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Molly M

\\ Shop goods from Molly M \\



Molly McGrath has been one of our most popular makers at Koromiko since we opened. Based in the Mission district of San Francisco, Molly is a professionally trained architect, who uses her laser cutting skills honed from making architectural models, to create a line of homewares, jewelry and art prints. Below, Molly shares with us a little about her background, the design process and some of her favorite places in San Francisco.

What led you to study architecture? Do you still practice?

It seemed like the perfect combination of right and left brain - when I started college I was very interested in art but wanted a profession that had a more obvious practical application. I haven’t practiced in several years, but I put my architecture education and skills to use everyday, at a micro scale.

Do you have any design or architecture mentors who have influenced your work?

The Eames have been a big influence, as well as the professors and students in the Bauhaus and Werkstatte schools. I love their simultaneous embrace of technology and craft and playful approach to design. 

What is your process for designing a new product?

For me, product design is based on concepts, materials, and processes. There are usually simple formal concepts I am interested in exploring like geometry, chromatic interplay, etc. Then there are materials – I’m constantly looking for new surfaces – be it textiles, papers, leathers, ceramics, or wood – that will look beautiful when laser-cut. As for processes, the challenge is to evolve my craft and use the laser cutter in a new an interesting way. Sometimes I try a whole new product category like the leather pouches, which necessitated sewing – very fun to learn! Other times, I stick with the same product category but try to do something different. For instance, I had been doing the wood jewelry for a while and was interested in doing metal. I had to outsource the laser-cutting, figure out where to get huge sheets of brass, learn about plating, soldering etc. But that is what I love – new materials and processes!

How do you choose the materials you work with?

Totally instinctual – if they are pretty and I think they will be interesting when laser-cut I will test them out.

What is your favorite part about the creation process?

I love it when a good design serendipitously results from a process of working rather than something I had planned for. This often happens when customers ask for a custom piece with colorways or materials I wouldn’t have considered.

How do you stay creative working for yourself? What inspires you?

Travelling, going to museums, spending time outdoors, meeting other creative people … I am inspired by all types of design, be it architecture, industrial, textiles, landscape, graphics, or fine art.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?

Start small and grow organically – and stay true to what is interesting to you.

What has been the most difficult part of running the design studio?

Definitely figuring out the balance between my business and all of the other things I love to do in life.

What plans do you have for Molly M in the future?

I want to experiment with ceramics and glass, and potentially lighting. 

What do you love about living in San Francisco?

My dad grew up here, so I love the history of the city as well as the architecture, topography, and amazing natural beauty.

Favorite shops or markets in SF? 

Bi-Rite, Eden&Eden

Best local eateries? 

There are so many and always new ones popping up! I guess I would say Frances, Flour and Water, Marla Bakery, Cancun, and Arizmendi are the ones I go back to again and again.

Any hidden spots you love in San Francisco? 

It’s not hidden but I love Corona Heights Park – it is my neighborhood lookout and an amazing spot to take in the city.

What do you love about the neighborhood you live in?

I live in the Castro and work in the Mission and wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Each neighborhood is a such a crazy mashup of people – it is very stimulating to say the least!

If you could just pick up and leave, where in the world would you love to travel to? 

At the moment Iceland is on the top of my list – I am blown away by landscape there.

More pics from the Molly M design studio below: