Corie Humble on the Beauty of Objects Suspended in Space

Corie Humble on the Beauty of Objects Suspended in Space

12/22/2021

Corie Humble thinks of design as a gesture of care and adoration for the person who will live with that work in their home or interact and reflect on it. The Circle & Line founder and object designer wants her pieces to spark joy, inspiration, and a deep connection. Her Austin-based fabrication studio creates mobiles, wall hangings, and now ornaments, all meticulously handcrafted in-house. Corie artfully blends her deep knowledge of object production and technical mastery with her signature minimal design aesthetic. The studio's name comes from Los Angeles-based artist Robert Irwin's concept that simple shapes—like a circle and line—can be transformed into multifaceted and resonant art. "I liked the idea of a circle as a neutral shape, universal, and a line as something with energy." For our latest artisan feature, we speak to Corie about her studio. Read on for more as we also discuss how she developed into an object designer, why she loves the process of transforming those elemental shapes into something entirely new, and why she is expanding her collection to include ornaments this season.

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You've worked on wide-ranging objects like leather goods, mobiles, wall hangings, and now ornaments from Circle & Line. What led you to your career as an object designer?

My career path has been very accidental. I originally studied painting but was always more drawn to functional objects, and I was more interested in three-dimensional construction. After taking several courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, I pursued a career in leather goods because I really enjoyed patternmaking. Ultimately, my career began in metal because I was attempting to expand my career to encompass jewelry as well. I quickly realized that I wasn't great at making something so small. The scale we work in now was a better fit. After making some samples, I had larger companies reach out for design work and ask me to have them fabricated, which led me to where I am now: a designer who owns and operates a small fabrication workshop. 

You've noted how your favorite part of the design process is knowing that you have a personal connection to the pieces you're making. Is there a common theme that makes you gravitate to these projects and objects?

My intuition generally leads me to decide what to create. I have started with foundational shapes and techniques, and I tend to let my curiosity and intuition meander into how I evolve the collection. However, I try to keep a base of what we already do and change one or two things, making my creative process more like a breadcrumb trail because it takes a long time to develop skills and ideas. 

How would you describe your design ethos? 

I think of design as a gesture of care and adoration for the person who owns what we make. I think of who they may be, their spaces, what would be a reflection of themselves. Design for me could almost be considered an act of service. If someone is inspired or feels joy when they see our pieces, it feels like a complete relationship—a gift well-received.

 

It's always fascinating to hear about where the inspiration for the brand's name came from. Could you talk about how LA installation artist Robert Irwin influenced the Circle & Line name?

I was very obsessed with Robert Irwin when I originally founded Circle & Line. I was thinking about simple shapes and how to transform them into something new, like abstract puzzles. I liked the idea of a circle as a neutral shape, universal, and a line as something with energy. It also made a lot of sense, as the mobiles are really a series of cut circles, and the square tubes are bars or lines. It's always very difficult to name a brand! 

How do your surroundings—specifically, living and working in Austin—influence your work? 

I tend to find the quietness of Austin makes it more of a place to think than to feel inspiration. I need to go deep into my head for inspiration. 

Every aspect of the production process is done by hand in the studio. Could you describe that process for us?

We have a small production team of five people. All of our materials come from Texas suppliers, with whom we have developed long-lasting relationships. Once the metal is cut, our supplier drops it off at the studio, and the process begins. There is A LOT of sanding and hand polishing. The more three-dimensional pieces are heat formed, and we add color by patina—the patina is a liquid solution that hangs dry—then they are hand buffed and lacquered. The process takes a few days before it is ready to be backed. We send our powder-coated parts to a supplier. The process involves coating them with a sprayer and baking them in a giant oven at 600 degrees. It's a pretty amazing process. 

What feelings do you hope to evoke in people when they see and live with your geometric pieces? 

I hope that they feel joy, wonder, and a sense of connection. 

Any styling tips for customers layering in one (or multiple) of your wall hangings into their space? 

I love seeing how multiples interact with each other staggered on a wall, especially when they have been intuitively hung on a wall to interact in a way that makes sense to the person hanging them. 

Happy holidays! We're so excited that you've created ornaments for the festive season. What was the motivation behind expanding the line?

The ornaments were a huge request from all our partners. Last year over the holiday season, I designed probably thirty different ornaments. It was really fun. I made them all originally out of paper and played with shapes. The smaller versions are now being scaled as larger iterations of themselves in new forms. It has been a very fun project. 

 

Similarly, are there any holiday decor trends we need to leave in the past this holiday season? 

Anything fast-fashion oriented. We have enough stuff in the world, so it's important to make pieces like heirlooms: meaningful, special, and used year after year. 

For you personally, what is a holiday tradition you're looking forward to the most with your family this year? 

Mostly, I am looking forward to hanging with friends and loved ones, eating, drinking, and watching movies! 

What is next for you and Circle & Line? 

I am excited about moving forward into the new year. I have an amazing team who work very well collaboratively and have a vision for how they can individually contribute, which makes me feel like we are leaving this year standing on some solid building blocks. Looking forward to next year allows space for new designs and new products. We'll keep you posted!

 

Photography provided Corie Humble