Why Design? (as a verb)

I just finished watching a video of Phillippe Stark on TED.( yes..I'm a bit of a nerd) and when I listen to the many layers in his process ( going back to the genesis of organic life) I don't feel as complicated as I sometimes can. Because there are a thousand reasons why I design what I do, and I know that for the most part, it needs to be simplified or some people feel overwhelmed by all the layers. For anyone that's interested, here are some of the 'quick notes.'

It may not be obvious - but I am in my way a design maverick- a rebel.The reason that I design is because I cannot find the things that I am looking for- so- I create them. The jewelry, the clothes, the objects, the spaces and the stories that go with them all are all born of this need to change the world; a "Mahlia" world where things and people are of value- treated and lived with in respectful and collaborative interaction.

Some of the things in my head can be seen on my bookshelf: "A World of Ideas", ""Symbols & Signs", The Culture Code", "The Notebooks of Leonard Da Vinci", The Creative Call", "Story", The Power of Unreasonable People",The Alchemist", "Mavericks at Work"," The Little Prince"...... and what these titles reveal is a creative soul/spirit, that sees the best in her world and strives to create the most beautiful, and beautifully made. Why? Because we all affect one another- everything we do affects one another- and we need to put good things out there to inspire and enjoy, because "it all comes around".

The furniture began because I like things that had a story; not just "stuff', not just the 'last, next best thing'. I wanted to have things that were beautifully crafted and that would outlive me and be enjoyed by somebody else afterwards."Why?" Because beautiful things that are beautifully crafted should be cherished. They were made by someone's hands. If they are beautifully made, they were made with integrity-part of someone's high standards that they spent years training to produce. People don't produce good work unless they are proud of their work. They go together. And that work, and that effort, and that 'soul' that inhabits each piece should be honoured and passed down; not thrown into a garbage heap to be replaced with disposable junk- but lived with through generations- sharing stories that blend together through time. A human chain.

But it doesn't stop there. The next thought is, "If we make things by hand, that will last for generation- there will be less waste, less refuse."These are things which when made from natural materials, take care of my world as well and my home. The industrial pollution created by machinery,contaminating waste and garbage that needs landfill disposal- is gone. The joblessness, because some mechanization has taken away human work, has been replaced to a more natural order, and those things that are created by human hand and soul, are what we nourish our souls with, in a continuum that follows a natural order. Nature and people should co-exist. It is not about dominance and disrespect. A wood frame at the end of it's time, will decompose and return to the land.Cotton, silk, wool will eventually rot and nourish the soil. But plastic? What happens to a plastic chair? The chemicals needed to process the material? Where does that go?

When people began to create and wear jewelry, it was used for totemic and talismanic reasons. People had a high awareness that these charms were meant to direct energy both from them and to them. As societies became more affluent, this sensibility was lost as these artifacts became the quickest public statement of authority, status and wealth.A wedding ring? Meant that someone was in a committed and legally binding relationship with someone else. If the ring was made of gold, diamonds..that put them in a different social category than whose ring was made from hammered base metal. A signet ring with carved stone showed aristocracy or nobility, a signet ring with a glass intaglio, someone who wanted to be nobel, and then there was jewelry made of beads, leather, bone. But when we see those object displayed in a museum case, it tells us about who wore it, when, who they were, and who made it as well. That is a lot of story in one small artifact.That is what I want my jewelry to do.

But here are many more layers to the jewelry. One of the first stores I took my jewelry to, in Scottsdale,a very upscale boutique which sold to the old guard wealth and the 'new' pro athlete wealth had this to say. The owner said to me," Your work is beautiful, and I'll give it a try, but I'm telling you not to expect too much." "Why is that?" "Because my client is a very wealthy man who is buying jewelry for his wife or his girlfriend as a status symbol that reflects who he is and what he has. He wont understand your work." And he was right; that person wouldn't understand my work. My designs are built by old, european artisans, by hand, and it is about who people are , not just what they have. That was obvious in the first pieces.He didn't want to hear about the symbolism. He couldn't care less about the code of honor embedded in the metal work that represented loyalty, honour and success in life for those that embraced those old world and old school values. And I wanted women to wear it, not as a status symbol, not as an ornament telling the world what they had, but as statement about what they believed in and who they were on the inside. In a material world and a label conscious and consumer driven world, this was not what the stores wanted to hear- but the people that became my customers did.

I didn't and very rarely have my customers ask someone to buy them what they are going to wear. They choose how they are going to represent themselves. They don't ask for it as a gift, and if they have received it as gift- it is VERY personal. They buy it because they are going to wear it a LOT, not stick it in the safe for a special occasion.This is the kind of jewelry that's as personal a statement about who you are and what you believe in as a tattoo or a bumper sticker. the jewelry i create touches the skin; something I created that's about things that I believe in that you are sharing with the world when you walk out the door. That's personal. And how much more rewarding than to know I have been able to make people feel good? I'm always reminded of how a pet walks differently when they have a new collar; they strut and prance. That's how I see people when they put on my jewelry. They hold themselves differently. I means something to them and it feels good. I can't say how many times I've had someone say to me,"It feels so good on." Pretty cool.I had one man say to me after walking around the cases and looking at the jewelry," I've never seen jewelry with so much character." Wow. I was so honoured.

In my way I am saying,"We are all equal." Our values, our feelings , the way we treat one another, are all choices we make. Every day.Design should be functional, beautiful, and the most important thing to me....inspirational. It isn't just functional; it's meant to teach and inspire. It's about behaviour and not just objects. How does this 'thing' fit not only on you- but how does it fit into your life, and what does it say about you?

There are thousands of sofas, chairs, rings, bracelets, dresses, blouses, pants-that anyone on any given day can choose to own.To me- when I think of "own" I think of taking it into my life. It's not an authority over something else-it's a relationship between "that" and "me".It's about how I live with myself, in my world.