• in the studio
    IN THE STUDIO WITH BRIT KLEINMAN OF AVO
    The Brooklyn-based designer shares the process and inspiration behind her series of hand-painted leather goods.
    January 28, 2015  |  BY TARIQ DIXON
    Brit Kleinman, founder of the Brooklyn-based design studio AVO, describes her approach to design as "anthropological." An avid traveler and an even more active observer, Brit has long been intrigued by the relationship between objects and culture - “the ingenious ways that people find different solutions to similar problems.”

    This fascination led to Industrial Design studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, and eventual posts at Samsonite, Timberland and most recently as the Head Bag Designer for Jack Spade. Meanwhile, Brit's curiosities inspired a series of personal projects, including a library of photos comparing street markets from around the world and a recent blog called “The Way We Carry” - a chronicle of varied people transporting everyday tools.
    Brit's years of experience as an accessories designer, paired with her personal pursuits, recently culminated in the launch of her own design studio, AVO. Founded with a mission to explore traditional materials in more innovative ways, her first collection is a series of beautifully hand-painted leather goods, emblazoned in bold geometric patterns, loosely inspired by the works of New Mexico's Plains Indians .

    Take a look at photos of our visit to Brit's Fort Green apartment (the original home of AVO) and shop her inspiring collection of hand-painted leather rugs and pillows.
  • What's the meaning behind the brand's name?

    It stems from a trip I took to the Chichicastenango market in Guatemala while working with textile artisans in the surrounding area. As I wandered the stalls, I happened upon a man carrying a huge sack of avocados on his back in a tiny string bag. While it was a seemingly mundane moment, it launched my fascination with looking at culture through the objects we use - how we carry things, what we eat, how we dress, what patterns represent. The word "AVO" was created to signify this memory.

  • What motivated you to leave your last job to start the brand?

    The initial seed began from a craving to design with my hands again. I find that my most creative moments are when I connect with materials and work intuitively alongside them. Having designed with leather and fabric in the accessories world, I was ready to explore how these materials could be used in a new way within the home. One of the hardest things about starting your own company is taking that first leap into the unknown. I had gotten to a point where I was experimenting with new projects on the side and starting to see a larger goal with my work. My long-time art mentor, David Limrite always says, “action quiets fear.” So I took his advice and started AVO.

  • Having designed with leather and fabric in the accessories world, I was ready to explore how these materials could be used in a new way within the home.

  • After a trip to New Mexico, I began researching the motifs of Nomadic Plains Indians, focusing on a traditional rawhide envelope called a 'parfleche.' Traditionally, they were painted with bold colors, playing with the negative space.
  • I use full grain vegetable-tanned leather from American cows, tanned in Brazil. Each hide is unique and maintains its natural texture. I love how this leather darkens and caramelizes the more you use it.
  • I hand-paint each of the rugs myself, using a water-based dye. But don't let their beauty fool you - they are meant to be stepped on, not over. They age beautifully and truly get better-looking the more you use them.
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  • shop the story
  • “The initial seed began from a craving to design with my hands again. I find that my most creative moments are when I connect with materials and work intuitively alongside them.”
    - Brit Kleinman, Founder of AVO
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