'The Great Outdoors': Katy Parkes AKA Dereks
Posted: Sep 16 2014
Katy Parkes started her company Dereks in 2013 designing and making hard wearing, good looking outdoor bags. We are delighted to have collaborated with Katy to design an exclusive bag for Nook as part of 'The Great Outdoors' for London Design Week, 2014.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background
After I had left university and spent a few years applying for jobs in the ‘creative industry’ and getting nowhere I decided to pause and pull together the things I really enjoy with the hope that a career direction would become more obvious. Making things with my hands and climbing mountains were at the top of that list. About the same time, two friends who were traveling around the world on £20 a day came to London and told me story after story. Logistically all they needed to gather their tales was a backpack, all the details they had left behind were incidental. The shift from a flat pack to a back pack life became an idea that didn’t go away.
What's the 'philosophy' behind the product?
The big idea behind Dereks is 'built to begin’; we really wanted to establish a business that would encourage an active, outdoor and adventurous lifestyle. Everything we make is built to last and not be disposable, to be functional and not be unnecessary, to look good and not be a fast trend, to be transparent and not anonymous. Something along the line of buy less and choose well.
Where do you find inspiration?
The attic at home, Dads 70’s Karrimor rucksacks (still in use), old Lego adverts, Lou Doillon, Miscellaneous Adventures, the great outdoors, Kickstarter, carpentry, anything made by hand. I am always surprised how seemingly completely unrelated things form the basis of an idea. At the moment an old Lego advert (as above) and a photo essay of a space-training centre are what I keep referring back to.
Where are your products made?
All Dereks bags are made by hand in the studio. It is great fun trying to re create the more technical elements of bags by hand, dimensions and patience are key. A great moment is when the bag transforms from being a series of one dimensional panels into a three dimensional shape. An on going process is sourcing the hardware and materials in the best way possible, we recently started using hardware that is old brass taps and door knobs repurposed into buckles in a foundry in Walsall.
What is your studio like?
The studio is the downstairs of my London flat. It is light and full of books and comfy chairs. All the work takes place on two large trestle tables. I would love to have a space outside of home but any way of keeping costs low when you are starting out is very important. Sometimes my commute of walking down stairs is a wonderful thing, sometimes I would love to have to jump on my bike and cycle a few miles.
Describe a typical day in the life of you...
I think one of the many things that attracted me to self employment and running a business is the flexibility it allows. I am not sure there is a typical day. Yesterday I spent meeting climbers, cyclists and graphic designers for consecutive coffees in Brixton and the day before I spent sewing and listening to Kraftwerk. When things calm down I am sure a routine will develop and it will consist of a balance of sewing, marketing, photography and going outside to use the bags. Saying all that every day starts with the same early alarm followed by toast and marmalade.
Is there anything you are looking forward to during Design Week?
Really excited about ‘Celebrating the Mundane’ that will provide answers to a lot of questions. Also I will definitely have a look at Working Artisans Club and Nook of course, many many places have interesting and exciting ideas on display. There are a few work meetings that I am looking forward to, I think, meeting people face to face is a very important part of being a startup.
Where's your favourite 'Great Outdoors'?
Hmmm, it would have to be up on the South Downs. It is where I grew up and have spent the most time, Harting Down would be cross if I said anywhere else.
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