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Studio Visit: Electric Love

The Brooklyn space where dreamcatchers are spun from leather and feathers

by Kat Herriman in Design on 25 January 2013

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Upon walking into the Brooklyn studio of Charlie Walker and Hitomi Matarese, the husband-and-wife founders of Electric Love, you feel an almost immediate calm, either from the gentle scent of patchouli and leather wafting through the air or the rhythmic sound of hands at work. "I've lived and worked off and on in this building for about ten years. I think I've lived in every room," says Walker, looking up from the feather he is trimming. "It's a space we've grown very connected to over the years and now it is becoming a place for us to meet and work with our customers on their one of a kind dreamcatchers."

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Since its inception in 2010, Electric Love has cultivated a cult following for its bespoke dreamcatchers. Constructed by hand in the couple's Brooklyn studio, the dreamcatchers mark a labor of love for the young designers. "Originally dreamcatchers were used by Native American tribes to ward off bad spirits," says Walker. "They believed that the bad dreams would get caught and confused in the webbing of the dreamcatcher and that the good dreams would drip down into the feathers imparting good spirits on to the sleeping. From the beginning, we didn't want to create Native American replicas, but instead we wanted to use the dreamcatcher form in order to make our own kind of mythical talismans. The idea was to create something that would enable us to share positive energy."

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Matarese, an industry veteran, and Walker, a drummer, grew their business organically on commissions from their friends. After debuting in select NYC boutiques like Love Adorned, Electric Love's customer based continued to grow with increasing orders for custom mobiles. "People wanted to be part of the process, and we were happier working for customers who came to us inspired," says Walker. "Now, a large part of our business are these customized pieces."

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At the heart of each Electric Love piece is a quartz crystal, just one of the many unique materials the artists use to construct their sculptures. "Quartz crystals are supposed to be one of the most positive stones, they are also some of the most accepting of energies. We keep ours in boxes with rose and jasmine," Matarese says, opening a vintage cigar box lined with the small, opaque stones. "The crystals soak up the positive energy and then are able to spread it to others."

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Matarese and Walker remain strictly conscious of their materials, constructing their dreamcatchers from 100% animal bi-products (read: non-synthetic), so no two pieces are ever the same. For leather, the couple looks to a group of small deer tanneries located upstate and clandestine back-stock stores located around Manhattan. The feathers they source from a number of places. "We use mainly turkey feathers," says Matarese. "When we first started, I was surprised by how much variation there was even just in a turkey's plumes. Each one is beautiful in its own way."

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Banded together, Electric Love's carefully chosen materials become spidery, mystic mobiles that can hang from the ceiling or the wall. Pieces are available for purchase online priced between $300-600 depending on size. To coordinate a custom dreamcatcher, contact the designers through their website.

Images by Kat Herriman

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