VKC: What is the process of designing your pieces?
Diana Parrino: The concept of each design must be fairly adaptable; all pieces are completely unique. Because I work largely with scraps from discarded materials, the initial design is driven by what is available. As each piece begins to take shape, the functional details dictate its development. Once the basic functional footprint is established, the maker in me returns to her roots as a visual artist, and the aesthetic aspects complete the work.
VKC: What makes your pieces one of a kind?
Diana: Each of my pieces is unique because the material is utilized just as it comes to me. Some pieces are cut down to size but the uneven measurements and rough cuts are also design elements. Many times, I am creating from shipping pallets, which are not square or machine milled to exact measurement — as a result they can be very unforgiving to work with. The artistic endeavor becomes apparent with the final visual elements adorning each piece. My maker’s mark is that the piece becomes an original work of fine art in its final detail.
Diana: I started making functional fine art out of simple economy, and a need to transform the material elements around me into appreciated works of art. The first installment I created was with shipping pallets. It was a three-story loft/riser/closet when finishing my studio. It seemed to be a bigger attraction than the art I was making and became a natural extension of my work. The first piece I created was a table to paint on and house supplies, when people began inquiring about price, I began offering to build custom pieces for the public. I very much enjoy the idea of creating things that people can utilize. These items add dimension to my body of work and expand my market as well.
VKC: Why repurpose materials?
Diana: The materials I use are almost all repurposed, from art supplies to building materials. The pallets I am known for using come from a network of supportive individuals — small business owners and homeowners who would otherwise incur an expense for removal will call and ask if I am interested in taking them. I am happy to provide that service in exchange for materials. It benefits both parties and leads to more long-term business relationships.
VKC: What your favorite piece you have created up to this point?
Diana: The most memorable piece, so far, was a bed I made out of pallets, oak and cork. The bed has a lighted headboard with little shelves — it turned out amazing. I made it for my son when he moved into his first house. I delivered it and set it up, he was genuinely surprised by how nice it turned out.
VKC: What do you love about working in Kansas City?
Diana: Kansas City is an amazing place! I have really enjoyed seeing our city grow and I would like to be a part of that expansion. I have had a studio in the West Bottoms for ten years, and I am open to the new opportunities that are developing in this city.