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Two Collections: Jack Spade + JP Williams

A sense of what has come before influences everything we do. It’s what inspires us to collect objects of simple, purposeful design that withstand time so well. We hold ourselves to this standard as we strive to create thoughtful items that have a clear reason for being.

For Fall 2011 we had the privilege of designing a collection with the master tailors of Southwick.

We gave their authentic American style a modern interpretation without abandoning the classic natural shoulder for which they are known. Each piece is made in Southwick’s Massachusetts factory with the same traditions of quality and craftsmanship they have been upholding since 1929.

 

Studio Still Life 

 

JP Williams is a New York art director, co-founder of design mw and creator of “amassblog.”

His charming demeanor is positively Southern, but his keen eye for detail reflects his time studying under Paul Rand at Yale, and designing projects for companies such as Takashimaya and Büttenpapierfabrik Gmund.

JP is consumed with collecting well-designed objects, from vintage letterheads and playing cards to spools of industrial string and lost gloves. “amassblog” is a testament to the scope of his collections and his unusual eye. We asked JP to wear our fall Southwick collection and to share some of his. We hope you enjoy them all.

 

Doyle Wool Suit (pants shown) $1395, Polk Hopsack Blazer $995, Sweeney Oxford Shirt $195 

 

JP Williams on his collections:

Amassing seems to happen without intention. Then awareness enters in, bringing intention and then more amassing.

There was definitely intention when I started “amassblog”: it was to remember what I had forgotten and share it with others. Over the years, on my travels, I discovered that discovery itself was exciting and rewarding. The possibility of walking into a hardware store in Bali and discovering a ball of twine was more interesting than I had ever realized. The purchase of that ball of twine led to the purchase of another, then another, from wherever I traveled. Often I returned home to find the same ball of twine already on my shelf.

 

Twine & Ivory Balls

 

It was the shape, the form, the color; the idea that a simple object could have such interesting variety.

Form seems to win out when walking the flea markets or yard sales. Over the years, spying that recurring object—especially at the right price—has compelled me to add to my growing collections. Five small multi-colored balls, perfect orbs in a card- board box—three cream, one blue and one red—reminded me of the opening credits of To Kill a Mockingbird, when Scout sifts through the contents of a cigar box. Upon further examination, the pale ones turned out to be ivory. And thus a collection was born.

 

Cloud Sleeping

 

Stapleton Wool Topcoat $1295

 

Boatman’s Curves & Pumpkin Stems 

 

Doyle Wool Suit $1395, Cone Pencil Stripe Shirt $195

 

A collection often begins with just one object. Others present themselves complete, and I only add to them on a rare occasion.

Halloween prompted the start of one of my collections: dried pumpkin stems. I never thought much about Halloween once I reached adulthood, but having a child and the new ritual of pumpkin-carving made me take a second look at these natural forms.

Now, selecting the annual pumpkin means not only looking for the perfect shape, but for the right stem. Their gnarled beauty inspired me to cast one in bronze, to freeze its organic beauty in a material usually reserved for fine sculpture. Don’t they contrast nicely with my collection of shipbuilder’s curves? Dozens upon dozens of mysterious shapes. To the educated designer each of these shapes must reveal its necessary purpose. Sadly, that’s lost on their current owner.

 

Theodore Wool Herringbone Blazer $995, Sherman Stripe Oxford Shirt $195 

 

Steiff Collection & Shoes

 

As I’ve mentioned on my blog, and as many people will remember from Bill Murray’s eloquent speech in Lost in Translation,

“When you have a child, life as you know it is over.”

You wind up framing so many images from your life. Of course I thought my child needed a collection of Steiff stuffed animals. I had mine and I wanted her to have hers. They mean more to me though, so it’s I who pick up the odd stray from time to time. I often consider and contemplate what it means to collect, but sometimes I lose sight of what’s right in front of me. It was like opening a present to see this photograph of my shoes. It had never occurred to me that they were an actual collection. My father had fifty-six pairs of shoes when he died. His were proper brogues, all polished to a mirror shine. Too bad he was size nine. I’m an eight.

 

Gibson Micro-Check Shirt $195

 

Calligraphy Pens

 

Hopsack Blazer $995, Sherman Stripe Oxford Shirt $195

 

It is the odd and unusual that attracts so many of us, and I am no different. When we’re not overlooking it, the familiar can be reassuringly comfortable. Being a designer and a lover of all things related to type, letters and handwriting, I am drawn to the utensils required for making these forms. Even the word “letterform” refers to its sculptural quality, although it just lies quietly on the paper. How lovely it was to run across this superb collection of calligraphy pens. Each is as detailed as I imagine were the letters that flowed from them. I can’t claim the skill to write like these wonderful examples I collect, but at least I am now prepared with the proper instruments.

I have always believed in having the right tools.

In high school shop I learned the proper methods to make musical instruments. Used correctly, the right tool will always produce the best results. And building a dulcimer is certainly a fantastic way to learn about life. I think it this notion of having the right tools that draws me to them in all their simplicity and infinite variety: the twine balls, the staplers, the pencil sharpeners. Each one functions just as well as the next, but I am drawn in by the seductive nature of form. I am nourished by the idea that there is always another around the next corner. Let’s hope there is.

 

Pencil Sharpeners

 

Eisley Flannel Suit (pants shown) $1495

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