BAZAZAS was founded by Scarlett Boulting of opus and Mary Voorhees Meehan—designers with backgrounds in architecture, fashion, and graphic design—who share an interest in making objects that transform the way we perform daily life. BAZAZAS sees improvisation everywhere, even in the most established procedures. There is a makeshift aspect to all tools. And it is here, in this awkward, taken-for-granted place, that BAZAZAS is rooted.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do? We are both designers, excited by how the things we use tell stories about the way we live. We enjoy finding new efficiencies and strange kinships in and among objects we encounter. (We are also hoping to do more fabricating of our own in the near future.) We see improvisation everywhere, even in the most established procedures. There is a makeshift aspect to all tools. And it is this awkward, taken-for-granted place that gets us going. We also design and style for others, and host events and pop-up shops as much as we can.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Our shop, Bazazas.com, is going through a growth spurt. Over the summer we did the prop styling for the Herman Miller Collections Catalog—a totally amazing adventure. Next we’re working with the Swiss Institute in Manhattan to create a reading room installation for Design Week. We also recently participated in Medium Cool’s booth at EXPO in Chicago at the end of September. And then we’ll be having a holiday market in Brooklyn, with both adults and kids in mind.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Mary: I’d say it’s the same things as always: These little problems that bubble up in daily life that beg to be resolved. Today my daughter discovered that her plastic pirate figurine, already purposefully armless, had lost a leg. I offered to make her a prosthesis and it got me thinking how many things in our apartment could use prostheses. Maybe all of our limes are missing a limb.
Scarlett: Yes! Like Mary I think my most driving influence is what I need. I need a bed and a dresser and I’ve been looking around, thinking about what is out there and what I want to create instead. At the same time I’m also processing subconscious influences coming in from all directions as we work on other projects. I’m realizing that first I have to make and find smaller objects that have that same aura, that help me peel away the unnecessary bologna, until, eventually, I can make myself the perfect bed and dresser (fingers crossed).
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? Scarlett: I would love to collaborate with Ryan Gander to make his lamps for our customers. We’d also like to partner with large companies to create items to fill the holes we see in the market. Mary: Ideas abound. It WOULD be really great to work with some big companies. It would be amazing to have access to their fabrication capacities. Likewise, I’d love to work with some neighborhood kids to have access to their fabrication capacities.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? Mary: Weather.com, Craigslist, and Kayak. I’m practical, though I do often forget to check the weather. I love a good Craigslist hunt. And I am always buying plane tickets.
Scarlett: My computer says the websites I visit most are New York Times, Gmail, and PayPal if you want to know the boring truth. But I think my favorites are Bazazas.com and YouTube, which I’m positive was invented to halt human productivity.
How has living in Brooklyn affected your work? It’s hard to measure how living in Brooklyn affects our work. We are plugged into a strong community of artists and designers here. Being here also means that we are not elsewhere. For Scarlett, that’s Florida, Massachusetts, and France. For Mary that’s Texas (Austin), Arkansas, and New Mexico. We are really influenced by where we came up, and somehow being at a remove from those places makes it easier (makes it possible even) to describe and extract from them.
If you were a drink what drink would you be? Mary: Five Alive.
Scarlett: I’m probably Ovaltine. I grew up drinking it. When I was a kid, I could easily drink a gallon of milk with Ovaltine and skip dinner, but I’m actually allergic to it now. How fitting. Also, I recently discovered it’s Swiss and in Switzerland it’s called Ovalmaltine and it has little gross bits of fiber in it.
How long have you lived in Brooklyn and what brought you there? Mary: I decided to move to the big city after college, in 2003. I’d just graduated from Princeton with a Bachelor’s degree in architecture and so I was already living in the northeast. I figured if I moved back to Austin, I’d never live here. I worked for an architecture firm for three years, met my now husband, went back to grad school at the Yale School of Art, married my husband, and then realized I actually lived here. I retain my Texas driver’s license though.
Scarlett: I moved here after graduating from RISD eight years ago. I did fashion design back then.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your work? Scarlett: I want them to walk away thinking every item you live with can be enriching to your day-to-day experience and that buying expendable stuff is digging your brain a grave.
Mary: Feeling something, anything.
What were you like in high school? Mary: I was an athlete (track, soccer, cross country, volleyball) and an honor student with a hippy dippy flare. I had hair down to my waist, drove a 1983 Volvo, subsisted on mostly vegetables, and bombed around Austin half nude half the time (much to my socialite mother’s chagrin).
Scarlett: I was a raver and then a club kid on Miami Beach. I worked for a famous club owner when I was 14 and 15. I remember it being like a small town of kids having fun, probably too much fun. Later, I asked to go to boarding school to finish high school. It was the 90’s. It was different.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? Mary: Probably at home, with my nose in my sketchbook. Or scribbling notes as I read a New Yorker article. Or maybe at the park with my almost three-year-old.
Scarlett: Both Mary and I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn and love it especially because of Prospect Park. I might say I hope I always have three things in life, a home in close proximity to Prospect Park, my husband Ryan, and our dog, Heathcliff.