Husband and wife bring new perspective to design
Silvercocoon : Husband and wife bring new perspective to design
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We try to do that as much as possible, as much as our skill allows us to, and each project gives you new skills.
“I had this dream of owning a little shop where I could make stuff in one half, and sell things in the front,” Tia Salmela Keobounpheng said. “When we sat down and really talked through the day-to-day of it, we kind of concluded that it would tie us down too much.”
The jewelry maker and her husband, architect Souliyahn Keobounpheng, needed an outlet for their various design projects, but a brick-and-mortar shop felt a little too permanent. Which is how they ended up buying a 1966 Airstream Safari trailer to use as a mobile art gallery.
Thirteen years later, Silvercocoon’s namesake trailer is more of a mascot than a regular work space for the designers, whose need for flexibility has only increased.
“We offer design services,” Tia explains. “It can be anywhere from a new house to a renovation to an interior wood wall installation. Art and stuff like that. And then I design and sell jewelry.”
“I’ve been doing a lot of smaller built elements,” Souliyahn added. “Some of that involves furniture. Some of it involves fences, decks or whole cabins.”
Fences and necklaces may not seem that closely related, but they’re connected by the driving force behind every designer: to improve people’s lives.
“I worked for Ikea,” Tia said, “and their mission is to improve everyday lives by offering furniture at prices so low that as many people as possible can afford them. I still remember it because I could believe in that. With Silvercocoon jewelry, I’m empowering women to feel better about themselves.”
“For me, it’s about enhancing value of life, quality of life in the home,” Souliyahn said.
While they have different approaches artistically, the couple shares the belief that the work shouldn’t end with the design. Souliyahn and Tia do as much of the fabrication and installation as they can.
“We try to do that as much as possible, as much as our skill allows us to, and each project gives you new skills,” said Souliyahn, who does light construction, something few architects attempt.
Anyone who’s had to learn a new skill while on the job knows that it’s not easy. It means getting outside of your comfort zone and opening yourself up to fail occasionally.
“I constantly have a voice inside my head, and it’s not just about work,” Tia said. “I think there’s a lot of pressure on people to be perfect.”
“But in some ways I think it’s what makes you do your best work, because you’re constantly challenging yourself,” Souliyahn said. “It’s your approach to this perfect end product. So in some ways it’s more like the negative voice is a positive thing. Being persistent in the face of all that negativity, I think, is where we’ve picked up skills.”
“The negative voice is a positive thing. Being persistent in the face of all that negativity, I think, is where we’ve picked up skills.”
All those newly acquired skills add up to an eclectic output, encompassing everything from a gardening shed to art installations to dangly earrings. But if it proves anything, it’s that a dream evolves with its dreamer, changing over time to incorporate new interests.
“Dreams are not easy, and they’re not finite,” Tia said. “They’re constantly moving and constantly changing. A dream is a moving target.”
“It’s good to have a goal, but also realize that if it’s so singular, you will miss [opportunities] along the way. So you have to be open,” Souliyahn said.