Fashion designer Steven Alan is known for his American heritage aesthetic of chambray and sailor stripes. After years of curating a collection of artisanal products to sell in his clothing boutiques, he realized there were enough beautiful, functional home products to warrant a fully-fledged furnishings outpost. Steven Alan Home Shop opened in March and features an exclusive collection of made-to-order sofas by Jason Pickens.
Jason and I started as colleagues on the Martha Stewart Show and I consider him one of my close friends. I chatted with him about his start as a designer, what he learned at Martha Stewart, and his stunning collection of sofas.
How did you get your start as a designer and furniture fabricator?
My old boss at a movie prop house walked into my office and said: "The Smurfs Movie just called. They need a catapult that shoots apples in two weeks. I went ahead and told them we could make it. Let me know when it's finished." The next two weeks were very stressful.
What did you learn from your experience working at Martha Stewart?
Working with the art department on the Martha Stewart Show, I really learned a lot about function in the home. I believe people are drawn to brands like Steven Alan and Martha Stewart because they are the world's best at combining style with function. It really takes a special eye and they have it.
When I worked on the Martha Stewart Show, I was building set displays and assisting in the styling of segments. Because of the nature of my work there, my shop was right outside Martha's studio office. So, naturally, I spent a lot of time hanging out with Kevin Sharkey. He and Anduin Havens (who was art director for the show at that time) took me under their wings and always gave me good tips and pointers for what I was making.
It was always business with you until about five months into the show season. I was out in a club on the Lower East Side, and wouldn't you know it, dancing across the room from me was Kevin Sharkey. Cutting a rug like a pair of scissors. We got to talking and have remained friends ever since.
I just can't stress enough how much of an impact working at MSLO had on my life and career. The brand continues to inspire me.
How did your sofa collection for Steven Alan Home Shop come to be?
I met Steven Alan through his talented Vice President of Design, Ai Bihr. She had hired me to fabricate some showroom pieces for their Franklin Street location. So, one afternoon Steven came by to have a look at the project. I started explaining my past work experience at MSLO, the Peace Corps, and designing and fabricating movie props. He mentioned that he was soon going to open a home store and asked if I would be interested in working with him to create a collection. I couldn't refuse the opportunity to work alongside such a talented team, so I immediately took him up on his offer.
What makes the sofa you created so special?
Its simplicity. Every part of how the pieces function is visible. Unlike a traditional sofa where all the magic is happening underneath the upholstery with springs and clips and webbing, our sofa is just simple wood, steel, fabric, and down. It's durable, washable, and sturdy, but at the same time feels lightweight and comfortable.
Follow Jason on Instagram for a behind-the-scenes look at his work. @TheJPickens