Distinguished Speaker: Kaffe Fassett ’55

Textile, color guru and creator of the mosaic outside the Zalk Theater, alumnus Kaffe Fassett, ’55, joined us yesterday afternoon in the Zalk Theater for our first Distinguished Speaker Series event of the year. Kevin Henschel,’93, conducted a thorough interview that got to the heart of Fasset’s life work in the decorative arts. He spoke about his inspiration, artistic process, and how his time at Happy Valley School influenced his career as an artist. Fasset was an entertaining, informative and inspiring speaker. Alumni from the 50’s and 60’s attended, making it an even more special event!

Kaffe Fassett

Kaffe Fassett has led an extraordinary life and is a captivating storyteller with a vivid memory. Born in 1937, he spent much of his youth in Big Sur, California, where his parents bought a cabin from Orson Welles and transformed it into the world-famous Nepenthe restaurant, a gathering place for artists and bohemians.

After attending Happy Valley School (now Besant Hill School of Happy Valley), he studied painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, then traveled to England, where he continues to make his home. After an inspiring trip to Inverness, Scotland, Fassett began designing knitwear for Bill Gibb, and then the Missonis, Vogue magazine, and private clients like Lauren Bacall and Barbra Streisand, and, in the process, revolutionized the hand-knitting world with his explosive use of color.

Further explorations led him to needlepoint, mosaics, rug-making, tapestries, yarn and fabric design, costume and set design, and quilting. Now in his seventies, Fassett continues to produce new work and to travel worldwide to teach and lecture.

On October 16th, prior to lecturing on his work at Roxanne’s in Carpenteria, Ca. Fassett will return to his high school alma mater, Besant Hill School of Happy Valley for the Distinguished Speaker Series to speak to the school community about his life and times.