I’m Irene Estelle, an architectural designer from Peoria, Illinois. I have been making personalized gifts for friends and family since I was a child, believing that a gift of my own creation was the best I could give of myself to another.
I have always been a bit unconventional. I have always looked to do things in a different and better way than I was taught. This is actually what drives me. I have used computers to help me design for a very long time. While in school for architecture, computers were our number-one tool, as it is in the industry. When I was a student in architecture, we used laser cutters to cut out pieces for our scale models. I quickly fell in love with this tool – its versatility, precision, and speed excited my imagination.
Needless to say, this technology is an integral step in my process. I am frequently found fleshing out ideas quickly using 2D and 3D CAD software, and developing these into exquisitely precise cut files for my laser cutter, to then be assembled and finished by hand. It is architecture on a micro scale. The end product, I believe, is a precise, efficiently-produced item, enhanced with handcrafted quality.
I currently live in Lowell, Massachusetts, the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. I work out of an artist studio at Western Avenue Studios, here in Lowell, which is the largest artist colony in the United States (300+ artists!).
Black Bosk is a design/make studio established to channel my passion and creative energies into developing and creating handmade products that emphasize integrity of materials.
I believe in simplicity. I believe that materials should be used according to their unique characteristics; that product designs should not keep secrets from their users. My designs seek to utilize the unique strengths which each material provides. This approach delivers products which are true to their nature, and therefore, resilient to time and use.
My studies in architecture have allowed me to hone my passion for simple, straightforward, efficient designs which focus on emphasizing the unique structural properties of various materials. I take pride in developing products that are true to their material strengths because when those materials are happy, we are happy.
I believe that the materials which are used in a project are sacred – that they should be used according to their strengths; that they should be used honestly. I call them the Four Elements of Craft, and I poetically describe them as LEATHER, FIBER, TIMBER, and BOULDER.
I focus on these four materials because I believe they can stand on their own – that they each have characteristics unlike one another, and that, because of their unique properties, are able to serve very specific functions in a project. This is the fundamental philosophy behind my work and It is my most heartfelt ambition to do these materials justice.
The list of which materials fall into each category is fairly extensive, but the four main materials I choose to use in my work are:
// LEATHER, represented by animal hide
// FIBER, represented by wool felt
// TIMBER, represented by baltic birch plywood
// BOULDER, represented by concrete