A woman that can do the work.
This is the second part of the interview I had with founder and designer Elisabeth Parker. In my previous post, Elisabeth gave us an inside into her personal design and work life, her sources of inspiration and how she would define her design style.
“Without roughness, there would be no elegance, and elegance defines roughness, essentially.”
This quote by Elisabeth beautifully describes her work and motivation to find the perfect balance between distraction and balance within her designs, which we will take a closer look at in this blog-post.
Thank you, Elisabeth, for continuing to tell us more about your work. When choosing materials for your designs, what are some key factors you are looking for?
I have always been addicted to liquids that harden! It’s such a surprise when you pull a form out of the mold, and I make imprecise molds so that I never know what will appear. That’s the unbelievable joy of it – sometimes I find myself doing a little dance after seeing something for the first time! So I work as much as possible with concrete and plaster. And the furniture maker I trained under worked a lot with walnut and brass, so I have come to love them as soft, forgiving materials. Those are basically the only four I work with. Anything else would just offer too many options. And, as much as possible, I look for materials I can personally manipulate. When I buy a bell or a stool during my travels, I really appreciate seeing the marks from the person who made it, as well as the wear that has resulted from many years of use. The idea that I am sending a story out to other people is integral to my process, and those materials allow for it nicely.
What is your secret on staying inspired and energized to constantly create new and beautiful designs?
There have been times when I have been unable to create. Of course, it’s completely personal, but for me, it’s very difficult to make work if there is not a feeling of calm in my non-work life. Now that I know that, I am quite careful to keep my personal life simple, with lots of routines, and a lot of solitude and stillness. I don’t know where the designs come from, so the quiet helps them arrive from the back of my brain. Sometimes I sit still for an hour with tea just waiting for it to arrive. But controlling the physical environment in which I exist and my daily activities is probably the most predictable way for me to stay inspired. And with energy, well, that’s a little mysterious! Basically, I just trust that whatever I want to work on is what I should be working on. And, you know, I just show up and keep trying no matter what. That’s really important.
What do you enjoy most while designing and creating?
The surprises. I rarely draw designs. I never measure them. I don’t make digital models. Everything is carved with my hands and intuition, and often I have no idea what a thing will look like until I realize it’s somehow finished. That moment of recognition that the finished form has appeared, and the trust that led up to that moment is rewarded, is really satisfying. It kind of helps me to trust a little more in the things I can’t see or understand; to see that things have their own way of working out eventually.
Do you have a personal favorite object? What makes this object special to you?
I have a favorite stool that I bought on a roadside in Kenya. It’s carved from one piece of wood and is a little crooked, and it’s barely big enough to sit on. In my life now, it serves one purpose: it’s where I sit to lace my shoes before going out. It’s perfect for that! I love it for the nail marks in it, for the way years of being in the mud allowed a patina to develop only above the mud line, and for its singular purpose. How wonderful that a stool can exist only for lacing up shoes. And, I’ve noticed that when people come over if we will get along well they will use the stool, which is a great litmus test!
Part one of this interview you can find here