Interior Design

The Making of Our Modern Dinner Bells

October 12, 2015

Hear that? That's all of us running towards the sound of designer Pat Kim's modern dinner bells

Pat, a Pratt Institute alum whose studio is based in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood, is one of our Shop's newest makers—so we asked him a few questions to find out where he gets inspiration and and how he finds beauty in old things.

Food52: Tell us a little bit about your background as a maker. Is your current career the one you anticipated for yourself? What's your training like?
Pat Kim: After studying industrial design at Pratt Institute, I started apprenticing with a high-end furniture maker. I started at the bottom, sanding and oiling, and worked my way up to being a furniture builder. Having learned a variety of skills (including leatherwork, upholstery, and woodturning) on that job, I started pursuing my own work in 2011. I have always been a bit of mad scientist, constantly experimenting with new processes, materials, and forms. I try to make something new every day. A lot of the time it's silly, fun things, but sometimes I create something that becomes part of my line.  

Shop the Story

How do your experiences in toy and furniture design influence the work your currently do?
The culmination of my experiences in woodwork, toy design, leatherwork, and jewelry dictates my process—and I hope that shows in my work. Though I don't strive to master any one skill or craft, I'm inspired by those who demonstrate mastery, whether it's in cooking, smithing, printmaking or hand-lettering. I try to use what I've learned every day, and hone my skills with every new object I make.

How would you describe your own work? 
My aim is to create functional, thoughtful objects with a balance. I try to instill a simplicity in my designs, with just the right amount of flourish. I believe the objects we make should be timeless, but also have a certain "nowness." I try to make and design objects that are seen as personal, something you care for and are long-lasting.    

Pat's fresh takes on the classic triangular dinner bell (available in our Shop!) are made from rolled steel and have a brass striker.

What inspires you? What influenced the designs for your modern dinner bells?
One of my inspirations is antiques, especially antiques from around the world. It helps me to realize what is lasting, the kinds of objects people hold on to and pass on, and what these objects say about us. When I go about designing new pieces, I think about what I would want in my own home and use that as jumping point. In that way, my collection is really a reflection of my personal tastes. 

The triangle dinner bell is unique in that it is a both a functional object as well as a piece of wall art. It is a symbol that, for me, represents togetherness, family, and friendship.  

What is your workspace like? Is there a community of other artists and makers where you work? Do they play a role in your own creative process?
I'm lucky to have my workshop as part of a bigger space/shop with many different skilled creative types. I work next to other furniture makers and product designers, as well as a boatbuilder, master carpenters, graphic designers, and more. Our neighbors in the building make wine, smoke meat, roast coffee. They all have different energies and philosophies—all are inspiring.  


My own shop is part wood shop, part laboratory. I have all kinds of experiments around the shop, hanging from the walls, from the ceiling, under tables, in every nook and cranny. It's kind of crazy, I'll be looking for a random whatever and find something really cool I made and forgot about—sometimes I'll see something new in it and develop the piece more. It's nice to forget about something and come back to it with a fresh take.  

Photos by Bobbi Lin; video by Madeline Muzzi

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