Photo by Mariana Schulze
“Killscrow is a tribe-related word. Darrick and I loved the name and felt connected to it,” says Lana Fee Rasmussen, explaining the title of the company she runs with her husband, Darrick.
Killscrow is an Ojai-based design company, started in 2013, and the name pays homage to Lana’s Native American ancestry: Her mother is full-blooded Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole. Lana didn’t grow up in a “traditional” way, and much of her work stems from her curiosity about her ancestry.
Darrick is a furniture maker. Lana is a block-print fine artist who works with paper and textiles. Although they work in different mediums, the couple rely on their similar aesthetics and mutual support and influence to keep their brand cohesive. Their work can be described as pared-down, highly edited and brought back to the most simplistic forms. There are no frills or extra elements; focus is on the essential. The result is classic and timeless furniture and strikingly powerful artwork.
“Darrick uses the word ‘quiet’ a lot when describing what it is when a piece of ours feels successful,” Lana shares. “As the more practical of the two of us, I think the idea of over-designing is my worst fear. We may dance around something a little more decorative at first, but we always come back to keeping it simple.”
“The way that I was taught,” shares Darrick, who studied at the College of the Redwoods in Northern California, enrolled in an accelerated learning program for woodworking, “was to let the wood tell you what it needs.”
Since college, that eat/sleep/drink woodworking work ethic has enabled Darrick to quickly master his craft. He’s been building furniture for the last five years, and Killscrow offers his pared-down tables, chairs, beds, custom pieces and large shelving units. Darrick explains his aesthetic: “I like my home to be a nice, quiet environment, a space that feels peaceful. Because there is so much going on when you leave the house (and both Lana and I design with that in mind), our designs are simple with no extra flourishes, leaving exactly what you need with nothing added.
“For me it is so much about using a ‘quiet’ wood and not a statement piece. I want the wood and the design to coexists harmoniously instead of the design taking center stage or the wood standing out.” Because of this, Darrick tends to pick wood that has straight grain and a simple look. He avoids the flashier exotic woods not only because of their showiness, but also because of their questionable origins and sustainability. He sticks with species that grow in North America, counting among his favored woods walnut, ash, white oak and, on occasion, cherry. Darrick also brings leather and sometimes even brass into his designs.
To start a project, Darrick draws the design on the computer and then commences design talks with the client. “I am comfortable with most aspects of the design, but there are always those times when I need to build a mock-up to see how it will work,” he says. “I use cheap wood to create a rough draft of the project before I commit to using the real wood. A mock-up is a great tool to help me see what the completed project will look like.”
Darrick relies on hybrid woodworking, using a combination of machines and power tools for the things they do best, like the rough work (to save time), while keeping the more detailed work for his hand tools, employing traditional methods.
Using each other as a sounding board, Lana and Darrick play off each other’s opinion as their work develops. These days Lana is working on a series of small drawings that pay homage to Ojai’s citrus fruits.
“I think of myself as a craftsperson rather than an artist,” Lana says. She carves the blocks she uses for printing by hand and is very focused on the tactile feel of the paper she uses.
“I really like working on new things because I love learning,” Darrick smiles. “There are days I feel like a furniture maker and other days I just feel like a woodworker.”
When their retail space opens in Ojai in April, it will be the first time that Lana and Darrick’s work will be displayed together. In partnership, this talented couple are creating innovative and exciting work, breaking new ground in design, function and beauty.
For more on Darrick and Lana Rasmussen’s work, visit killscrow.com.