THOUGHTFUL GIFTS FOR FATHER’S DAY

THOUGHTFUL GIFTS FOR FATHER’S DAY BY LEYDEN LEWIS

We spent time in conversation with A-list Interior Designer Leyden Lewis to get his take on thoughtful gifts for Father’s Day. Leyden’s aesthetic and design approach draws from his Caribbean heritage (his parents are from Trinidad and Tobago), urban sophistication, and classical European Modernism. Here’s our conversation with Leyden Lewis, Interior Designer and Principal of Leyden Lewis Design Studio in Brooklyn, New York.

Credit: Leyden Lewis

WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORIES WITH YOUR FATHER?

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER QUALITIES OF A STRONG FATHER?

Leyden Lewis: Black queer men tell me about the absence of their fathers and l feel very lucky that is not my story. My dad, Lionel Lewis, is an artist at the core with a talent for drawing and expression. He’s very focused on the mind, body and spirit. He exposed me to art at a very early age. When he had to work, he would typically drop me off at the Met Museum or at the Brooklyn Museum. Both museums had Saturday children’s programs. This was in the late 70’s and early 80’s and he had to work on Saturdays. He would say something along the lines of “I’m leaving you in the Greek wing of the museum, when I return I need to see these drawings”.

He was very athletic but his parenting style was to push me towards my tendencies. Going to the aquarium, movies, the park -- those were my tasks. If I sang I couldn't sing loud enough.

Credit: Painting by Lionel Lewis

TELL US ABOUT SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR THOUGHTFUL GIFTS FOR FATHER’S DAY?

Leyden Lewis: I recently went on a trip to Khartoum, Sudan to visit the potential sites for the future administrative building structure which I am designing for the Abdel-Rahman Foundation for Education, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support the continued education of girls and young women between the ages of 14 and 21. I had never visited a place like Khatoum in a country like Sudan. I felt less hungry, less impulsive. I was surrounded by people who looked like me. I realized how all my coping mechanisms in the U.S. have to do with low levels of anxiety. In Sudan I did not feel that I was being constantly profiled, that I had to be conscious about every move I made.

It’s not like that in the U.S.; it’s an extra layer to my job to consistently advocate for the lack of representation in this industry. I’d love nothing more than to be recognized for my beautiful work in the design space, period. It seems quite backwards, the way things are, and it is exhausting and nonsensical. I am a part of the Black Artist + Designers Guild ("BADG") which was founded by Malene Barnett, and for such a strong and prominent group of artists, designers and makers, we persistently show up to represent Black culture and design in order to remind our industry that they continue to exclude versus include.

I know some of my colleagues at BADG have their beautiful creations on 54kibo, including Lisa Hunt’s gold motif wall art, Royal Palm Repeat Print, for example, and Baughaus’ Jamaican-inspired ceramics collections which truly brighten and liven up a dinner table. Pieces such as the Sand Dollar Coasters, Salt and Pepper Shakers, and the Sea Biscuit Appetizer Plates and Bowls can make for great gifts for a family or even for Father’s Day - especially for a dad who loves to enjoy food with good company.

MORE ABOUT LEYDEN LEWIS

Credit: Leyden Lewis

Up Next: Our Father’s Day conversation with Ethiopian Furniture Maker Jomo Tariku.

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