Designer Kiel Mead gives a colorful new life to wood that has washed ashore
Plucked from the Great Lakes beaches of New York state, each of Kiel Mead's wall-mounted driftwood hooks marks a unique expression of his dedication to craft. Mead personally selects, bleaches and stains the hooks individually, telling Cool Hunting that because the approach is so extensive, every piece is like a little labor of love and, consequently, an unforgettable form. "There are several steps to the process so I end up touching each hook about 10-12 times," says Mead. "During that process I get to know each one personally. It's sort of silly but I end up picking favorites and imagining where each one will end up. The ones that truly become my favorite don't ever leave my studio."
Mead is forever toying with common objects, and some of his most beloved designs reflect this aspect. The American Design Club founder pioneered the movement in accessories to cast everyday items like bubble gum, drill bits and retainers in materials like brass, gold and silver. "I came up with the driftwood hooks simply by running a color experiment in my studio," he points out. "I had a pile of driftwood that I had been collecting for a few months and I just started to stain the pieces these really great vibrant colors. It was never supposed to be anything. I feel like some of my favorite designs happen purely by accident."
Mead, who grew up in a town on Lake Erie in western New York, has also always had a "love affair" with driftwood. "We used to collect the most interesting looking pieces and display them on the porch or in my mom's gardens," he says. This project centers on his fascination with the contours of each piece. "Although there is nothing genius about a hook on the wall, I think what made me keep doing the hooks and actually giving them life as a product has to do with how each one is so different from the next," reflects Mead. As a consumer I really appreciate a product like this because it is so personal and one-of-a-kind."
Stained in 10 different hues, the driftwood hooks are between 7-12 inches in size and sell from Areaware for $25 each. A limited number of hooks will also hit Anthropologie stores this spring, a development Mead is excited about—after all, coming across the hooks in shop, he tells us, will be like reconnecting with an old friend.