Design is everywhere — in the buildings you live in, the streets you drive on and the alt-weekly newspapers you read. This year’s Nashville Design Week schedule is packed with discussions, panels and workshops set to take place Nov. 1 through 5 (see some highlights below) that explore all the ways in which design impacts our lives.
Ahead of the weeklong event, the Scene caught up with three of Nashville’s talented designers who are not only participating in Nashville Design Week, but are also creating the art, brand campaigns and social media content you probably already love.
NDW Opening Party & 2021 Community Art Project Reveal 7-9:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1;
For the Sake of Creating 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3
Cymone Wilder is a designer, lettering artist and one-half of Simon and Moose, the family-run design firm she founded with Cedric Wilder. Her eye-catching work is full of energy that brings new life to words. Follow her on Instagram at @simonandmoose.
It’s amazing to flip through your portfolio because each project is so different from the last. Where do you find inspiration for all your different styles?
Each client or project is so different, but I always start by asking, “How can I infuse my style into this?” The main thread through all of my work, no matter for who or what, is this tangible and authentic feeling. Something you can touch, feel and interact with. I’m first and foremost inspired by jazz, and then often inspired by the original signage throughout Nashville.
Lettering is an especially interesting design element to me because, as a writer, I think the words themselves are so important. Here, you have the job to make those words look good while also still clearly relaying the message. Is that challenging?
Lettering has always felt like the easiest way for me to communicate in my work. It says exactly what it means. Sometimes when something feels too difficult to say out loud, I know that I can get it out in my lettering. And when something is flat or trivial, I know I can elevate it with my work.
You’ve done work with some really impressive clients — Nickelodeon, HBO Max, Wired and more — what has been one of your favorite projects to work on recently and why?
It’s been a busy year, filled with a lot of incredible projects, for which I am so grateful. I think my favorite project was creating a wordmark for That Girl Lay Lay/Nickelodeon. [Show star Alaya High] is such a bright light and good omen for what’s to come with Nickelodeon, and I was pumped that what I created is able to reflect that.
Who is your favorite designer in Nashville right now?
John Martinez has been dropping some really impressive video vignettes lately. I love seeing Nashville through his eyes.
Ladies, Wine & Design Mentorship Huddles 5-6:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 1.
Lindsey Laseter is one-half of Lasso, the motion-led branding studio she founded with her partner Allen Laseter. Together, they’re the brand partners and the creative directors of Nashville Design Week. Laseter also founded the Nashville chapter of Ladies, Wine & Design, which will host the Mentorship Huddles workshop on Monday, Nov. 1. Follow Lindsey on Instagram at @lindseylaseter.
When did you start the Nashville chapter of Ladies, Wine & Design, and what inspired you to do so?
I started the Nashville chapter of Ladies, Wine & Design in the spring of 2017. At the time I was working at a small design studio with only two employees and craving community and connection to other designers. It was born out of personal desire but has evolved into a beautiful space for women across the city to connect on a personal level and support one another as professional creatives.
You’re not just a designer — you’re also a partner at Lasso, which specializes in “motion-led branding.” Can you tell me what that means in the design world?
Lasso is the creative studio of myself and Allen Laseter, an incredible animator, illustrator and director who also happens to be my husband. After both working independently for a decade, we realized how the overlaps of design and branding were filled with opportunities for motion and animation to empower brands at a new level — we could do more as a team merging our expertise.
There are so many talented design and branding studios, but not many who have merged motion as a key component to how a brand and story can live in the world. Nashville Design Week 2020 was actually our first official project as partners and led to the decision to start a formal studio!
Who is your favorite designer in Nashville right now?
It’s hard to choose just one, but New Hat has always been a source of inspiration for us. Kelly [Diehl] and Elizabeth [Williams] are creating work with such a unique point of view, and we love to see artists and designers that have made such a formative impact on the city. We’re hoping to do the same.
NDW Opening Party & 2021 Community Art Project Reveal 7-9:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 1
You’ve seen Xpayne’s work, though you may not know it. He’s designed logos and art for Slim & Husky’s, WNXP, The Nashville Shakespeare Festival and more. His work has also appeared on the cover of the Scene. Another client? Spike Lee. The director purchased and licensed XPayne’s portrait of Bill Nunn as Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing. Follow him on Instagram at @xpayneart.
You also paint, do digital design, branding campaigns and more. In all the ways in which you create, do you have a favorite medium?
That is difficult! I think my all-time favorite medium might be airbrush (plot twist!). Like those oversized airbrushed T-shirts of Aaliyah that Missy Elliott used to wear in videos, I used to make those. Lately, I’ve been using spray paint as a means to reconnect with my airbrushing roots.
Is there anything you’d like to see more of — or more support for — in the local visual art and design community?
Unbridled Black feminism, and a Nashville that is not afraid of subversive art. I think Nashville wants to support the arts but still needs to understand the circumstances that artists have to deal with.
You call your work “Black Pop.” I totally see it — you have a similar bright, vivid energy and simplicity in your work as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Yayoi Kusama. Can you tell me more about that phrase and how it fits your work?
I started writing the term in college, looking at folks like Haring and Kara Walker and Takashi Murakami. It was a means to identify myself within the art world that some took seriously and others not so much. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that it also speaks to a certain creative approach as a participant in American life. I think “popular” is a word that has layers to it, and when one changes perspectives on what is popular, the world becomes much deeper and nuanced than just the Top 10 charts. My goal is to explore Black life within this framework as a means to enrich our cultural language. Simply put, Black Pop is pop art from a Black American perspective.
You celebrate a lot of musicians in your work — Whitney Houston, Sade, Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah — I have to ask, what are your three favorite albums?
Axis: Bold as Love by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, ATLiens by OutKast, By Your Side by Breakbot.
Who is your favorite visual artist or designer in Nashville right now?
It’s been awesome to see Marlos E’van evolve over the years.
Nashville Design Week Highlights
Monday, Nov. 1
Designer Round Robin featuring Joey Verzilli, Van Hoang, René Manuel Ramos and Lizzy $OUR; moderated by Kelly Diehl and Elizabeth Williams — 11:30 a.m. online
Nashville Design Week Opening Party & 2021 Community Art Project Reveal featuring LeXander Bryant, XPayne, New Hat and others — 7 p.m. at Gray & Dudley, 221 Second Ave. N.
Tuesday, Nov. 2
A Vision for Guaranteed Income featuring Read Ezell, Jamel Campbell-Gooch, Kenneth Caine, Stacey Rutland and Jackie Sims — 11:30 a.m. online and in person at NDW Live Studio, 1015 W. Kirkland Ave., Suite 301
We All Win: Art as Social Justice featuring Michelle Ruiz, Ali El-Chaer, Keisha Lopez, Brooke Hoffert and Bliss Cortez; hosted by Andrés Bustamante — 5:30 p.m. at Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, 3310 Ezell Road
Wednesday, Nov. 3
The Power of Print featuring Hollie Deese and Nashville Scene publisher Mike Smith —8:30 a.m. online and in person at NDW Live Studio, 1015 W. Kirkland Ave., Suite 301
What Story Will We Tell: Museum Collections Through the Lens of Design featuring Dr. Marquita Reed-Wright and Ashley Howell; moderated by Sheila Dial Barton — 5 p.m. at the National Museum of African American Music, 510 Broadway
Thursday, Nov. 4
Defining Nashville’s Culinary Arts Impact featuring Victoria Rothberg and Julia Jaksic; moderated by Nashville Scene contributor Margaret Littman — 8:30 a.m. online and in person at NDW Live Studio, 1015 W. Kirkland Ave., Suite 301
When Design Matters Most: Affordable Housing in Nashville featuring Dominique Anderson, Kara Babin Gee and Kelsey Oesmann — 11:30 a.m. online and in person at NDW Live Studio, 1015 W. Kirkland Ave., Suite 301
Friday, Nov. 5
Into the Metaverse Reception featuring Nova Lorraine, Israel Wilson and Teddy Pahagbia; moderated by Kamilah Sanders and Opé Majek — 5 p.m. at Ce Gallery, 112 Gallatin Pike S., Madison
Nashville Design Week Closing Party featuring Southern Word and Hunter Gee — 7 p.m. at Monday Night Brewing, 1308 Adams St.
Nashville Design Week will require attendees to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (14 days after final dose) or a negative COVID-19 test dated within 72 hours of the in-person event. See the full roster of events, purchase tickets and register at nashvilledesignweek.org.