The Makers is a new column on Seattlemag.com that explores different Seattle creatives and their crafts. These artists live to design, connect and create.
Pedram Shokri may be inspired by high fashion and streetwear culture, but when he and his friends Max Anderson and Tom Ly launched Spilled, a company that creates custom flooring featuring streetwear-influenced designs, he said it all started out of necessity.
After graduating from the University of Washington, Shokri, Anderson and Ly moved into their first real home. With a new space and the freedom to make it their own, they started looking around for items to fill it. "I wanted to find things that met our taste, so I looked for rugs and I saw these generic designs everywhere, there was nothing unique," Shokri says. "I looked at streetwear brands, and realized there's no one making anything for the home. I thought, let me go ahead and figure out how I can make my own rug for my own house."
Taking inspiration from sneakers and streetwear culture, the three friends partnered with artists to adapt a design, and then worked with a U.S. manufacturer to develop limited-edition rugs based on that design. From this process the guys created their first two original rug concepts: An elephant design inspired by the Jordan Three shoe that Michael Jordan wore, and a tiger design they had seen around the web.
This elephant print rug inspired by Michael Jordan's Three shoes brought Spilled almost instant recognition across the streetwear community; Photo Credit: Pedram Shokri
Once the elephant rug was made, Shokri posted a photo on streetwear forums, and on his Instagram account. From there, he said it was only a couple of weeks until it blew up online. (It was a quick turn around between posting the picture of the rug they made just for themselves, and establishing a name and company--at that point when blogs first picked it up they just had an internet landing page.)
"I was sitting on the bus, and all of a sudden I was getting notifications that people saw it and they wanted it," Shokri says. "I learned about the power of the Internet so quickly."
The first mention of Spilled came from a blog post in Amsterdam. Shortly after, U.S. streetwear blogs like FreshnessMag and Nice Kicks started picking it up. "We know guys who have hundreds of thousands of followers, and if they post something of ours the traffic gets crazy," Shokri says.
Growing up attuned to the high fashion community all over the world, Shokri was also a big fan of Michael Jordan. "Not only do you think about him, and his championships, but you also think about his shoes. So I've always been attracted to sneakers and the sneaker community, and it just expanded from there," he says.
He also notes Kanye West as a major influence. "With his music he wants to break the mold. It's not chorus verse, chorus verse," Shokri says. "There's an unconventional structure, and different textures in sounds. I think that's one of the biggest messages. Be yourself and being confident in yourself, but also trying to push boundaries and do new things. Don't try to replicate things in the past, do them better than they've been done before."
Spilled rug company creates limited, custom-made rugs, each with a hand numbered card and tag of authenticity; Photo Credit: Spilled co.
In just over a year, Spilled has sold several hundred rugs, growing from just two designs to 11 (with three yet to be released). The company has future plans to grow beyond rugs and make creative products for the whole home. "We aspire to give people stuff for their homes, stylish stuff, that they can resonate with," Shokri says. "The most important thing is knowing your customer and what's important for them."
The rugs are limited and come with hand-numbered cards and a certificate of authenticity. "Everything's really calculated--we want to make sure the size is right, the colors are perfect, the feel is right. We want that authentic feeling."
Spilled is moving streetwear culture beyond something that you wear and venturing into the realm of home decor. Shokri is thrilled his company's creations have become a part of such a tight-knit community. "Spilled is for the people who care about individuality, appreciate creative art with a back story, and just like things that are different."