It feels wrong somehow that we don't remember the last time we flew a kite. Why would we deprive ourselves of something that used to fill us with so much joy? When we came across the whimsical handmade kites designed by Emily Fischer at Haptic Lab in Brooklyn, New York, we knew we were ready for a kite comeback. Fischer, a former architect, started Haptic Lab in 2009 to turn her childhood hobbies, primarily quilting and kites, into her full-time, adult job.
When Fischer told family and friends she was leaving the architecture field to focus on kite-making, she says, "There was a lot of confusion and a lot head scratching. There was more than one person who thought I was running a 'tights' business."
Fischer admits that kites are certainly niche, even in New York where there's a subculture for every odd hobby you can imagine. But she draws inspiration from a rich tradition of kite craftsmanship in other cultures. "West Indian communities are super into flying kites and kite-making," the designer says. "I grew up in Wisconsin making kites out of trashbags, but for communities in Indonesia, it's much more serious."
Fischer's biggest design influence, however, comes from the turn of the last century, when she says the Wright Brothers' first aircrafts were really just giant kites. "A lot of my early research goes back to looking at the connections and the materials that were being used 100 to 120 years ago," she says. "Haptic Lab uses a lot of bamboo, birch, spears, and some fiberglass, but we try to keep it as low tech as possible."
A travel tip from Fischer: If you find yourself in Bali, and you're looking to spark a spirited conversation, ask a local how their kite did at the previous year's annual kite festival. Guaranteed friendship.
Below, find your favorite kite and then meet us at the park for some breezy, high-flying adventures!
For more on Haptic Lab, see hapticlab.com.