Beyond the Edit: Kai Avent-deLeon
The Brooklyn concept shop Sincerely, Tommy, has become a place for emerging designers to thrive because founder Kai Avent-deLeon is working to foster a creative community. The entrepreneur has recently added furniture designer to her creative resume with the launch of Raini Home. The line of statement-worthy chairs, tables, and decor pieces are all designed by Kai and manufactured locally in Brooklyn. On the occasion of her TRR Tastemaker edit – a mix of thoughtful investment and vintage pieces across home, art, womenswear – Kai discusses how she’s rethinking her interiors and how motherhood has inspired her to be more playful with design.
How did you get more into designing and making your furniture line Raini Home?
Kai: Honestly, I just kind of do things organically. I’ve always had a love for interior design and furniture. My creative brain has been wanting to make my own pieces for the last five years.
When my son Che was born, I wanted dining chairs that just felt a little more playful and safe. The ones that I saw online had really sharp edges. So I decided to make my own. I made a sketch and gave it to my woodworker, Sammy, who’s always made any of the custom pieces for Sincerely, Tommy. He made the chairs and people started asking about them. I thought maybe I can sell these at the store. It started off very slowly. It wasn’t like I was planning on making a business out of it. And then right before COVID Julian, my business partner approached me and asked if I’d be interested in turning this into a legit business. We actually haven’t really officially launched everything. So far, it’s been me just sharing little snippets on Instagram. We’re hoping to do an official Raini Home launch by mid-December with the pop-up shop and the website launching. We’re going to do the pop up for three months. Hopefully we can do it longer, but the furniture has had such a good response.
With everyone spending so much time indoors, there’s definitely a need to rethink our spaces and be more intentional. Has your approach to interiors shifted recently?
Kai: I think so. I’m definitely always trying to be as comfortable as possible. So for me, it’s about creating a space that we can spend time in and utilize. I’ve been living in this new place for a year. I’ve put a lot of energy into the family room because I want Che to be able to just explore and run around. He really loves music, so we have a bunch of instruments here. I was very mindful not to put a lot of furniture in the family room, so that we have space to just throw things around. I’m a very minimalist, so I wanted a designated space where I didn’t have to clean up every second. I’ve been putting a lot of love into the backyard too. It was really important. I just wanted to be able to go back there and relax. So my husband just put a fire pit in the back so that we can sit around and be really cozy.
How has your home style changed since having your son?
Kai: Absolutely. My style has definitely shifted and changed and matured. Che has also opened up my tastes to maybe more playful items. So I try to add more pops of color. I’ve definitely gotten more into artwork. Before I liked bare walls. But now I’m building an art collection featuring Black artists, just so that he can walk around and feel stimulated and inspired by what he’s seeing on the walls. And now, I like to mix a little bit more. I’m really into Shaker style, which is a little more rustic than what I would normally go for. But I love mixing Shaker with Mid-Century with something more playful, like his little bean bags that are actually really cute. And then always adding stuff from my travels which has been really key for me.
Tell us about the curation of your TRR Tastemaker edit and the items that you picked.
Kai: I just went items that I would have in my own space – really minimal, easy to mix and match. I really liked that painting by Benoît Gilsoul. It’s pretty minimal and can go in any space. I love paintings that have texture. I also really love the Phoebe Philo era of Celine. I don’t consider myself to be like a fashionista or anything, but when it came to her collections, I always thought they were very chic. When I saw the Mother of Pearl and Shell Cameo ring, it immediately reminded me of my grandmother’s Wedgwood. It was very elaborate and ornate. I think in most West Indian grandparents’ homes, they always have those armoires filled with stuff that’s never really used or allowed to be touched. So it’s kind of nostalgic. My edit is just full of things that are really classic and timeless.