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Q&A WITH CASEY KEASLER

INTRO TO CASEY KEASLER

Casey Keasler is an interior designer with a keen capacity for social media and a savvy sense of style. A true triple threat, her business Casework specializes in interiors for both residential and retail spaces; she also works as a stylist, and is partner in the Portland based vessels company Mazama. We spent a morning in Casey’s stunning studio called the Carriage House. Tucked behind a beautiful old Victorian style estate in Southeast Portland, the swoon worthy space was once home to the family’s horse drawn carriages. Filled with an airy light, the barn doors opened revealing the creative space of Casework. With her trusty dog Winston at her side, we chatted interiors, inspiration, and what’s on the horizon for her.

WHAT IS YOUR ORIGIN STORY?

I worked for various architecture firms for about a decade. When I moved to Portland for a fresh start, I didn’t have the client base I once had. I started working with Tanner Goods doing product design. I was making belts, wallets, and learning the process of how to make everything. Through that process I got involved in their retail stores, including their flagship here in Portland, and their outpost in Downtown LA. When I began working on the store, I realized how much I missed interior design. Working for a corporate/commercial architecture firm for ten years, I was so burnt out by sitting at a desk in front of a computer and going to meetings. It didn’t feel like how I wanted to work and live. My time at Tanner was super influential in how I decided to move forward with my own brand Casework. 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE AT MAZAMA.

After we opened the Tanner Goods Los Angeles store I decided to fully push the interiors realm. In May of 2014 I left Tanner and started Casework. Through my relationship at Tanner I was brought on as partner in Mazama. There I run all social media, website content creation, and guide the visual brand story. It’s not announced yet, but we are getting ready to launch a glasswares line – we’re shooting the collection here tonight! 

ANY EXCITING “SIDE” PROJECTS?

I’m working on a motel outside of Joshua Tree, California called the Pioneertown Motel. If you haven’t been to Pioneertown it was built in the 1940’s as a place for Western movies to be filmed. It has all of these old storefronts which are still working and livable. We’re going in and cleaning it up and re-telling the brand story. The intent is to make it more thoughtful and give it a fresh look. The desert is an oasis, the Westerns filmed here, and the history of Pioneertown, have all been big inspirations. 

I’m also working with Nest, the thermostat company. Together with Good Magazine we’re working with Nuevo South which is a non-profit based in LA. Nuevo South teaches kids and young adults in south central LA how to use technology, entrepreneurial skills, coding, and graphic design. It’s a safe house for a lot of the kids in the neighborhood to come and hang out, play, and develop these interests as they get older. Their house is called the Big House. As a matter of fact, I’m going down next week and we’re flipping the house. Nest is putting in all of their drop cam stuff, their thermostats, smoke detectors, and all of their new products. 

WHAT INTERIOR DESIGN SHIFT(S) DO YOU SEE?

People are increasingly becoming more conscious of space and rethinking the idea of a big suburban house. They’re interested in creating small, unique spaces that function and work for them. Essentially, thoughtful design as opposed to just buying stuff to fill the shelves. I had a hard time as an interior design just buying pillows, accessories and stuff like that, it felt so insincere. For me, having a reason for everything that I bring to the table and purchase is big driver.

YOU HAVE A KILLER EYE FOR FURNITURE? WHAT SHAPES YOUR AESTHETIC? 

I aim to find the right balance of mixing new pieces with vintage. This table (her desk) is new, but I paired it with chairs from the 80’s. Looking at scale and proportion is a big part of what I do. What tailors are for fashion, reupholstery is to interior design. I love my upholster guy! I got these outdoor pieces from a vintage store last week and have big plans for them. 

EASIEST WAY TO QUICKLY SPRUCE UP A SPACE? 

Paint. It’s the biggest and most dramatic way to change up a space completely. It’s not very expensive, a gallon for a 200 sqft. room is $30 bucks plus paint supplies. 

FAVORITE SPACE IN PORTLAND?

Right now I’m craving a place to go and relax, I keep thinking of Loyly.

RATHER THAN A SPIRIT ANIMAL, DO YOU HAVE A SPIRIT OBJECT?

Maybe a Windsor Chair. There are some smaller, lighter, leaner ones designed in the early 1700’s. Today if you put a fresh coat of black paint on it and don’t get one that has all the turn details, it’s so classic, chic, and striking. The style is completely timeless.

HOW HAVE YOU USED TO PINTEREST TO ELEVATE YOUR BRAND?

My Pinterest has been super influential in getting new projects. It’s given me some confidence in what I’m doing with social media. I think all of my work right now is word of mouth, and it’s a result of consistent and compelling social media activity. People have found me on Pinterest or Instagram – getting a quick glimpse of my aesthetic. It’s been a really good way for me as a quiet introverted person to express myself behind the scenes. 

DREAM COLLABORATION?

I haven’t done any women’s fashion retail stores. I would love to work with a women’s brand like Loeffler Randall or Ilana Kohn. 

WHO OR WHAT SERVES AS INSPIRATION TO YOU?

My biggest inspiration is my friends. Whether it’s going for a walk, traveling or a really beautiful dinner, I get inspired by that mood and that moment and try to replicate that feeling in different environments. Brands that continue to inspire me and put out fantastic content are Remodelista, And Tradition and photographer Nicole Franzen.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR CASEWORK? 

I want to bring on some more employees at Casework. I’ve been doing this about a year now and I’m still trying to figure it out. I want to take some time off after all of these projects install. That way I can reset. I want to go to Copenhagen – it’s a big trip because I want to do it right. I also want to go to Iceland, it looks quiet and peaceful which is what I’m craving right now. Some calm inspiration before the next design storm. 

TO SEE MORE

Get inspired by Casey’s perfectly curated boards on Pinterest @caseyk and keep up with her on Instagram for a behind the scenes peek at her latest projects @caseykeasler