At Building Block, Kimberly and Nancy Wu Stress Fashion’s Function Over its Form

The sisters behind DTLA company engineer highly efficient accessories

Kimberly Wu once dreamed up concept cars for Honda, while her sister, Nancy, designed performance footwear for Nike. That explains the racy efficiency of their line of stripped-down knapsacks, handbags, and other accessories. Three years ago they left their day jobs to form Building Block in downtown Los Angeles, where the pair sketch, cut, and stitch each prototype by hand. Every design begins with a purpose: the box bag that encases a sandwich perfectly, the tiny tote ideal for holding a cell phone and a handful of credit cards.

Clean Cut: sandal prototypes are fashioned from scraps of leather and rubber

Recently the Wus caught the eye of Todd Selby, the visual raconteur whose popular Web site, The Selby, showcases hipster interior design. The siblings are among 42 established names and up-and-comers from around the globe profiled in Selby’s third book of photography, Fashionable Selby, released earlier this spring. Says Selby of Building Block: “It’s very handcraft oriented. The whole process is done right there in their studio, which is a really special thing.” The sisters’ goal has always been to edit out excess. “At the end of the day, quality and true luxury mean great construction,” says Kimberly. “We wanted to create products that break out of what people have defined as ‘high end’ and instead reveal that value can be found in fundamental, everyday materials and shapes.” Building Block accessories are available at Mohawk General Store, Garde, and Creatures of Comfort.