Photography by Ye Rin Mok
Scott Barry is a Los Angeles-based designer and the creative director behind Plant Paper, a tree-free toilet paper company, and Rose, a premium edibles brand that works with sustainable agriculture and chefs. Scott’s practice is a synthesis of photography, web design, graphic design, and interior design. Although to put his many talents into such delineations feels too technical. To put it most simply, Scott’s output is a reminder to us that building an ever-evolving, inclusive and expansive body of work takes equal parts time, interest, and thoughtfulness.
Over the years we’ve known his work to communicate quality and his person to be in many places. Here, we finally catch Scott in his Los Angeles home and have a brief conversation about learning slower and more thoughtfully.
Can you tell us a little about what you are currently, professionally and then personally, working on?
At the moment it's hard to see those as separate. A constant goal is working on finding some separation between the two. I have two businesses that I’m a partner and creative lead on, PlantPaper and Rose. Both are start-ups and very consuming.
Tell us about how you got into turkish delights and toilet paper? You make running two businesses look so easy.
Well I definitely don’t run both businesses! Both have wonderful partners and teams that make them possible. My close friend Nathan Cozzolino and I started Rose 3 years ago, around the time of cannabis legalization in CA. We wanted to bring an edible to market that felt like an extension of the chefs, markets, and farmers we love. I met Lee Reitleman, Deeva Green and Josh Solomon, my partners at PlantPaper through Sqirl, also around 3 years ago. They had been working for a year and half formulating a plant based toilet paper and immediately it was like ‘holy shit’ toilet paper, excrement, waste…all felt like a perfect full circle to transitioning out of Sqirl and food. If you don’t get them on the way in get them on the way out!
You’re an expert at creating things to fit your own particular needs. Have you always had a knack for customization?
I’ve always liked spaces and projects that allow for some tinkering. There’s some kind of foundational, restful moments and then areas that shift and move a bit faster. I love Stuart Brands' idea of shifting layers, that the rate of change in a building moves at different paces, from the structure (very slow) to the upholstery (very fast), then extended to society-government (very slow), nature (slow), fashion (very fast). Allowing for experimentation on the fringe and the foundational elements to learn slower and more thoughtful. I read Richard Powers’ book 'The Overstory' recently where he posits tree-time, it was inspiring to think about the slowness of trees, and the critical and thoughtful ways they grow and support their families and surrounding environment.
We try to avoid using the term “branding”, is there a better way you can describe what this means to you?
I’m not a fan of the term either, it tends to suggest something applied vs. imbued, especially with the collapsing of brands, social media, environmental and identity politics. It’s maybe just too loose or generic of a term these days.
What are some key values you look for when starting a new project?
I’m pretty focused on these projects at the moment and with both we obsess about the ways we can have an impact on that respective industry. There’s so much to unravel in CPG/Consumer Packaged Goods (supply chain, sourcing, production, 3pl, retail partners). Big CPG benefits from unethical vertical models that take very strategic moves as a small brand to compete. Making sure all of our vendor and partner relationships align with our values, we cherish our staff, farms, retail partners.
So you buried your Building Block bag outside in the dirt + rain and it still looks pretty good!
It just felt right. I’ve never really had or used much leather before. I wanted to speed up the aging process.
We assume your day-to-day movement changes so much per project, what are some consistent things you keep in your bag no matter where you are?
Cookbook groceries, film wrappers, bills I’m forgetting to pay, tennis balls.
What’s your favorite thing about being your age right now?
I once was moving furniture into a show at Joel Chen’s warehouse and scratched his floor where his logo was. I was terrified and walked up to him and was like ‘Joel I’m so sorry but I marked the logo over there.’ And he said ‘I have marks all over my body’ and walked away. Over 40 you just feel more authentic in yourself because you have no other choice at that point. It’s a calm feeling.
Scott owns a Line Tote in Veg Tan.