This is the final part of our lovely interview with Elisabeth Parker the founder of PARKERWORKS.
In this final part, we asked Elisabeth a view question about her thoughts on design and how she sees her objects interact with the people they are made for.
Being a designer and sharing your creative point-of-view can be as vulnerable as it is inspiring, are you ever afraid of failure?
No, not really with my designs. Sometimes I work really hard on something and once it’s done I just can’t find a way to love it! When that happens I just assume that it wasn’t ready to be finished yet. For example, I spent a week sculpting a form for a lamp a few months ago and when it was finished it just didn’t speak to me the way I had hoped. And now I’ve made it larger and it’s a strange table leg.
But I do fear not being able to support myself financially through this work. And I fear sending out work to people and finding out that somehow it has broken or not performed as they had wished. That’s been pretty rare fortunately and the people I’ve met have been unbelievably friendly and kind when something does happen. Maybe they sense how mortified I am and try to make it easier!
In your opinion, what are the qualities of good design?
For me, the best designs don’t just successfully serve a function; they bring people alive, whether through reflection or being present in their bodies. I appreciate designs that speak to our history, or to a feeling of loneliness, or that poke a little fun at what it is to be a person on this planet. Or that somehow help a person to be present as a person sitting, or looking, or tying shoelaces. As though the designer was saying something about joy, or about time, or about family, and captured that well enough in a form and material that it reminded you of life.
And it is entirely possible that, like finding beauty, the ability to encounter this kind of significance is in the eye of the beholder! I used to buy all the bruised apples at the supermarket because I felt sorry for them and knew it was unlikely that anyone else would want them. So clearly I do a lot of reading into the physical world… but sometimes I get emails from people saying they are just moved by a certain thing I have made, or from shop owners who say customers laugh when they see my lamps. I couldn’t hope for more.
Whom are your objects made for?
Well, firstly, right now they’re probably made for me. I moved into a new apartment in May and am slowly furnishing it only with things I have made, so when I make coat hooks it’s because I needed coat hooks!
But, more than anything, they’re for the people who are moved by them, as I mentioned above. I feel like my process is a bit idiosyncratic, and like the idea that people who buy the pieces have the same kind of attraction to simplicity, or even humor, or similar sources of inspiration.
What are you going to focus on next?
Right now I’m working on a new line of sculpted furniture; benches and tables mostly. But, as with everything, my work is largely unplanned so I don’t really know until it appears! Ultimately, though, I find the casting work very rewarding; these include the designs for the Buddy Lamps, the Tallomet Sconce, the Marasai Tables, etc. I will probably continue with that making process for as long as it can support me.
Oh, and I’m designing a house that will be built next summer. That is another significant part of my work life currently!
Dear Elisabeth, thank you so much for taking so much time for us! We really feel you opened up a door into your world and allowed us to take a glimpse into your personal life and creative process. Knowing how attentional you choose, create, think and evaluate your objects adds a whole new appreciation for your work! We love how you care about your customer and how you want to create a connection between the physical and emotional space – between your objects and your clients! We wish you all the best, you are a women that has inspired us and showed me personal (as a woman) that yes, a woman really can do this work!