Chaparral Studio started with beautiful and playful terrariums, and expanded to include a variety of products, each with a feeling of positivity and a sense of place.
Bianca D’Amico is one of the minds behind Chaparral Studio, and after our collaboration we wanted to chat with her to hear more of her story.
Bianca D’Amico. All images provided by Chaparral Studio.
Where did the name Chaparral Studio come from?
My work borrows and tangles its self deeply in the culture of the state of California. My home state. My home. Not only do I utilize and work with plants both native and imported, but I also like to flirt with California-centric culture. I feel that inspiration of both culture and landscape is translated in all of our work.
The word chaparral is the name of the vegetation, a type of landscape that is prominent here in California. And to seal the deal, the origin of the word is basque, meaning small, which only made it more evident that this was our name. My grandmother is basque, we make small things, we are deeply rooted and transformed by our surroundings - thus we are Chaparral Studio!
Maite Quílez D’Amico, Bianca’s mother and business partner.
You collaborate with your mother, Maite Quílez D’Amico, and something that stood out to me is among the places she’s lived, that list includes Spain and South America. You both now reside in Los Angeles. How would you say that perspective and partnership has impacted your work?
She is my partner in all things garden design - another side of what Chaparral Studio does. In collaboration, my mother and I design gardens both big and small, indoors and outdoors, for residents and business alike. She is clearly shaped by her travels and adventures which are many. And she is by far one of my favorite people to be creative with. She is the shit!
How would you describe your style?
My style is an echo of my loud, radiant, and eclectic family filtered through a road trippin’, truck drivin’ gypsy who paid a great deal of money to go to art school twice for both undergrad and grad. I like to keep my doors open to all kinds of styles, overthink it, feel feelings and ultimately use a lot of natural light, puppy paws, plants, and a little subversive twist as needed.
Chaparral Studio has collaborated with companies from Disney to Warby Parker to Cartier - but your work has always retained a very independent style and natural feel. How have you been able to balance the two?
We have been so lucky that our clients who seek us out are interested in what we do and want a slice. Much like having someone over for dinner, you make them your best dish, set the table and enjoy the twinkle of the lights, sweet tunes, and good conversation. The night results in laughter and gratitude, all under the canopy of your backyard tree. We like to keep our creative relationships warm and inviting.
Balance Bar Necklace by Chaparral Studio
How have events like craft fairs and pop-up shops been important to your business?
Craft fairs and pop-ups are wonderful for meeting folks in the flesh! Being able to high five and recognize we are all living breathing humans behind the things we make. I love the opportunity to meet people that perhaps have followed along with our journey on Instagram or vice versa.
It’s wonderful to see all the other makers, doers, and shakers that run and sell at these events, too. We are such a special community who support each other and share in the same sacrifice and privilege to make a living by way of things we love. It’s a funny kind of life that is not so glamorous at times and full of challenges but when you witness the creative energy at a fair like West Coast Craft (my personal favorite) you cannot deny that there is a movement going on and I feel sooooo lucky to be a part of it.
Is there a dream project that you want to work on?
Dream project is a BIG studio. I want to rehab an old auto body shop or barn with tall ceilings. Something with character and a bit industrial with plenty of yard space so that I could host fellow artists and the likes. Thinking like a blend between the television show Taxi, Arcosanti in Arizona, and Andy Warhol’s Factory. It’s gotta have a green roof, a slide, swings, lots of tools, dogs everywhere, enough space to workshop projects both big and small - oh, and a long dinner table in the backyard for those nights where you can dine, and then walk down it like a catwalk. You said DREAM project right? Yeah. That is my dream.
Vibes / Large Brass Keychain by Chaparral Studio
What’s your process look like for starting on a new piece? Do you pick the materials first, are you sketching things out on paper, or something else?
It really depends on the project. It is case by case. But usually talking it out is my go-to followed by notes and doodles that can only be decoded by my mother and myself.
What inspires you to make art?
When I was in undergrad at Otis College of Art and Design my professor Meg Cranston (great artist by the way!) gave us a quiz. We were asked why we wanted to make art. Fun was one of the options. Almost no one picked it. I did.
I am inspired by many things, but ultimately what keeps my head in the game is that I love to live a life that is full of fun and pleasure. That is a huge priority for me. I want to sustain a life that is about being present and open to all the textures, colors, sounds, and rhythms that surround me and to be able to utilize them as tools to develop money in the bank. I’m indulgent, but I think that has worked to my benefit in that it kicks you into hyper survivalist mode. I have to maintain my practice by doing what makes me feel awake and challenged and doing it with all of my heart.
My friend Makesmith Leather Goods has this quote on his Instagram that says “This is not a portfolio, this is my life.” I too find that the lines between my work and life are very blurry on purpose. Life and work crash into each other constantly - much like the ocean waves.
Feminist / Small Brass Keychain by Chaparral Studio
You can follow Chaparral Studio on Instagram and Facebook to see all their latest work and to find out if they ever build that dream studio. Browse their store to get your own unique creation, or head to the Big Cartel shop to pick up the limited edition Go Get ‘Em keychain before they’re gone.