Interview with Boris Kiner – Bloomingdales Head of Shade Making
This year is exactly thirty years since I migrated to Australia from the Ukraine with my wife, two daughters and extended family (brother, sister-in-law, nieces, and late parents). I have been working with fabrics and leather for 40 years. I look forward to one day creating a unique lampshade that no one has created before and that no one would be able to replicate.
1. Tell us a bit about your background and describe what goes into making a beautiful shade?
This year is exactly thirty years since I migrated to Australia from the Ukraine with my wife, two daughters and extended family (brother, sister-in-law, nieces, and late parents). I have been working with fabrics and leather for 40 years. In the Ukraine and then again in Australia, my father, brother and I owned a factory that made ladies shoes from genuine leather – I designed them and created the patterns. I have been working at Bloomingdales for the last four years and have really enjoyed working with fabrics again. I look forward to one day creating a unique lampshade that no one has created before and that no one would be able to replicate. The key to making a beautiful shade is experience and great attention to detail.
2. What constitutes an “excellent” artisan? How do recognize someone who is good at what they do, compared with someone who is not?
A true artisan is someone who can work without thinking about what they’re doing - they’re so connected with their work that the task at hand happens in their subconscious, and they can talk whilst working.
3. You grew up in an interesting place and at an interesting time – how has this cultural influence contributed to your creativity, and your business?
I studied at a time when we were taught to do everything by hand. I was also taught to use machines, to do electrical work, and to work with timber. We were taught skills that helped get us ready for what lies ahead in life. For an artisan it’s to shape, craft, finish. Unfortunately, this no longer exists in schools in the same way.
4. You also have an Advanced Diploma in Art; how does this complement your work at Bloomingdales?
I learnt to draw. Build sculptures. Work with timber. And I love drawing. It helps me with everything I do, particularly with my work at Bloomingdales. I love creating patterns for lampshades and working in creative ways with different fabrics. To me, a lampshade is like geometry. You need to be able to see it from many angles. The geometry can produce a simplified refined form or expand a design with artistic flair.
5. You work with both leather and fabrics, in your eyes what defines quality?
Quality in lampshade making is defined by good fabrics and by good workmanship, where you cannot see glue or stitching, where nothing is crooked, and everything is in its place. I love the high-quality fabrics we work with at Bloomingdales. A good quality lampshade is a functional work of art!
6. In a world where everything is so readily copied and mass-produced, how do you see the future of the art of lampshade making?
There will always be a desire for high quality, handmade lampshades. I think there will be a stronger demand for lampshades made of leather, in the same way as our ancestors created them 200+ years ago. It's such a good textural contrast. I look forward to the day when this comes back into fashion.
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