Interview – Kate Koeppel of Koeppel Design

Koeppel Design is a graphic design studio based in San Francisco, CA. In 2013, Koeppel Design launched a line of handcrafted products for the home, designed and manufactured in San Francisco.

-Can you discuss your background and how you first got interested in storage solutions?                                                     I've always had an interest in collections (buttons, stamps, ephemera, vinyl) but as I've gotten older I've realized the tendency to collect is a slippery slope towards disorder if I, or anyone really, is collecting without reflection. I didn't plan for my design career to be so closely informed by my love of music or by my tendencies towards order and structure;but it happened very naturally! I consider myself very lucky to have built this funny job of design + organization + music, because it hits so many of the right buttons for me.

-You have mentioned you believe a well-organized collection is going to be a well-used one, can you expand on that?
Sure, I think that its much easier to enjoy a collection if you know you're not going to be frustrated by it. If you can't find what you're looking for, or you've forgotten whats on your shelves, it is harder to invest quality time in that collection. I get a lot of pleasure out of listening to vinyl, because it forces us to take a break from work, our phones, etc. This is something that my husband and I enjoy together, and our friends and family often come together to spend time listening to music, socializing and unwinding together. Our vinyl collection is large, and it could be intimidating, but it is easy to access because it is organized with a clean visual system- any friend can stop by and pull out a record, which makes it more fun and social. We get to share what we love with the people we love.

I think a collection, (no matter the content) says so much about a person's values and interests-- I am often so delighted to be "invited in" to other people's collections- whether they collect a certain genre of music or time period, its like a little museum of that person's life! I design products to help others engage in more active, analog experiences, because I hope that my work encourages more people to pause more often to enjoy whatever media format they collect-- and if it happens to be more organized and looks good, even better!

-Can you discuss the importance of products being handcrafted?
For me, it is important to know and understand where I am investing my money, because I want to understand the full life cycle of a product. I'd rather have only few things that are well made than lots of possessions that are poorly made, or will need to be replaced. I really respond to objects that I know were handcrafted, it feels more meaningful to know where something came from, and how it was made. When I launched our first collection of products, I wanted to make the products that didn't exist on the market, and I wanted to make useful, durable products that I would use in my own home, and would be easy to incorporate into other people people's home aesthetic. In business we try to honor the values that we think makes good community- we work locally, we support other small businesses, and we try to use all our resources and materials very carefully and responsibly. 

All our products are made with a high grade european birch wood. Panels are laser-cut and engraved by machine, however every other part of the production process is done completely by hand. Every product we produce goes through multiple rounds of inspection to ensure we're delivering the strongest, cleanest and most useful product we can. All of our wood products are hand-sanded to ensure a clean, smooth finish.

-How does the custom creations process work?
We offer quick and simple customizations of individual record divider panels, (this will be available starting Oct 1-Nov 10th only)  but if a client has a large collection they need help with, we also do fully customizable design.

We work with clients to help customize systems that will work with their home, library or personal system. We can make dividers for any kind of media, storage system or space. We can do any size or shape panel, and we can laser-engrave just about anything! We usually start with a conversation about the collection, and after getting all the necessary measurements the process is pretty simple- We'll mock up a design, then once it is confirmed we'll move into design and and production. The whole process for a custom set usually takes about 3-4 weeks depending on the size of the order, and how busy our production team is (this is available year-round, expect in December).

-A lot of our clients don’t know what to do with their vinyl records, what are your best recommendations?
For me, taking the time to listen to vinyl is an immersive experience that you have to be present in. The format dictates that you have to be physically present to move the needle, flip the record, and be ready with the next LP. Listening to a full album is about taking a break, and actually focusing on the experience of music- physically being present and engaged as opposed to a possibly more passive music experience, say in streaming music.

I think knowing what is in your collection, is a big step towards actually using and appreciating it, no matter what you collect. If you've got a ton of vinyl LPs, CDs, or DVDs I think the first step is to put them in a place where you can see them, and then organize in a way that makes sense to you. The method doesn't matter so much, whether it is alphabetical, by genre, or artist, but that way you can see what you have, and its easier to find the things that you love. I've personally found that I'm more likely to spend time listening to my music collection when I can see it, and when its easy to access.  Our products also help preserve and protect collections, which is really important for vinyl collectors.

-What are your most popular products and why?
Our record divider collection is by far what we're best known for. Our record dividers allow our clients to build a organization system that works with their collections, no matter how they like to organize. Alphabetical organization (and our A-Z dividers) tends to be the most common way vinyl collectors organize, but I don't feel like there is one right way to catalog- its more about finding a system that works for you. Many of our customers also love genre panels, so they can use a mix of genre dividers and alphabetical dividers together.

Around the holidays, we offer gift certificates which is a pretty popular way to give the gift of organization to collectors in your life! We offer wood gift certificates in any denomination.