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Complex Networks + Good Design Soil

Posted on: Monday, April 29, 2013


Dutzi Design's new mesh bags / ethically made in Mexico


Sometimes I feel as if my good fortune is going to run out. I am inundated with so much creative intrigue and design inspiration all of the time, that again, I feel guilty about being consumed by all of this beauty and re-appropriation.

My activist self encourages me to get real and dig into some of the unspeakable tragedies that are unfolding all around us. Tugging at the (vanity) tassels that we adorn ourselves with in the act of trying to put on a good show.

Complex networks and dirty rich soil keep me grounded and rooted in a reality that is both optimistic and artistically sober. I could go off the deep end more often (to explore) but how would I function and cultivate what I need to?

Holding it all together (image via Coastal Residence)

I remind myself to keep focused on both the grit and the shimmer – blended together in an earth-mix that reminds me of why these things cannot and should not be separated out. 



In the process, I keep my eyes and ears open for signs that link it all together. If you start with good soil and materials, the rest should follow. This is the inherent luxury of our time.

Healing Our Beautiful Wounds

Posted on: Monday, April 22, 2013

(photo by Mark Borthwick)

I sometimes feel guilty about promoting, sharing, and creating 'beautiful' things as this often seems misleading in a world fraught with conflict, environmental stress, and dire statistics. Being Pollyannaish is really not helpful on any front these days.

It was over a year ago that I stopped posting on my blog Ecco*Eco, perhaps with the idea that it was time to get more serious about ideas that truly mattered. I keep coming back, though, to images and global projects that are meant to inspire or encourage us to keep pushing onwards for solutions and initiatives that might bring us closer or within range of a more cohesive existence.


Waking up with botanicals in Sofia (photo by Abigail Doan)

I do this as a mother who has no choice but to carve out time to think about ways to envision the world differently. I invite others to do so, and in the process, become more passionate about the notion that beauty should be available for all. This is not about privilege, luxury, or even proximity to beautiful things. It is about embracing the ugly, the overlooked, and the cast-off. Beauty binds us together and make us human – or at least more aware of what we could do and be – bound together.


Nanna Hänninen 'Prayer Tree I', 2012 

With rape, pillaging, and excessive greed now crippling our spirits, beauty is like a salve for our wounds. Nature knows this and is persistent (patient) with every twist and turn that we take. It is my wish that we can see beauty as normalcy and not as something to exploit

This summer I will release my first printed edition of ideas related to fiber, lost artifacts, and the beautiful. The book will be published on 100% recycled paper and available via special order. Details to come. It will be my small attempt at creating beauty that is tangible as well as (creatively) optimistic in outlook.

Carpet of Life: Co-Design and Recycling

Posted on: Friday, April 19, 2013

(image courtesy of Carpet of Life)

For a review of a fantastic textile recycling initiative between Amsterdam, creative clients globally, and rural Morocco's artisans/weavers, please enjoy my latest story for Dwell.com

An excerpt: "Clients who commission one-of-a-kind pieces by Carpet of Life often provide old clothes from their own personal wardrobes and/or household tea towels, bed linens, heirloom stashes, and even recycled plastics. Designers have even been known to recycle a previous season's collection or graduate thesis project to celebrate and experience their former creations underfoot."

Suspended Beliefs

Posted on: Monday, April 15, 2013

Experimentation with vintage plaited rope on my terrace studio in Sofia 
(photo by Abigail Doan)

Sometimes I go into otherworldly states here in Bulgaria. The environs allow me to drift and experiment in ways that I do not always do in the U.S. or elsewhere. I guess that I approach installation projects back at home with strategies that are directly linked to my environmental concerns. Here in Sofia, I am sort of suspended in time and space gazing into my own personal belief system. Perhaps this is why I am so drawn to living here – it allows me to reflect on how and why we live with set limitations as well as ghostly addictions.


This week I am finally getting around to reading the book noted above. I was so struck by these images of Eva Hesse and her work while doing my Sunday morning reading. There is both a weight and a weightless – all at once. How to do this with fiber? Something I am thinking a lot about.

Facade of a house in my neighborhood, Lozenets, Sofia
(photo by Abigail Doan)

And it just so happened that when I was out for a walk yesterday, I came across this neighborhood house enveloped in fiber or vegetation – similar to the way that Eva is enshrouded in her resting pose. These sorts of synchronicities happen all of the time here. I love the way that the blooming bush is like a whippersnapper at the foot of the facade.

Imaginary Meetings by Riitta Päiväläinen (images courtesy of the artist)

And yet again, designer friend Titania Inglis introduced me to more interesting art/fashion visuals via a link to images by Riitta Päiväläinen. The Finnish photographer uses discarded clothing from second-hand shops and flea markets to craft these scenarios. See more here.


This one turns my beliefs and fears completely inside out. 

It is for both the living and the supernatural.

Hovering and blurring the edges. Proof of some sort.

Just what I needed to press on for the future.

Exploring the Fringe of Craft

Posted on: Saturday, April 13, 2013

New Friends woven wall panel (image courtesy of Beklina)

Contemporary craft designs are no longer simply objects for interior adornment or sculptural creations hovering on the fringe. Handmade work adds authenticity to our living spaces in ways that provide texture, unexpected contrast, as well as an opportunity to highlight artistic narrative and exquisite cultural traditions. Be it an artisan-made wedding pillow that links us to the customs of rural Morocco or a a retro-style wall hanging that softens the edges of our day-to-day existence – living artfully with craft might take you beyond your comfort zone for some much-needed design relief and timeless armchair travel.


New Friends Woven Wall Hangings / Beklina

Alexandra Segreti and Kelly Rakowski are the cool design duo behind New Friends, two aesthetes with a shared a love of textiles and eccentric visuals. Their shaggy wall panels incorporate a range of fibers from wool, paper and fabric remnants – all hand woven by the designers themselves in Brooklyn, NY. These colorful, eco-friendly, and highly-textured art creations are available in limited edition quantities. Available at Beklina.



Chocolate Bairak Serving Platter / BulgarUSA

BulgarUSA has been a true pioneer in collaborating with artisans and designers in Eastern Europe, and their bold ceramic collections feature modern interpretations of traditional styles and regional motifs. This Chocolate Bairak platter was created in a family run workshop in Troyan, Bulgaria, and serves as an eye catching tabletop expression. Each unique piece is handcrafted by talented makers who are keepers of both cultural and community wisdom.



Berber Wedding Pillow / Kahina Giving 

Kahina Giving's stunning pillows are all hand-woven by Berber women in the Village of Meryrte, in Morocco's Mid-Atlas mountains. This latest Berber Wedding Pillow is made out of local virgin wool and embellished with symbolic cotton embroidery and sequins meant to ward off the evil eye. Traditionally made along with textured blankets as part of a wedding dowry, the women gather together in groups prior to the big event to weave and embroider as an occasion for imparting advice to the bride to be. Embroidery designs and exact sizes may vary from pillow to pillow.
Ramsus Ceramic Vases / Mondays Projects

Jennifer Fiore of Mondays Projects created this vase series as an homage to architect Rasmus Peterson and his famed Rock Garden and Museum in Oregon. The dark brown and red clay used is hand-formed into pebble shapes to create the unique surface of the vessels. Mondays Projects' designs are all created by hand in Brooklyn by the collective of Jennifer Fiore, Nina Lalli, and Signe Tberg. The trio is  committed to creating one-of-a-kind, textured pieces that are lead-free and food-safe. Their Tumblr blog is pretty rocking, too.


Rachel Whiteread : Drawings

Posted on: Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I love these 'drawings' by Rachel Whiteread.


Fresh Views + Angles

Posted on: Monday, April 08, 2013

Loving this (headdress) styling by Katharina Domokosch
BA (Hons) Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear collection 2012

Today marks the start of a weekly post series called, 'Make It Monday'. This is really meant as a way to formally share some of what is inspiring me in the studio and beyond. I also think that this will be an ideal way for me to launch into each week with my sleeves rolled up and an open mind about new views and angles on my work.

Join me each Monday for some visual and conceptual art + fashion + fiber  fodder – even if you know that you can make it all the way to Friday on your very own.


Designer friend Titania Inglis sent over this snapshot from a recent editorial in Surface Magazine. I think that the layout is brilliant and definitely in line with some performative pieces that I have been dreaming about. More on this soon.


These modular poufs and area rugs from Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola for Gan are also inspiring me to think creatively about how I arrange the objects in my home as well as the flow of traffic in each room.

Louis Reith / Untitled Collages (2011)

*Note to self to begin making collages again.


Definitely need to consider more colorful and multi-dimensional bonbons in my life. 
I love this interview with Ana Kras in The WILD Magazine.


I am also revisiting how amazing these found posters / paper collages from the streets of Sofia are. Thinking long and hard about new ways to use these backdrops in the photographing of my fiber forms. 

You can see some previous images here.

Off we go into the wilderness and vast terrain of a new week.

Winter to Spring : Nomad Archive

Posted on: Monday, April 01, 2013


In preparation for my transition to Sofia, Bulgaria, for Spring/Summer 2013, I decided to photograph some of the fiber forms in my studio with new backdrops. I did this partly because I sometimes get very nostalgic for hand-crafted work that I have to leave behind – particularly during this four to five year period when my family and I are living overseas.

 

These images are ideas that I can essentially take with me as visual touchstones while on the road. Given that I have multiple new projects underway, it is always good to reminded of where I have been and what might unfold – naturally, and in a new context.


Stay tuned for more details on what is in the works during the months to come.


(all photos by Abigail Doan)

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