In Their Element: Kristen Shearon

I'm so excited to finally share the second installment of the "In Their Element" series I've been working on to feature artists and the spaces they create in.  If you didn't catch my first installment of this series back in January, you can view it here

Today I'm sharing photos of the workspace of Kristen Shearon of Havok Designs.  My husband and I first saw her work at one of the Vintage Charlotte pop-up markets a few years ago.  Since then, we have purchased a few of her pieces and I really love her style and how unique her designs are, so I am so excited to be able to include her in this series!  Without further adieu, I'll let Kristen introduce Havok Designs and her studio: 

Tell me a little bit about Havok Designs!

Havok Designs specializes in laser cut wooden jewelry, cork wallets, home décor and custom work. Havok happens in the space between the before and after. It's the process, the metamorphosis from something raw to something refined. At Havok, we believe there to be a strong connection between humans and wood: that it’s a part of our history and our foundation as people. Our ancestors built houses, bridges, furniture and tools out of it. Our products represent this innate connection and maintain the relationship between the two.

How did Havok Designs come to be?  Were you first drawn to wood as a medium or jewelry and fashion accessories as the product, or did they always go hand-in-hand to you? 

I had recently graduated from college with my art & design degree and knew that I wanted to start a company and work for myself. My husband's hobby was CNC woodworking at the time, which wasn't always congruent with the harsh winters of Montana, where we were living at the time. So we decided to purchase a laser engraving machine which could be used indoors. Once we started working with it, we quickly decided that wood was the preferred material choice, and the designs started to flow at a rushing pace. I was quickly surprised at how many of my initial designs were jewelry and accessory items as that type of design was something that I had never done before. But it just seemed to make sense, and since it all came organically, we just went with it!

Not a lot of people are familiar with the process of making laser cut pieces. What is that process in a nutshell, because I know after visiting your studio that it is so much more involved than it looks!    

It’s a lot of technical stuff mixed with graphic design stuff. But the first step is to create a design and then digitally convert that design using computer software to best communicate with the laser engraver. Once the design is converted and sent over the laser software, you input the correct settings to tell the laser to either engrave or cut for each layer, line, or shape, insert your material and line it up properly inside the machine, and press go. The laser uses that information to engrave and cut out your design from your preferred material. And that’s it!

You said one of your most popular pieces is the origami cranes.  What was the inspiration behind those?     

My husband and I had watched a really great documentary on origami and the art of paper folding, and one of the people being interviewed said something that really stuck with me. He said that when you fold a piece of paper, you in effect change the memory of the paper itself. I couldn’t get that whole idea out of my head and I started drawing origami cranes in various parts of flight over and over. We had just gotten the laser engraving machine so they ended up  being the very first things that we ever designed and cut out for Havok Designs. And though the size and quality of the cranes we make now are way above what the first set was, we still like to keep it on our fridge as a reminder of our very humble beginnings as a company.

What do you love the most about your studio space and how have you made it an inspiring place to create in?    

My main goal when creating this space was to maximize organization. The last studio spaces consisted of makeshift furniture we built out of leftover lumber from a barn when we were living in Montana and there was absolutely zero storage! The wood, shipping materials, and packaging were everywhere making it a really distracting place to work. So when moving into this new space, I wanted it to be clean and uncluttered so that work would come more easily without a bunch of interference around. It’s also a small space so functionality was at the forefront of my mind as well when designing this space. So I chose IKEA pieces that work well together, provide maximum storage, and can be hidden within each other. The cabinets are on wheels, can work as extra work tables, and also can slide underneath my larger, longer desks and workstations when not being used. They also hold all of the wood, acrylic, card stock, and inventory within their drawers so everything has a home keeping the clutter to a minimum. Another thing that I love is that everything is white and it’s easy to add pops of color with artwork, plants, and our wall hanging designs. I’m constantly moving things around on my walls on a whim to freshen up the space when my mind needs it to happen.

I love that your work is so versatile, that it’s not just restricted to jewelry but also functional pieces like bags, clutches, iPad sleeves, and home accessories. What are some new designs + ideas you have in mind for future products?  

We are really on a home decor kick right now and are also loving layering various natural materials together. So for instance, we’re doing more layering of the cork fabric with wood to create jewelry pieces with cork fringe hanging from wood pieces and handbags with wood handles and cork fabric bodies. Along with that, we are also doing some layering with smaller pieces like quartz crystals, black tourmaline, and other stones adhered to the tops of wood rings for a really unique statement. Since we use all natural materials, we are always looking for ways to highlight their innate beauty which continues to allow each piece to be distinctive in its colors, grain, and characteristics. The main goal is to continue to create functional, beautiful products that stand out from the crowd and look beautiful on you or in your home.   

To keep up with Kristen and her projects (and to see when Havok Designs is doing pop-up shops!), you can follow her on instagram: @havokdesigns