Otis College of Art and Design logo
Events
  • Rodney McMillian (born in Columbia, South Carolina) is an artist based in Los Angeles.
  • Michael Joyce

    Sep 17| Lectures
    More

    Otis Books/Seismicity Editions is pleased to publish Twentieth-Century Man by Michael Joyce. Starting with a disappearance, Twentieth-Century Man contemplates issues imbedded in aging, memory, language, family, and even life and death, covering and uncovering many profound mysteries.

  • Alice Konitz

    Sep 18| Lectures
    More

    Graduate Fine Arts, Visiting Artist Lecture Series presents artist, Alice Konitz.

    Thursday, September 18th 11:115am - 12:30pm

    Graduate Studios: 10455 Jefferson Blvd Culver City CA 90230

    Image from alicekonitz.com

     

  • High&Low Bureau is a curatorial duo composed of Yael Messer and Gilad Reich. They curate exhibitions, film programs, performative events and publications, while engaging with a plethora of disciplines, media and modes of artistic expression.Their curatorial practice is dedicated to the exploration of artistic strategies that reflect on, and suggest alternatives to, specific social-political conditions.

  • Fritz Haeg

    Sep 25| Lectures
    More

    Image: Fritz Haeg, working to install the Edible Estate #12 garden in Budapest, 2012. Photo: Andras Kare.

    Graduate Fine Arts, Visiting Artist Lecture Series presents artist, Fritz Haeg.

    Thursday, September 25th 11:15am - 12:30pm

    Graduate Studios: 10455 Jefferson Blvd Culver City CA 90230

  • David Schafer

    Sep 30| Lectures
    More

    David Schafer is a visual and sound artist working in sculpture, sound, sound, performance, and works on paper. His work is concerned with the structures, translation, and intelligibility, of language and architecture. Schafer has shown nationally and internationally and has received several public commissions. Most recently he has had one-person shows at Studio10 gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY, and Glendale College Art Gallery, Glendale, CA.

  • Sarah Manguso

    Oct 01| Lectures
    More

    Sarah Manguso is the author, most recently, of The Guardians: An Elegy for a Friend, named one of the top ten books of the year by Salon. Her previous book, the memoir The Two Kinds of Decay, was named an Editors’ Choice by the New York Times Sunday Book Review and short-listed in the UK for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize and long-listed for the Royal Society Winton Prize. Her other books include the story collection Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, and the poetry collections Siste Viator and The Captain Lands in Paradise.

O-Tube

Planet First

Aug 25, 2013
Wanda Weller and Modern Folk Living
Spotlight Category: Alumni

by George Wolfe

When it comes to sustainability, there’s virtually no line between Wanda Weller Sakai’s home life and business life. After eight years as Patagonia’s director of design, and teaching fashion design part-time at Otis, she now runs her own sustainable business, Modern Folk Living, in Ojai, Calif. And her freshly remodeled sustainable home abuts the mountains, where she lives with her footwear-designer husband and their son. 

Though she’s branched off on her own in recent years—something she attributes to her decade-long cyclical yearning to do something different—she notes the deep influence that Patagonia still holds on her: “You drink the Kool-Aid there (in a good way) and you keep wanting more … you’re compelled to keep going in that direction.” 

From a property that required extensive resources for upkeep, Wanda’s family downshifted to a Cliff May-styled mod ranch home with reflective white stucco, solar panels, south-facing double walls, whitewashed interiors to disburse the light, extended patios to keep cool, low-E windows, permeable exterior gardens with native plants, and garden boxes adjacent to the kitchen. Throughout are favorites like Heath ceramics and other hand-picked items she also sells in
her store.

At Modern Folk Living, Wanda finds that “the goods I curate are an extension of what I did at Patagonia. I pull together a line of items with a common language that reflects my point of view—brands like NAU, Prarie Underground, Stewart+Brown, Coral & Tusk, Heath Ceramics, and Pi’lo.

“According to Wanda, customers don’t want to be hit over the head with the notion that something is ‘sustainable’—which has become overused. Rather, I focus on simply telling the item’s story, which appeals to people. Prior to World War II, most “farming practices” were done in an organic, sustainable way, as part of the culture. But the war’s excesses left us with the need to make use of those ‘pesticides and chemicals,’ and we’ve kept making more things ever since. Now, instead of fixing a TV, we throw it out and buy a new one. By contrast, at our store we carry a handkerchief that’s been repurposed (thoroughly cleaned, of course) with added handmade embroidery that says ‘Bless You.’ So it’s ironic that we’re returning (and in many ways longing for) a way of life that our grandparents and great grandparents lived so naturally.

As a retail business owner, what I often struggle with is the simple fact that I’m selling stuff and contributing to the ongoing dilemma of consumption.  I try to provide a sustainable business, but in reality, to be truly sustainable I wouldn’t be in this business—so the way I ‘rationalize’ it is by focusing on products that are local or domestic; organic, recycled or recyclable; handcrafted, fair trade, and timeless. I try to tell the stories behind the items I’ve curated for the store, to offer some awareness of and a deeper connection about my clients’ purchasing decisions. And with those connections, there is perhaps a reduced likelihood of thoughtless disposability. That was a big lesson from my years at Patagonia. The relationship people have with their Patagonia products goes with them everywhere ... they held memories —how could you possibly get rid of them? !”  

How to balance the sustainability ethos of running a profitable business while adhering to her values? She looks no further than her own backyard. Her ex-boss in nearby Ventura, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, noted recently: “I know it sounds crazy, but every time I have made a decision that is best for the planet, I have made money.” And Patagonia brings in $540 million in annual revenues.

If she keeps the faith, Wanda may find her own way to make a light but substantial footprint as her own legacy.    

 

Above: Wanda Weller Sakai (’88 Fashion Design) with family in their Ojai house, which embodies sustainable practices 

Tags