Written by Kaitie Probst
Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Area Social Media Intern
I turn the corner at Main Street at East Broadway and stroll down the 100 block until I come upon the studio addressed 138 East Broadway. The window display is alive with colour and piqus my interest with its hand-made bowls and decor. My eyes fix on the ‘Katami Designs’ welcome sign and a feeling of inspiration washes over me. I reach for the door, when a kind face within the studio opens it for me and greets me into her shop.
The first thing that comes to mind is the meticulous arrangement of jewellery. White painted display cases house gorgeous hand-crafted necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. The jeweler allows me to take my time browsing the studio, and opens the glass cases when I want to look at a piece in closer detail. We get so swept up in conversation that we forget to introduce ourselves. “Kaitie Probst” I said, “Negar Khatami”. We share a hug and continue our conversation about the inspiration behind the studio and the creation of a space for aspiring jewellers to work. Negar nods to the open door beyond the display cases. “And behind us is where everything is made.” Seven jeweller benches line the back of the studio.
The next time I visit the studio I felt right at home. Negar is there with her friendly greeting and an offer of a cup of tea. A rush of ideas for social media posts come to mind as I admired the new Blason, Akinaka, Amavi, Aevum, Les Trésors du Passé, and La Vie collections. I also explore Katami Design’s website where I directed myself to their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds.
Now whenever I do a walk-abouts through the neighbourhood I drop in at Katami Designs to pick up my conversation with Negar and meet the jewellers who are hard at work on their new pieces. Coming into the studio feels like a breath of fresh air. The wall art and displays rotate throughout the seasons and are constant source of inspiration.
Christmas time will be remembered for the stockings hung on the wall adorning the names of all the artists, the giant snow globe window display and the BIA’s annual “Santa visits Mount Pleasant” walk-about. Come Valentine’s Day, a beautiful heart of tissue paper filled the studio window. From inside the shop, we could see couples passing by, holding hands in the frame of the heart. As spring came around, the window displayed strings of yellow sunflowers streaming down to an arrangement of candles and hand-made bowls below. Whether it’s a beautiful, sunny Vancouver day or a torrential downpour, this studio stays bright and beautiful.
Today I sit at a jeweller’s bench, crafting this blog and I watch the jewellers transition between their benches to the work area by the sink behind me. Artists are hanging new art on the walls, and Negar is bouncing about, chatting with everyone and helping them with their work. I realize that there is no other space that I’ve experienced a similar atmosphere. Everything in this studio falls into place despite a constant flux of dynamic change. I see the same appreciation in the eyes of the customers who enter the shop with curiosity, engage in wonderful conversations about their own art, travels, engagements, requests, and those who come to purchase a treat for themselves or a loved one.
By the way Negar builds connections with her colleagues, the other jewellers, her customers, art installers, and neighbours, it is obvious that her heart beats in sync with the clack of her jeweler tools. It is admirable how she focuses on crafting pieces each day, attends fairs and gem shows and events, connect with other jewellers and artists and still finds time to post photos of her continued success.
When she’s not in the studio, Negar is busy exploring Stanley Park, travelling to distant lands, taking special requests from Bloedel Floral Conservatory and Van Dusen Garden, getting nominated for the Notable Awards, having her jewellery showcased in photo shoots for Niche Magazine, Framework Magazine, Fashion Magazine, and Where Magazine. Negar and her fiancé Darrin Pezer, have been Bronze sponsors for Global Civic’s Public Salon with former mayor, Sam Sullivan and his wife Lynn Zanatta.. I was fortunate to attend the 22nd annual Public Salon with them to hear the inspirational speakers and take photos of the jewellery they gifted to the speakers.
As I continue to visit, I know their business will thrive and continue to be an important aspect of Vancouver’s creative community. On my wrist hangs a beautiful Stanley Park branch bangle from Negar’s La Vie collection that I have worn ever since I laid eyes on it in the studio. I’m proud to say it has become an everyday accessory that reminds me of my connection to nature, the best of local small business, and the talent behind Katami Designs.
We are all #FutureHeirlooms.
Visit 138 E Broadway Tuesday – Friday 11am-6pm & Saturday & Sunday 12-5.