David Okum / Feltmark
felt • a sensation given by an object or material when touched
mark • a level or stage that is considered significant
Quietly tucked away in his Lincoln Heights workshop, David Okum is conjuring up something both useful and beautiful. Making leaps from Pasadena’s prestigious Art Center to consulting behind the scenes at reputable design brands, David has firmly settled into his own with Feltmark, an interior accessories line of thoughtful pieces, unmistakably stripped down to their essential purpose. We recently had a chance to chat with David about what drives him to create these beautiful objects we love.
What originally drew you into product design and specifically ‘everyday objects’? Was there a particular event, or more of a progression?
It was a natural progression that began when I was very young. One particular event that I remember fondly is making bow and arrows from a fallen tree in our backyard when I was 7. Carving the form, drying the wood and stringing it – all without any prior knowledge on the process or ‘the right way’. That is one of the experiences that helped me to refocus my studies on product design and take my ‘play’ more seriously.
To what do you most attribute the development of your craft? Study? A mentor? Personal practice?
I strongly believe, when you find what you love to do, development and inspiration comes from everything and anything. But true understanding and transcending development can only be achieved by constant and consistent practice.
What kind of risks and challenges have you faced in getting to where you are now?
When thinking about the future of your work, what are you the most excited about?
I am most excited about putting to use the accumulated knowledge and experiences to do something that is going to be bigger than myself.
There’s been a resurgence of art appreciation in Los Angeles, especially with the new Instagram-friendly Broad Museum. Where do you think the best art in LA is to be seen?
Besides museums and galleries, the schools in and around LA are great places to see some of the best and newest works. The experience being less curated, it affords more viewer participation. Held at the end of each school semester, I would recommend Art Center and Southern California Institute of Architecture.
This is the Feltmark approach. This is David’s pursuit. New products are patiently released one at a time; you’ll never see a barrage of designs tossed out casually to the world. Every piece is carefully constructed and finished by hand in his workshop, harmonizing elements of wood or metal to address the presence (or absence) of light. It’s all how you look at it.