One of A+A’s favorite artisans — and one of the first we wrote about — is Justyn Livingston. Her work is inspired by her extensive travels and the things she’s encountered along the way. A few weeks back, we asked her for a few words on how she’s come to create her very fine lines of tile at Metolius Ridge Artisan Tile. Happily, she’s obliged us here:
With luck and opportunity, I have traveled to many countries: Romania, Tonga, Central and South America, the former USSR, parts of Scandinavia, and much of central Europe. I’ve searched for local crafts and folk art — especially the old traditional works — exploring peasant museums and working with local craftspeople.
With a background in textile design, I’ve naturally gravitated toward repeating shapes and how other cultures mix patterns. I’ve developed an international vocabulary by distilling this imagery that I then use in designing new patterns and collections. A blog once used the term World Rustic to describe my work. I’m so grateful for all of these adventures that fuel my muse.
I don’t believe there are truly ‘new’ designs being created in the world. I think there is a communal soup kitchen of universal symbols and shapes from which designers and artists draw, and then interpret. This is certainly the way I design and create. I notice something—anything—from a rug, to a building, to a textile, to a flowing stream…which leads me to think of some shape(s), design, or pattern. This begins the sketching process and “interpretation.”
I reshape it and make it mine, in my hand, an amalgamation of all that I have seen. I mix and match with other elements –“playing,” until I feel I have achieved some form of visual balance. It is nothing totally new, but a new way of expressing something that already exists. Most of us are drawn to the familiar. Yet we also want to see something with fresh eyes, something new.
How do we as designers and artists find that sweet spot in this balance? I think good art and design does that, without becoming too trendy. In this digitized era, I believe we are particularly drawn to the hand-made; an aesthetic centered on the appreciation of irregularity—that imperfection in and of itself is beautiful.
In designing new tile collections, I strive to consider these design constructs to create products that withstand multiple applications, both in the physical and aesthetic realm, over time. I’d like to think my clients invest in this timeless material as they do art, to love and cherish for years to come.
The images in the slideshow below are from an in-process collection of tile designs inspired by French brocade embroidery, and carpets from Persia and Afghanistan.
For more, go to: http://metoliusridgeartisantile.com/