Employee owner name: Shreya Patel

Department/Job at Work: Designer / Design

Number of years working at Bark: About 1.5 years

Hails from: A small town just outside of Boston called Belmont, MA.

What did you do for work before you worked at Bark Frameworks?

I was a designer at an Upper East Side framer prior to this – they specialized more in ornate framing. I studied art and design at the University of Michigan, and did framing out there too [in Ann Arbor], at a small mom and pop shop.

What is the biggest challenge in your area of work at Bark?

Working as a Designer is an interesting position because the role touches on each department within the company – we do account management with clients, work with every area of production, and have to understand how each department works, and also handle logistical details. Oftentimes, the most difficult projects to work on are duplicating old frames, or taking on special requests we haven’t seen before. We can do most things that are asked of us, but it takes navigating with production, understanding limitations on their end, and then relaying that information to the client. It’s about finding a balance between what clients want and what our production team is capable of. Most things can be done, it just takes time, sometimes, to figure out how we’ll design special frames. For example, I recently worked on a job framing a TV – there’s a lot to consider there, with the sensors, ventilation, and wiring in the back.

What do you like best about working at Bark?

It’s a combination of things. Seeing a wide range of art and learning about new artists every day is an awesome experience. I also love working with the variety of craftspeople within Bark. There’s always something new to learn from our extremely skilled team! As with every piece of art we receive, every frame is unique and may require special treatment. Everyone at Bark is deeply knowledgeable in their craft, and their input in how we [the Design department] design frames is especially appreciated.

Name a particularly memorable framing job you worked on:

I loved working on the Brooklyn Museum’s Jimmy De Sana show. It was one of my first projects here, and the type of work we don’t see every day – which was part of the novelty. I saw the exhibition when it was finally up at the Museum and was blown away, I had to buy the book to commemorate it. There was so much more work shown other than what we framed here: artifacts, notebooks video pieces. I loved the exhibition design as well. There was one small room with solely red lighting, which I thought was a brilliant choice.

How has your life in- and outside of work changed as a result of the recent pandemic?

I moved to New York in the fall of 2020, right after graduating, so there were a lot of major changes in my life! It’s been interesting to see how the city has “woken up” a bit since I first got here.

What does being an employee owner mean to you?

I really like it! It was something that attracted me to Bark before I even worked here. In a similar vein, in college I was part of cooperative housing, where we were all home owners and lived communally. I took on a lot of roles there, from being a weekly dinner cook to  co-President. I think that having a voice and a stake at the place that we work is important to general well-being. It makes me feel more aligned with the mission of the company, and the general sense of teamwork seems stronger!

Any outside hobbies/interests you have when you’re not making frames? 

Recently I’ve been sewing, cooking, reading books, and learning how to skateboard. I also really like trying out new restaurants in different neighborhoods. Recently, I went to Angel in Jackson Heights (supposed to be some of the best Indian food in the city). It was amazing!

Are you an artist?

Yes! I don’t have a dedicated practice right now, but I’m working on some projects for fun. In the past I’ve focused on painting, upcycled art, and speculative design. I just started working on a Scarlet Macaw Halloween costume this weekend, which is proving to be an amusing challenge.

Thank you, Shreya!

Interview Text and Photos: Jennifer M. Clark

Published: October 2023.