I read the BBC news online along with my other daily reads, the Brisbane Times, Boston.com, and the The New York Times (House Stalkers?). They expose me to news that I may not find in my daily hop around the blogs I enjoy, like this article about a kitty in Providence that can accurately predict the death of patients in the nursing home where he lives. I mean, these are things we need to know about (smiling). So I’m reading the BBC today and was very excited to find Nora de Rudder, a Belgian artist that uses natural objects in new and exciting ways, taking birds wings and oyster shells to create chandeliers and table lamps, for instance.
I find this fascinating, as I think many are afraid to explore other mediums, scared of the results or that if they aren’t mainstream, they won’t be able to earn a living through their work. I have so much to say on this subject, hours of conversation really, but I believe that we all need to design from the heart, not for the mart. I know we need to sell what we create, but you know what, money or function or popularity just can’t be the driving force behind all design because we need to leave something behind for our great grandchilden someday.
Imagine a world filled with dollar store plastic everything and McMansions, what will they think of our generation? That we were gluttons for filling our lives with sale items and poorly made garbage? Whenever I visit flea markets, I think about this. What are we creating now that will leave a positive impression in 100 years on the kind of generation we are today? Will they be inspired by our work in the way that we are inspired by Charles and Ray Eames?
This is precisely why designers like Nora de Rudder stand out from the rest for me. Her lighting is impressive, expressive, unique, and skillfully made. I may not own it because the wings do freak me out just a little bit, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it. And is her lighting being sold by the millions and marketed all over the world? No. Is she a household name? No. But did you know that the design museum in Gent, Belgium purchased 2 Wings table lamps for their permanent collection? Or that Philippe Starck ordered 6 Mussel chandeliers and 3 Wings chandeliers for the interior of the VIP lounge in a Beijing business club? So she is making a living. She didn’t go after the mainstream market, she is targeting the luxury and to the trade only markets since her collections are more couture than common. That’s what designers need to take a chance at and decide early on, which market they want to compete in and for what reason and of course, consider all the risks.
Rudder’s lighting is available via Cameron Peters in the UK if you are interested in learning more, but think for a moment about what Rudder will leave behind. Isn’t that something important to consider when we design – the impact is has on others?
I know, all this after posting about Martha Stewart products at Macy’s. But it shows you that I’m torn like so many of you are about what to support through my purchases and what not to support. And it’s hard. So for me, I try to live as balanced I can within the constraints of my budget. Yes, I can bring a canvas bag to the grocery store for food, I’ve been doing it since 1999, it’s no big deal. And yes, I can shop indie or for one of a kind products, which is why I find the affordable goods at Etsy so appealing. And I buy paintings from galleries to support artists that I’m fond of. And when I have extra money set aside, I’ll splurge on something like a Rudder light or something created by my artists friends in Germany. It’s all about balance and making sure that at least half of what I own could be passed on and appreciated by others. Make sense?
What are your thoughts on all of this?
(images from nora de rudder)