In the KitchenEmily Prince

Artist, Librarian, Jewelry Designer Interview and Images by Aimee Brodeur

I was so excited to visit Emily in her new home in San Francisco. Her residence which is located in the Lower Haight district, was built in the late 1800's and provides a magical haven for herself and her son Leon. I have had the pleasure of knowing Emily for the last 7 years and each space she has inhabited has always been decorated so uniquely that I could spend hours taking note of each item or artifact that ultimately reflects so much of who Emily is inside. Not everyone has such a natural ability to weave themselves and their personality into their home quite like she does. It's a gift that reflects her charm and sense of humor, not to mention the many roles she plays everyday. As a mother, librarian at Standford, jewelry designer, and artist, it's amazing that she has any time to keep her space as clean and organized as I found it. Then again, I suppose I would expect nothing less from a librarian.

So you only recently moved into this apartment. Did you make any significant changes to the kitchen?

There was no counter space in my last place, so having a kitchen with space to cook at is so nice. I really love these levels and platforms that I can use to create small garden-like spaces around my kitchen. I also now have a space for my basket collection.

Over time I’ve realized that I’m a collector. I have been into collecting different folk art. I got this basket here from a Native American trading post in Grass Valley, California near where I’m from. I also got this rug made of plastic grocery bags. See all of the Target bags? The only place I have ever seen anything like this is at the New York Folk Art Museum, which was a tapestry made of plastic bags. This was made by a local homeless woman, and she can’t make them anymore because she can’t get plastic bags in California. This other basket was made in the 70’s and dyed with Kool-Aid.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you’ve organized your kitchen?

I’m a bit OCD. I like things to be tidy. How everything is in relationship to each other is very important to me. I will move some things around and feel it out for a day and then maybe move it back. I have to feel harmony in my environment. It has a big impact on my psyche. I don’t like clutter, but I’m kind of frivolous by nature. I won’t throw away some colorful plates, but I will throw away the user manual to my car. (laughing) My son (Leon) is like me. He had this friend over recently, his four year old girlfriend. When she left, I asked him if he had fun and he said “Yeah, but I’m going to wait few years before I invite her over again because she was too messy.” I’m a librarian so I have a tendency to put like things together, it’s pretty simple. This is my son’s area down here. He likes collecting tiny things. So if he finds the littlest blueberry in all of the blueberries he has, he will save it for his collection.


“I don’t like clutter, but I’m kind of frivolous by nature. I won’t throw away some colorful plates, but I will throw away the user manual to my car.”

 

I love this collection of mugs and plates that you have. Who are they by?

The designer is Massimo Vignelli. He designed the NYC MTA maps in the 70’s. These plates and cups he did are called the Heller collection and I think they are worth some money, but every time I have found them they were so cheap.

Where did you find these?

I will only buy a bargain. So I will either pick them up if I see them cheap somewhere or I will troll eBay.

I really love how these cups and plates are this beautiful burst of color against the white cupboards and walls. It looks so good!

I followed the lead of the apartment, since everything was so white. I tried to get white pots and stuff. But I have a thing for hearts. I was always such a tomboy, but now I have a bit of a hearts and bows thing going on in my middle age.


“When I saw Mickey I thought to myself, “I want that again. That’s who I am on the inside. Happy. So I want to get back to that.”

 

Do you ever draw inspiration from anyone else’s way of designing their space?

My friend Airyka Rockefeller. She has a great kitchen. She is an inspiration. I love the way she puts colors together in small pockets around her space.

What pieces are sentimental to you?

The Mickey plate. Mickey is my spirit animal and my kind of boyfriend Aaron got it for me. Also, this book my friend Tauba gave to me. Have you seen these before? They are all pop up books, they are really amazing. Anything from friends is sentimental to me. Oh something else! Aaron and I really like collecting rocks together, so all of those jars are from different walks we have taken.

Also, since I am a librarian I labeled them- the walk we did, the location, and the date. My friend Leah also got me this Mickey mug to use for special occasions. Mickey helped me get divorced. I felt so depressed and oppressed in that relationship, and when I saw Mickey I thought to myself, “I want that again. That’s who I am on the inside. Happy. So I want to get back to that.”

Is there anything you are always on the look-out for to add to your kitchen?

Aesthetics rule my life, so it’s not functional, but I’m always on the lookout for more Heller to collect when I’m at a thrift store.


 “He likes collecting tiny things. So if he finds the littlest blueberry in all of the blueberries he has, he will save it for his collection.”

 

Tell me the story of your dinner table.

When Leon is with me, we eat here every night together. This was a hand me down from my aunt, which was given to me when I left my husband and I just needed anything. It was small and round and it fits. When Leon is with his father I eat standing up at the counter while putting away dishes and doing other things. I don’t make a ceremony about it at all.

How much time do you spending in your kitchen each day? Do you cook often?

I probably spend an hour and a half. I used to cook a ton before I had Leon, but when I had a baby I had to be choosier about how I spent my time. I started a raw only diet for myself, actually by accident, because I have so little time to cook. I also now cook incredibly simple and basic kid’s food.

What do you mean basic kid’s food? What do you make?

Hamburgers, quesadillas, hot dogs, and grilled cheese. Oh, and noodles.

Oh man, he must be so happy!

Yeah, I personally don’t eat meat but I cook it for my son.

To back up a bit- when you were breastfeeding and you were not cooking him food, did you find it hard to make time to cook for yourself as well?

Oh yeah. I used to make really elaborate meals, but it pretty much stopped when he was born. But I don’t really miss it. Your time is just limited in this whole other way. You have to be so choosy.


“It works for me- the repetitive nature of these lunches. You know how Obama only had 2 choices of suits to wear? I think it was grey or navy, because he wanted to save his brain power to make other decisions.”

 

Right, about mindfully picking what you are willing to dedicate time toward. So if you were to break down this 1.5 hours, when are you mostly cooking?

About 30 minutes in the morning and an hour in the evening. I make dinner for him, and then I start doing an assembly line of lunches for both him and myself for the week. Then there are dishes. Even cooking hamburgers and hot dogs still takes time and dirties up the kitchen.

Talk to me about this awesome meal prep that you do for the two of you.

I make them all Sunday night. I have a line up of my lunches and then the different items for his lunches. I don’t get bored eating the same thing. It works for me- the repetitive nature of these lunches. You know how Obama only had 2 choices of suits to wear? I think it was grey or navy, because he wanted to save his brain power to make other decisions. It’s a choice, it’s something I don’t want to have to think about.

Take-aways:

  1. Emily PriceWebsite