Leah Rosenberg

Dec 3rd, 2012

What’s your uniform?  Maybe dressing helps you create a new identity every day. Maybe you don the same items each morning because you know what works.  We talked to some of our favorite creative people about how they suit up.

U: What is your uniform, the clothes and gear you need to face the day?

LR:  don't mean to wear the same thing everyday, but somehow this has become my go-to uniform: Dark blue jeans with rolled cuffs; black lace up shoes with a 2.5 inch heel from Camper; tank top; black honeycomb sweater; over-sized charcoal wool coat from Ali Golden (she has a shop in the Temescal alley in Oakland) that I got at a sample sale; a leather bag from a company in Montreal  (It’s important that I carry a little something Canadian to represent!) that I will have until the end of time that has just the right amount of pockets and fits everything I need for the day.  I must say that my uniform extends into the things in this bag: the two scents I like to wear on top of each other, the Moleskine daily planner and note book (I still prefer to write things down) and the bike that gets me everywhere I need to be, with the basket that holds everything, is an extension of the day-to-day outfit.  For me, these are the things that make up the whole package, the uniform.  

I work at the Blue Bottle rooftop cafe at SFMOMA as the head pastry chef.  We have a pretty particular dress code that was conceptualized especially for the location by Matt Dick of Small Trade.  We wear these lovely chef coats by a Japanese company HAKUI.  They are my favorite shade of grey.  This along with dark jeans, my Dansko safety clogs, a hair tie, a sharpie marker, and a kitchen timer makes up my work uniform.

U: Why? Does it perform a function, embody an ethos, remind you of a feeling or time or place? Is it for you or for others?

LR: I'm into layers.  Layer cakes, paint stacks, I guess the way I dress, too- layers.

I also love color and stripes, but rarely wear them, so it makes its way more into my art. A uniform is part of who you are and what you do.  What you do to that uniform is also an indication of who you are.  I guess what I'm saying is that a uniform can be a way of blending in, but also an opportunity to express who you are in the world and how you want to contribute to it.

U: What would you add if you could?

LR: It has been my quest to find the perfect apron- one that  could put on for around the house, in the kitchen, out in the garden, down in the studio, and really Get. Things. Done. and over time people have given me aprons and have done some thorough research and found these

But I think I found the one here, simple and sweet, practical and sophisticated, nothing fancy.

Or instead of aprons: bell for me bike (mine was stolen!)... I am looking for one that I'm not sure exists yet.  I will tell you here that my ideal bike bell would double as a kitchen timer. 

U:And what would you get rid of?

LR: All my pens that don't work anymore!

U: Whose uniform do you admire, even if it's something that wouldn't work for you?

LR: A little black dress as a uniform would work for me.  I might even be able to wear it everyday for awhile, but she is more stylish/creative than I would ever be on day five of this project!  And I love the idea of waking up in the morning, picking out an outfit knowing it is going to help send a kid to school who otherwise might not be able to go.  Andrea Zittel's Smockshop comes to mind, but to me this project is more significant, as it is simultaneously for her and for others - generous, inclusive and creative.

Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, now living and working in San Francisco, California, Leah Rosenberg received her MFA in 2008 from the California College of the Arts and her BFA in Visual Arts from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2003.  She is painter, sculptor, and cake-maker whose bodies of work combine systems of accumulation and elements of layering to explore how our experiences, emotions, and memories build up over time.  Her paintings, paint-based sculptures and cakes are offerings of nourishment and pleasure and have been exhibited throughout the US and Canada. She is currently employed as the pastry chef at the Blue Bottle Coffee rooftop garden café at SFMOMA, creating desserts based on artworks of rotating museum exhibitions.