Makr, American Design Studio that makes canvas bags, furniture and leather accessories.

Interview with Jason Gregory, Founder of Design Studio Makr

About Jason Gregory

Jason Gregory is a designer and maker based out of Florida, an individual that’s always been inspired by the creative process. He has a passion for materials and craftsmanship, appreciating products that are created with thoughtfulness and care.

Interview date: 13th of June, 2011

Introduction

Jason Gregory is the founder and owner of Makr. A project that began early 2005, which originally saw him producing a small run of handmade bags and accessories, quickly became a full-time commitment. Jason decided he wanted to branch out and make considered everyday items and objects, including furnitures and tableware. Not only were these designs going to be based on traditional classic design, he wanted to make sure everything was stripped down and essential.

Not only do they design all of their own products at the Makr studio in Winter Park, Florida, they also produce all of their hand-sewn small goods in house. It’s this appreciation for simplicity and the pursuit for quality that initially attracted us to the company, and we’ve stuck with them ever since.

We thought it would be interesting to catch up with Jason Gregory, discussing the brand, what inspires him, and also what happens daily in the studio. We’ve also included some nice photography that shows the artisans at work and a glimpse inside the workshop. Feel free to check out our selection in the shop.

Jason Gregory with his dog in the Makr Studio.
Jason Gregory with his dog in the Makr Studio. The blackboard behind being a place for idea generation and random thoughts.

1. Firstly, could you explain a little bit about yourself and how Makr came about?

I’ve always been a designer and a maker of things. I’ve also always been fascinated by materials and craftsmanship, but more than anything else, I appreciate products created with thoughtfulness and care. I began Makr as a side project while working in architectural branding but it quickly became my primary passion as well as my career.

Makr, Stitching Leather Goods by Hand.
All products are hand stitched at the Makr workshop in Winter Park, Florida.

3. It seems like it was originally a side project that you experimented with, do you now work on it full time? Also, can you remember what your first batch of products were like? Did it take a while to iron out all the creases and get a product that was retail worthy?

It’s fair to say that Makr demands far more of my time than “full time” implies. I remember the first products well. I was exploring completely new territory – using CAD to pattern and a laser etcher to actually cut the leather. Technology offers seemingly limitless possibilities for a designer so it did take a while for me to hone-in on exactly how to best leverage it. At the same time, it takes a while to make any good product retail-ready. I still spend months, and in some cases over a year, developing a new product.

“If you want to create a product that has value, there are no shortcuts.”

Cutting a piece of sweet gum wood in the Makr workshop.
Cutting a piece of sweet gum wood in the workshop, which will be turned in to a dish to make their popular ‘Plate Hook’.

6. Who and what inspires you? Any particular designers or other brands that make products?

People that live their life in a beautiful and unique way. I try to make products that can live with strong personalities. I want the product to seem like it should just be there, something that’s not competing with the owner. There are certainly some products out there that get me excited though I try to find inspiration from people rather than products.

Sweet Gum Wood Dishes for Hook Plate Makr employees at the workshop cutting the dishes.

8. I know from being a subscriber to your blog that you’re in the process of patterning some new pieces. Any new items that you’re really proud of?

There is a messenger that I was working on for quite a while that turned out well. There were quite a few new methods of construction that I wanted to include as well as some interesting contouring. The camera bag/satchel that was just released is another solid build. I must have drawn that thing 100 times, slight little changes to get it the correct proportions. It’s our most complicated build as far as putting the object together. Lots of “you have to do this before you do that” kind of stuff. I really like the end result – it’s really functional and proportionately sound. The Bottle Key is another great new product. I also really like the new colorway of the Skate Deck – you really have to see it in person.

A dish cut and finished by hand.
A dish cut and finished by hand, making sure each piece is well-crafted and has and abundance of character.

10. Whats an average day in the studio?

My time is mainly divided between designing in CAD, prototyping, and coordinating with vendors. When I get frustrated or feel spent, I still try and be productive by reading or photo-gazing online. Lunch is also important, no kidding. I am a big believer in good food so we try and make time for a decent meal every day.

Owner Jason Gregory on the sewing machine.
Owner Jason Gregory on the sewing machine, still working on all aspects of the studio and making sure quality is of the highest standard possible.