Photography by: John Molloy, @ballyscanlon

RJ wears   Sophia Sweater   +   Ava Skirt   in pale camel.

RJ wears Sophia Sweater + Ava Skirt in pale camel.

Re Jin Lee (RJ), is the founder of BDB NY: a New York based design studio offering both functional and sculptural ceramics made by hand. Each piece is a unique assembly of individually rolled out clay slabs and coils created by a 'hand and clay' collaboration inspired by the contemplative process of ceramics and belief in simplicity. RJ was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil to South Korean parents. This combination of cultures has a great influence in RJ’s design aesthetics. We had the pleasure of visiting RJ Upstate to discover her design studio, creations in progress and how her life and brand journey are evolving.


How did the world of BDB NY evolve?

I have a background in fashion design and worked in the industry for a while. It was only after moving to New York city that I discovered the world of home design. At first, I tried a little bit of everything; paper goods, textiles, fragrances and tableware. I started small, making everything myself, then outsourced as my company grew. When I had my first child, my priorities shifted and though sleep deprived, I saw clearly what I needed to do moving forward. Family first and work adjusts around it. So I shed the excess from my company and pared it down to just ceramics. I stopped outsourcing to produce less and went back to hand making all of my pieces. From making multiples of everything I'm now back down to only making one of a kind pieces. 

RJ wears   Carla Cardi   +   Lea skirt   in Ivory

RJ wears Carla Cardi + Lea skirt in Ivory

How did you design your studio to suit your work and process? 

I knew from the start I needed a larger space than my studio in Brooklyn as my pieces were growing and I was ready to get another kiln. So figuring out the square footage was a start. It was a challenge to 'design' a studio from scratch as I have no experience doing so. We kept it simple and uncomplicated, in an effort to not make the process too difficult. It was a gratifying project as this would be my 7th studio. Up until the 6th, they were all rentals and I had to work my way around the layout of the spaces. Now, I was creating a space that worked for me. I have custom made work tables and shelves that I am incredibly grateful for as they were designed to suit my work process.

RJ wears   Taylor sweater     +   Lulu skirt   in Cheetah goes Zebra pattern.

RJ wears Taylor sweater + Lulu skirt in Cheetah goes Zebra pattern.

What inspires you day to day?

I’m inspired by the excitement I feel creating something new and by the challenges it comes with.

RJ wears   Ines sweater dress   in Ivory & Pale camel combo styled back to RJ’s own jean.

RJ wears Ines sweater dress in Ivory & Pale camel combo styled back to RJ’s own jean.

What are the highlights of life and community Upstate?

We moved to an 1800's farmhouse in Pound Ridge from Brooklyn 2.5 years ago. It is a small town with a population of approximately 5k, 50 miles north of NYC. From the start we have experienced the sense of a close knit community. We were welcomed with warmth and during difficult times we were blanketed with love and support. Though remote and needing a car to get to places, I find that we meet with friends more often than we did in the city. Even friends from the city we see more often as they come to visit occasionally! It is wonderful to be surrounded by green and wildlife while appreciating the oldness of our home and the history it carries. It is certainly a more slow paced life where you literally do stop to smell the roses.

RJ wears   Mia sweater   +   Ava skirt   in Mustard

RJ wears Mia sweater + Ava skirt in Mustard

How do you strive to strike the balance working and being a Mama?

We have 3 boys: 7, 6 and an 11 month old. Between moving apartments and studios within the city and then the big move to Pound Ridge, it's been a whirlwind of a journey to figure out childcare and be where we are at right now. I don't think there is a perfect formula to achieve a balance between work and family life. I like consistency and structure in order to function, however, that is not a reality for me, at least for now. I try to keep that in mind and not stress myself too much when things don't go as planned. At the moment I have assigned myself work hours; so, before and after those hours I do not work.

RJ wears  Maggie sweater  in Grey Tweed +  Tess sweater  in Ivory/Praline combo layered + RJ’s own jean

RJ wears Maggie sweater in Grey Tweed + Tess sweater in Ivory/Praline combo layered + RJ’s own jean

What does the ELEVEN SIX brand mean to you and what is your favorite piece season and why?

Eleven Six to me represents thoughtful design and quality knitwear. I appreciate the story of how Eleven Six came to be and the effort Catherine puts into the brand in order to offer her customers the best whilst supporting artisan women in Peru. The Lara sweater's beautiful neckline and the elegant sleeves make this piece my favorite one this season!