I stumbled across Rochelle Cheri’s company, Primitive Reserve, through the Instagram spiral- I saw some brass spoons she had made, clicked through to her site, and then fell in love. Rochelle focuses on building functionally beautiful items made of repurposed materials – everything she makes is designed, sourced, and produced by Rochelle in LA. Rochelle’s background and commitment to her work is inspiring, but what I find the most incredible is her commitment to learning – which she shares with her followers and fans on Instagram and on her blog. She’s always trying something new and tweaking and perfecting – and you can see her work benefit from that as you follow along.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?:
In college I was a science and premed major – I joined the theater department and picked up a drill – we were required to build our sets. The shop guys taught us and then we had to build the sets on our own. Through the theater design program, I learned design discipline. I loved making things for people to see.
I studied film production design – but wasn’t connecting with the work or fulfilled. I wanted to build something that people could build into their life and home and use daily. So, I left my corporate art director job to start Primitive Reserve 1.5 years ago.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
My studio partner’s collection of Fine Woodworking magazine – he has issues from the 1970s! There are no women featured in the magazine. It can be hard to be a woman in a man’s industry but I’m determined.
Metal working – I didn’t start working with metal until last year. It’s out of my comfort zone but so fun!
Great metal workers – like Calderone. Ceramics – Ben Medansky, who used to work in this building – Ceramics are the opposite of woodwork.
I find a lot of inspiration in other art forms – outside of my medium.
WHAT GETS YOU THROUGH THE DAY? THROUGH THE WEEK?
Learning something new and trying to incorporate that into my product or blog. When I learn something new, I get everything else I have to do done quickly so that I can work on whatever it is that I’m learning.
WHERE DO YOU ESCAPE?
Lake Arrowhead. I love to travel outside of LA and see something new and fresh. I love to hike amongst the trees. I used to surf a lot. I love spending time doing anything new or spending time with my friends and my nieces – it gives me a break from the stressful business stuff and gives me great outside perspective.
WHO DO YOU DESIGN FOR?
When I first started, I was designing for myself. I was constantly trying to replicate a natural home environment – a warm, cabin like feeling in the city. I wanted to recreate the feeling of Lake Arrowhead without using literal, rustic pieces.
Now I design for men and women who are near my age and can appreciate what makes these items special, who want to stay ahead of the trends.
I want to do even more metal work, and mix metals – I love the contrast of aluminum and steel and black metals.
Thanks, Rochelle, for taking the time to show me your space and chat!
[First & last image via Primitive Reserve. Studio images by TAE]
Follow Primitive Reserve: