits for smaller projects.
The Japanese photographer, Yoko Takahashi, came by your studio last year and took some wonderful photos of you working in your space. Tell us a bit more about this; how did you arrive in this apartment and how does it inform or contribute to your work or workflow?
I lived over the bridge in Boyle Heights for a few years when I first moved up from Long Beach. I used to go on these long walks and would walk around down here. The building is the old Canadian Consulate and there's this really great Vietnamese restaurant on the ground floor where you could hear the punk bands playing upstairs. A lot of the old buildings downtown were being converted into lofts with fancy gyms and rooftops. This place felt like it was hanging on from another time, more authentic I guess. When a space opened up here I stopped by the showing to let them know that nothing bothers me and I would be the easiest tenant ever! I didn’t end up getting it but a couple months later they contacted me about the space upstairs. This bright light (sunlight) hit me as soon as the door opened and I knew it was for me. Windows on 3 sides and 2 skylights. Kind of perfect for the work i do..
Is Los Angeles your forever home? How do you see yourself and your work fitting into the Los Angeles design community?
I think it might be?? Who knows for sure but I love Los Angeles! I haven’t travelled a whole lot to compare, but I’ve visited a few great places. To me they often feel like islands where LA feels expansive if that makes sense. I mean it is actually expansive, but more in the feeling of it... I hope my work adds a complimentary layer to the depth of work coming out of LA.
Your apartment also serves as a workshop, a showroom, and may I say manifesto of sorts. There is so much amazing work here (drapery, pillows, upholstery, tapestries). Have your spaces always become your own world?
Yeah! I think the space itself is the most important part. There hasn’t always been a lot of money to fill it so I try my hand at making things (if only to see if I can), like my couch for example. I also got to build my kitchen here. It all tells more of the story of where I’m coming from. I’m actually securing a lease for more studio space downstairs! This current space is 14’ at its widest and I’m excited to be able to spread out with some of these larger projects we’re getting into.
Lastly, we have to ask about your cats. And, our question is: tell us more…
Sissy Spacek and Mötorhead! About 16 years ago me and my best friend got them on a whim and I ultimately ended up with both. It’s kind of funny... I work on the floor a lot and I guess I kind of trained them to walk around everything? A huge curtain can take up most of my living room and they’ll walk around the edges. They like when I’m straightening up the most because there are a lot of small scraps swaying around to catch.
Photography by Yoko Takahashi