meet Marisa Haskell and Dave ball – today we’re visiting the soon to be married, creative couple’s charming home in Oakland, california, recently photographed by melissa kaseman. Marisa is a jewelry designer and owner of Marisa Mason – handmade pieces with a beach aesthetic, mixed with a rock ‘n roll modern lux quality. Dave is a woodworker and designer, as well as the creator behind Jacob May Designs – specializing in producing classic American furniture and accessories that are simple, elegant and made ethically from sustainable materials. sfgirlbybay contributor Leslie of Spotted SF recently shared a post here about marisa’s shop, so we thought you might like to now see inside the beautiful light-filled home she shares with dave. their craftsman home is an eclectic mix of vintage modern collections paired with quite a bit of dave’s handmade furniture – the dining table, coffee table, and end tables were all built by Dave. and in fact, Dave is having a show at Heath Ceramics on June 16 for his newest line of beautifully crafted furniture. let’s get to know a little more about this very inspiring couple, shall we?
What bay area neighborhood do you live in?
We live in Oakland, in a neighborhood a few blocks east of Lake Merritt called ‘Cleveland Heights’. It is a mix of apartment buildings and single-family homes a few blocks walk from the Grand Avenue and Lakeshore Avenue shopping district.
What is your idea of a perfect day in your city?
Runs in Redwood park, a trip to the farmer’s market, BBQ with friends or go out for a beer at night. We are not that great at just relaxing, so often there is some sort of house project thrown in there.
What do you show friends and family when they come to visit?
If they have not visited before we usually would do a quick tour of our work places- Temescal Alley to see Marisa’s shop and over to west Oakland to get a tour of Dave’s wood shop. We have some really amazing regional parks in the Oakland hills that are surprisingly uncrowded, so we will take people up above the city to hike in the redwoods. Around dinner time it is always nice to just walk down to the lake for sunset then over to one of our great neighborhood restaurants – Boot and Shoe or Penrose.
What’s your favorite feature in your home?
Big windows that provide great light. We try to keep things simple in the house – nothing is more pleasant than a sunny open room.
What’s the easiest way for you to find inspiration for your design work?
Dave: The easiest way for me is to isolate myself in my shop when nobody is around and just start making something, especially when I have a tight deadline. I can get bogged down in the design process, worrying about every little detail so it’s best if I just force myself to start building.
Marisa: Similar process for me – I design two collections a year and typically there are around 30+ new styles each season. It may not sound glamorous, but often I find my inspiration by just working on pieces day after day until a nice thread begins to develop. Inspiration is rarely something that just strikes for me – I find that I really have to dig it up through trial and error.
Did either of you leave a more “9-5” day job to pursue your current passions?
Dave: I tried the 9-5 engineering thing after college and only lasted a year. Then I began pursuing a PhD and, again, only lasted a year and a half. So after dropping out of my PhD program I got a 9-5 gig as a furniture builder in Brooklyn. I worked there for a couple years to learn what I needed to know to start my own business out here.
Marisa: My last job before starting my line was in the architectural design world at a company called Concreteworks. I learned so much by working at a small business for many years and seeing the different hats you have to wear as a small business owner.
Is there anything you collect?
We both really love handmade pottery and Dave has done a great job at building a collection by doing trade with a lot of local ceramicists. Marisa has a little bit of a textile collecting problem. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough walls in the house to hang them all so watch for a yard sale coming soon.
Do you have a guilty pleasure or indulgence?
Dave: I eat at the local taco truck near my shop in West Oakland 3-4 times per week. I probably should feel more guilty than I do about all the greasy Al Pastor Tortas and Carnitas burritos I put down each week.
Marisa: I would rather not go into that. 😉
What souvenirs did you bring back from your last trip?
We went to Morocco for a pre-wedding honeymoon where we picked up quite a few rugs and brass pieces. We spent hours drinking mint tea and being shown hundreds of different rugs and chatting with craftsmen in their studios about their work. Shopping in Morocco felt like a treasure hunt, passing through winding alleys filled with hundreds of tiny artisan shops including people doing incredible leather work, weaving traditional textiles, carving wood, making shoes, and carrying on trades that disappeared a long time ago here in the United States.
What are some of your favorite instagram feeds?
What does success mean to you?
Dave: success to me is all about freedom. I will feel like a success when I have achieved the freedom to work when I want, travel when I want, build furniture that I like, and work with employees, partners, and clients that I enjoy.
Marisa: Having pride in the work I do, having a good collaborative team, getting to a place where you can try to encourage other designers, and having fun at work.
Do you have a quick bit of advice for anyone interested in starting a self-made career path?
Dave: I think it is incredibly important, before going it alone, to do internships, apprenticeships and work for a period of time at a business that you wish to emulate. Even if it means not getting paid much for a while. Consider it part of your education.
Marisa: I quickly realized that if I wanted to be able to make my passion my career then I would have to do a ton of work to build a functional business that could support my excitement about design. Figuring out the financials early on made decision-making much easier and allowed me to spend more energy doing the things I loved to do.
What’s next for you both, in terms of your career and personal lives? Anything new you’d like to share with us?
Regarding our personal life- We are getting married at the end of July and are working on putting together a fun party.
Marisa: I am working on a new collection now and finally bringing in a full assortment of silver pieces.
• photography by melissa kaseman.