Introducing Chime, by Alexis Garrett


San Diego-based designer Alexis Garrett is known and respected throughout the region for curating inviting interiors that truly capture the spirit of California. Inspired not just by the local lifestyle but also the surrounding nature, her firm, Alexis Garrett Design, works in residential, hospitality, product design and now, the art world. Today, Garrett along with California-based ceramicist, Nicole Novena, unveil a limited-edition ceramic collection entitled CHIME. The collaboration features 55 uniquely strung ceramic discs that dance from floor-to-ceiling. Each piece is assembled by hand by the two north county artisans and made of natural materials including California sourced clay, jute rope and leather. Here, we present a more in-depth discussion with Garrett on what inspired her move into the arts and what the future holds for CHIME.

Alexis Garret and Nicole Novena.
Stacy Bostrom Photography

What inspired you to launch CHIME?
At AGD we often develop custom pieces for our design clients. We had a client who was building a custom home we needed a special piece for a tall stairwell. The space was crying out for a sculpture, and one night around 3AM, I came up with the CHIME concept in my sleep. Isn’t that when everyone has their best ideas?

I knew I would need a ceramicist as a collaborator so I reached out to Nicole Novena of Clay and Craft and we worked together to come up with the final piece. When I unveiled it to my client, she and I agreed it needed to be in a more prominent place, so it now hangs in a central spot in their dining room. When we showed CHIME to the client’s friends and our other clients and friends, almost everyone asked where they could get one, and as we thought about it, it just felt right to open the aperture a little and offer a limited series for sale.

We love the work of Nicole Novena, why did you decide to collaborate with her on this CHIME series?
I love working with local artisans, and I have known Nicole and her work for a long time. We love using her bowls, mugs and other pieces, and I love the handmade elements of her work. I knew she’d be a great person to work with on the ceramic elements for CHIME.

What elements of California inspired the design of each piece?
CHIME has an elegant coastal feel that was a way of marrying a California coastal feel with sculpture. As I look at it, I think we subconsciously took inspiration from trees or a stalk of kelp as seen from underwater as it takes on a tree or kelp-stalk-like feel. It’s like it’s growing out of a root ball of the here-and-there flop of rope. The colors are reflective of both our coastal area – the beach, sand, sky – but also the nearby desert landscape of Borrego and Joshua tree as the individual chimes have a granitic color and stone-like feel as well.

How does your design business influence the Chime aesthetic?
Each of the homes we design has its own personality, but what’s awesome is that CHIME feels appropriate for each of them, and in that sense, it feels like CHIME draws an aesthetic through-line between all our design work. That was a big part of the reason we felt like it was a great opportunity to share with a (slightly) broader audience.

Why did you decide to produce only 55?
We were never really interested in a big production run. Each CHIME is handmade. The clay is cut and fired by Nicole and her team. Each CHIME is tied and strung by hand by me. They are truly each original pieces of art, handmade with love and time. Oh, and we really like the number 5.

What do you have in the works for the next collaboration?
In our interiors work, we’ve created all sorts of custom pieces, from original art to furniture to lighting to hardware to doors. So we have a pretty deep well of original pieces to choose from, and we have some ideas on what we might want to do next. We encourage your readers to subscribe to our newsletter, AG Letters to stay in the loop!

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