Have you ever met someone that you truly want to be when you “grow up”? Well, I don’t know if I ever have wholeheartedly experienced that feeling before, until I stepped foot into Talin Spring’s eclectic Northeast Minneapolis studio, also known as Spring Finn & Co.
If you haven’t traveled in quite some time, walking into Talin’s studio and by-appointment-only shop will make your head spin with serious wanderlust. It leaves you with a yearning to redecorate while simultaneously brushing up on your French. (Or in my case, learn French altogether.) The sensory overload you will experience, let me tell you. The scent of sweet tea, murmurs of soothing music and surplus of eye-catching fabric pinned to every wall – the floor to ceiling textures you will long to touch or just stare at for 8 minutes straight will most definitely hold you enchanted for hours at a time.
After meeting with Talin to discuss her life story and what she has been up to as of late, I was not surprised to learn that people often spend up to two hours in her store just browsing and drinking tea with her. It’s as if time stops and you are brought back to old Paris where life was good, at a time when authentic craftsmanship was at an all-time peak and mass-manufacturing was not yet discovered.
Her studio feels like a home you’ve never experienced and I found myself wanting to nestle in for the entire day. In a world of fast fashion, over-manufactured cheap goods and sellers trying to make a quick buck on Amazon, the “real world” seems to halt in a dreamy, old-world space continuum when you meet Talin, who refuses to compete or comply with American societal norms. She really reminds you of why people began making meaningful items in the first place.
Talin taught me that quality is key and focusing on the bottom line is not always important. Chasing your passions and living a fulfilling life is unquantifiably more meaningful and rewarding than working in a profession that doesn’t make you happy. Staying genuine is the key to Talin’s special sauce. She refuses to sell her goods on Amazon or eBay, or even sell them wholesale into other local boutiques.
Catch our interview with Talin Spring below, a true design inspiration!
You have such an interesting and vibrant life – tell us about yourself!
Oh, I am just another human (she smiles).
I read you grew up with makers, at what age were you when you started making items?
Not that young. Although I had a mother and grandmother who were makers, they were quasi-professionals so everything had to be done by the rule, they would show me things but as soon as I would start helping… It was never right and whatever I did had to be corrected, a little frustrating. So I started rather late, in my thirties, mostly after taking night classes in mosaics, figure drawing, and ceramics over the years.
You were born in Istanbul, raised in France and spent a lot of time in bazaars, you must have so many amazing stories, what was that like?
Istanbul is a magical and mysterious city with so much history around every corner and the body of water that has such a big role in everyday life; Paris is just another unique place I don’t need to describe. Having lived in 2 fascinating cosmopolitan metropoles at an early age and speaking several languages (and hearing them around me daily) probably made me who I am today.
Was your childhood home as vibrant and beautiful as your studio is?
Yes, lots of colors, furniture made by local makers (but that’s how it was then), textiles embroidered by my mother or grandmother. My mother made most of our clothing, and our shoes came from my father’s shop. My grandfather was an iron forger, so lots of things were made by him including a veranda where all the pieces would hold together by screws, not welded, entirely dismountable; it was a work of art.
What was it like going to Columbia in NYC or school in France?
It was an amazing experience. In France, University is free but the means are really limited too, and you don’t live on campus. Libraries open all night, teachers available to talk to you when you want, listening to Ann Sophie Mutter playing on campus, afternoon cookies and tea at the International Affairs building… are all luxuries I was not at all used to. I used to say that everything was done in the American universities so you can study in peace, that’s all you had to do, learn; in France it’s more of a struggle with the lack of material means, that’s why of the 1100 first year economics major students only 400 graduated the 4th year.
What was it like working in investment banking. What skills has that taught you that you take throughout your life?
There were good and bad things about it. It was good because I made friends for life, traveled to faraway lands, negotiated deals, met with Fortune 500 company managers, learned a lot about international finance, but bad because of the hierarchy, a stiff corporate environment, misogynistic tendencies… those were things I didn’t especially enjoy. The skills I took for life are certainly discipline, accountability, questioning and figuring things out because there were not hands held, but also, let’s not forget, proficiency in Excel :).
I read that your favorite part of product design was the hours spent with artisans, working with them, following the process from your drawings to the final product. What is your biggest takeaway or learnings from working with artisans?
Patience, because every hand technique takes years to master and endless hours are invested in making one beautiful piece.
What is it like to create every day, do you love it?
I love it! Couldn’t do otherwise, a day without creativity is a depressing day, I day where I am not happy with myself. But creating does not mean creating a new bag or something extraordinary every day, it can be very small things such as a beautiful table setting that night, a little drawing that came out as you want, or the discovery of an artist that inspired you and added a spark to the day. I didn’t use to be like that, only big accomplishments would give me satisfaction. I now believe that all those small creative things are steps/ building stones for something bigger, that happens once in a while.
How do you stay inspired every day to create?
By using all my senses and trying to absorb as many new things as I can, reading (books on architecture, design, textiles, arts, set design), listening to music, definitely museums, movies… But also taking walks in nature, and having time alone is so important for creativity.
What is an average day like for you now?
Since a year ago, I have a new studio, full of light and good energy. As soon as I get up and have breakfast, I go to the studio, it’s my second home and arranged as a home too. Depending on the day, I can be working with leather, making prototypes for clothing, just sitting and reading a book on a particular textile technique, preparing a trip. But my work also involves things that I have to do that I don’t enjoy doing at all: accounting, taking photos and putting items on the website… I love meeting friends after work or having them over for lunch at the studio.
I interviewed Alex Roberts about Hotel ALMA what a beautiful place, what was it like designing that? What was the process like?
When I arrived on the project it was very late in the process, everything was more or less decided on paper but Alex was not satisfied with the result. Inspired by Alex’s cuisine which uses seasonal local ingredients, I created a story around it and made the space a physical expression of his cuisine: simple, crisp, unpretentious, and seasonal. After I presented my mood boards for the rooms and the building Alex bought in the vision that I wanted to communicate at the end. The furniture I designed for the rooms was locally made by Marvin Freitas, most accessories found in local shops or estate sales, while the lighting and textiles came from around the world. Many hours were spent in the spaces thinking about the guests and their movements, we wanted to give them a feeling of being at home, a human environment that would engage all their senses, they could enjoy intimacy in the quiet beauty of the rooms or go down and join the crowd for a great meal and fun moments. It was a wonderful adventure even though I don’t think I slept more than 3-4 hours between May and November. I was lucky to find a person who took a big risk and put such trust in me with no design background on paper, accepting enthusiastically pretty much everything I proposed.
What are your favorite places to visit in the world and why?
Japan was my latest discovery and I fell in love, the level of care about every detail corresponds I guess to my way of being, I have no patience for sloppiness. India has always been my big love, although its the complete opposite of Japan in everyday life. There is so much craft in that country and so much knowledge/tradition in every field that I always think the entire place should be protected by Unesco.
After living abroad for the majority of your life why Minnesota?
I have the same answer as most people who are not from here: my husband’s job.
What are your goals with Spring Finn & Co. for the future, are there any new exciting designs you can’t wait to try?
SF&Co. started with just bags as an American made brand because I was in the middle of the country with 2 little girls, unable to travel often or far. However, my love for artisans just like my love for humans is not towards people who surround me, I love humans and artisans around the world and in other fields than leather bags. I started that already with some clothing we are manufacturing in Jaipur, some home goods too. We’ll see what the future brings, I am not a big planner, I believe in encounters & serendipity.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
Most likely in Marseille, continuing to create, maybe owning a small hotel/cafe with friends, enjoying the Mediterranean and the sun daily, cooking and having my friends around my table in the evenings.
Do you have any fun or exciting upcoming trips planned? Paris in the very near future, because I have my parents there and I am designing a sweet apartment with a terrace, a rarity in that city. Probably India in the Fall and Colombia towards the end of the year.
I am dying to go to France, what are the top places to visit/cities to see and things to do while in France?
Oh, there is so much to write… I would arrive in Paris for a few days and take the bullet train down to Marseille, rent a car and explore Provence. Camargue is where the Rhone delta empties into the Mediterranean; it’s magical, so wild, worth the visit.
Would you ever consider teaching a workshop about how to do what you do?
I could, but I am probably not the most methodical teacher.
How much of your time is split between product design and interior design and sourcing artisan made products for your shop?
I would say 50/20/30.
Who are your favorite designers or people you look to for design inspiration?
My inspiration comes from many people and places, not just design, and it’s more an inspiration for life, a way of being… Elsa Schiaparelli, Diaghilev, Leon Bakst everything related to the Ballets Russes, Calder, Ilse Crowford, Georges Perec, Macha Makeieff, Matisse, Offenbach, Pierre Desproges are a few of my favorites.
What is your favorite quote or life mantra?
“Don’t take yourself too seriously.”
Favorite book you’ve read lately or in your life?
The Life Before Us by Roman Gary, probably the most touching and funny book I have ever read, Dead Souls by Gogol, a masterpiece of novel writing.
Who has been your biggest teacher in life?
I can’t say I had one, besides my mother for certain things and today I am learning mostly from my daughters.
Do you have any morning rituals? How do you usually get your mornings started?
No, I wish… I am terrible at that, have read every book about the necessity of rituals but cannot seem to stick to one more than 3 days in a row!
What is your best life or business advice to entrepreneurs or people looking to do something different?
To do something you are sincerely passionate about, not getting into the baby food business or cosmetics for example just because you read that there was money to be made or that it was trendy.
What are you most proud of making?
Happiness and beauty around me, for my family, friends, customers, and strangers too!
BY Stefani Hodzic - October 30, 2018
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.