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    Mikel

    08 Jul 2020

    Text by Mikel

    ØLÅF Citizens: Karl Cyprien

    08 Jul 2020

    If everything in your life is orange, you wear the coolest sunglasses, travel the world, and dig the grooviest mid-century interior pieces, you might come close to living life “à la KC”. Karl Cyprien is the Managing Director at Daniel Arsham Studio and one of the people behind sunglasses brand Port Tanger. Based in New York, Karl has experience as a creative strategist for some of the world’s biggest brands (among which Uniqlo, Pat McGrath, and Shiseido). Under normal circumstances, Karl would be traveling between China and New York to manage the marketing, sales strategy, and production for Daniel Arsham. Now Karl is living à la KC in his hometown of Brooklyn, NY.”


    Hi Karl, please tell me, what is life “à la KC”?

    “Kind of measured,. I’d say that I’m a routined person. I pray and I read to start the day. But there is also a lot of flexibility. Connecting with people, connecting with art. Putting my body and mind first. “A La” is French for “in the manner of,” so it’s really about a strong emphasis on what I love and being true to myself."

     

    That involves a lot of Orange, where does the fascination for that color come from?

    “It’s really just my happy color. It’s a color that pops, adds something to every situation or outfit. I had a natural gravitation towards it since five years ago, now it’s almost like a branding tool in the sense that people might think about me when they see orange.”

    PORT TANGER, lookbook.
    It’s funny that you have such an obsession with color, and work with a guy like Daniel Arsham (whose art is mostly white because of his color blindness).

    “Very, haha. Typically, I wear a lot of muted colors. But orange is the pop in my life. I like to think it’s my influence that he’s also starting to wear orange."

     

    Karl Cyprien.

     

    You should visit Amsterdam during Kingsday.

    “I really would love to go to Amsterdam during Kingsday! I’ve been to Amsterdam once before, but I was only there for 8 hours because I was passing through from Paris. Amsterdam is great though, it really did something for me. I have a lot of Dutch friends, among whom Olaf Hussein and Hussein from Daily Paper.”

     

    Where does that connection between Amsterdam and New York come from, you think?

    “Both cities are very creative, and a lot of people from Amsterdam come to New York. Brands like Olaf Hussein, Daily Paper, Patta, MENDO, those are internationally respected brands that reach far beyond the Dutch borders. The community is just amazing.”

     

     

    Both cities are very international, and you seem to fit seamlessly in that international identity. How did you end up in New York?

    “I was born in Brooklyn, but my family is from Haiti. Haitians are very resilient people. It was the first Black republic to gain independence in 1804. If you come across a Haitian, you’ll find someone who's very positive and resilient. People that have been through a lot historically, but are always able to persevere and appreciate the simple joys of life.”

     

    That matches that “New York tough” they always talk about.

    “Exactly! I have lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and I don’t really see myself anywhere else. I think I thrive off the madness. Everywhere else is too slow for me. New York brings that friction in your day-to-day. It’s a fast-paced environment, and there’s always a challenge.”

     

    What are the challenges you had to face?

    “Well, if you look at recent news, I think it’s kind of evident. I’m a strategist by trade, I went to business school and studied finance. Those are environments that have not been very open to black people. Through that path, I fell to consulting and strategy in different industries, and even the coolest brands in New York are not that diverse at senior levels. These industries have been closed off to other minds. And bringing in new perspectives, specifically from the black community, is needed.”

     

    UNIQLO X KAWS. UNIQLO X JWA.

     

    How do you think we could change that?

    “Breaking the barrier of how you find these people. Devaluate formal education and look at interesting life paths. These are the people who should be getting the jobs. In America, people look at credentials made at high valued universities that are only available to the rich, while the majority of the consumers are not from that background. We should be breaking down the criteria. That’s how things will change. The pool of talent should be more colorful, in whatever way you want to interpret that.”

     

    That’s what’s interesting about that Amsterdam-New York connection. These are people with a variety of backgrounds and life stories.

    “Yes, that’s true. It goes from Africa to Asia, to Europe to Haiti. That’s the beauty of living in today’s world.”

     

    The sunglasses brand you work for, Port Tanger, is also based on those different life stories. How do you combine that work with being a Managing Director at Daniel Arsham?

    “It comes down to having a good team. In the beginning, I was very involved with Port Tanger. My partner Bilal Fellah is really the driving force, and I pretty much came on board to formalize the idea that he had. I did my part to bring on some talented people, but the team now is so strong that I don’t need to be super involved. The balance is pretty smooth. At Daniel Arsham, I’m formally listed as the Managing Director for his editions practices. But I also oversee collaborations and future growth in China. The last year I’ve been mostly working on exploring and catering to the Chinese market.”

    Enfants Riches Deprimes.
    Are the two comparable?

    “It’s about telling stories. Many things lately have been so surface leveled. I think people are eager to dig a bit deeper. Extract something culturally interesting. That’s what we do with Daniel’s artworks, and with Port Tanger.”

     

    We always close these interviews with a question about what has inspired you lately.

    “I’ve been in quarantine for over 12 weeks, so I’ve had the time to watch some movies. I recently saw that documentary about Miles Davis; Birth of the Cool (2019). I’m a big jazz fan, so it was an inspiring watch. The way he was able to evolve throughout his career and all the phases he’s been through was incredibly inspiring to see. He also really embraced the youth. Many jazz legends we know today were discovered by him. One part in particular that I liked about the movie was about his score for Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud (1958). He composed that score on the spot, reading off the emotion of the protagonist in the film, and translating that into music. I watched that right after I saw the documentary on Netflix. So if you have the chance, make it a double-feature.”

    03 Jan 2023

    ØLÅF CITIZENS: GLORIA LANDENBERGER

    03 Jan 2023

    Gloria Landenberger is an Amsterdam-based designer, creative director, ceramicist, and the founder of the interior label 2222STUDIO. Firmly rooted in fashion and interior you’ll always find her shifting between both worlds. From leading the creative direction of a German fashion and interior brand to creating one-of-a-kind sculptural works in her studio, her projects all arise from the same creative drive and vision.

     

    How did you get into fashion?

    “I studied industrial and fashion design in Berlin and Paris. Since then I’ve worked for over a decade as designer, design manager and creative director for a variety of European fashion brands. And since a couple of years as creative director for a brand in Berlin."

     

    What motivated you to make the transition from fashion into ceramics?

    “After working nonstop in the fashion industry, I was longing to take my creativity out from behind a corporate computer and create something with my own hands which led me to experiment with clay. It initially just started off as some sort of meditational practice and developed over time into my passion and second business."

     

     

    Tell us about 22_22 studio.

    “As I had only worked for other people's companies, I eventually felt the urge to create a brand that would represent my own aesthetics and values that would help enable me to share what inspired me personally. Therefore, I decided to merge this idea with my passion for crafts and interior and started my own brand 2222STUDIO under which I design, make and sell interior objects. 2222STUDIO was inspired by my lucky number and time 22:22. Since I was a teenager, I have been superstitious about it and believed that catching this time over and over was no coincidence. I always felt compelled to make wishes for a whole minute until this magic alignment of numbers passed. "

     

    Advice you would give to someone who is interested in starting their own business.

    “Just do it! I believe that it’s important to start somewhere with a vision and then figure things out along the way. Too much overthinking and doubting upfront will just block you. "

    What do you feel is the best part of your job?

    “That it's so versatile, creative, and that I am independent."

     

    3 words that best describe your creative process.

    “Intuitive, meditative and passionate."

     

     

    Favorite song to listen to when you’re working in your studio?

    "Okwukwe Na Nchekwube by Celestine Ukwu & his Philosophers"

     

    Name a personal achievement you’re proud of.

    “Following and building a career for myself that reflects what I am passionate about."

     

    Name a mistake that taught you a lesson.

    “Taking on an order that exceeded my capacity and really challenged my entire setup."

     

    Your top 3 travel destinations. Dream vacation.

    “Mexico, Japan, Venice."

     

    Describe your personal style.

    “Minimal and eclectic."

     

    The one thing in your wardrobe you can’t live without.

    "All my Jackets and coats."

     

    Name a person, place, or thing that inspires you.

    "I really like the work of Alicja Kwade. But my brain just picks up on everything that I see around me. It could be super and abstract, light, textures, shapes."