DESIGN APPROACH AND PHILOSOPHY
IN JEWELRY DESIGN
The DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is very focused on teaching beaders and jewelry makers how to make choices. Choices about what materials to include, and not to include. Choices about strategies and techniques of construction. Choices about mechanics. Choices about aesthetics. Choices about how best to evoke emotions.
These choices must also reflect an understanding of the bead and its related components. How do all these pieces, in conjunction with stringing materials, assert their needs? Their needs for color, light and shadow. Their needs for durability, flexibility, drape, movement and wearability. Their needs for social or psychological or cultural or contextual appropriateness -- an appropriateness that has to do with satisfaction, beauty, fashion and style, as well as power and influence.
This DESIGN PERSPECTIVE contrasts with the more predominant Craft Approach, where the beader or jewelry maker merely follows a set of steps and ends up with something. Here, in this step-by-step approach, all the choices have been made for them. And this DESIGN PERSPECTIVE also contrasts with another widespread approach to beading and jewelry making – the Art Tradition – which focuses on achieving ideals of beauty, whether the jewelry is worn or not. Here the beader or jewelry maker learns to apply art theories learned by painters and sculptors, and assumed to apply equally to beads and jewelry, as well.
The Craft Approach and the Art Tradition ignore too much of the functional and contextual essence of jewelry. Because of this, they often steer the beader and jewelry maker in the wrong directions. Making the wrong choices. Exercising the wrong judgments. Applying the wrong tradeoffs between aesthetics and functionality and context.
The focus of the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is strategic thinking. At the core of this thinking are a series of design principles and their skillful applications. These principles go beyond a set of techniques. These principles and the strategies for applying them provide the beader and jewelry maker with some clarity in a muddled world.
Learning about Design begins with the belief that there are many different kinds of information that must come together and be applied to make a finished and successful piece of jewelry. It is impossible to clearly learn and integrate this information all at once.
When learned haphazardly or randomly, as most people do, it becomes problematic. It becomes more difficult or too confusing to successfully bring to bear all these kinds of things the beader or jewelry maker needs to know when designing and constructing a piece of jewelry in the moment. Thus, the beader and jewelry maker best learn all this related yet disparate information in a developmental order, based on some coherent grammar or set of rules of design. By learning within this organized structure and informational hierarchy, the jewelry artist best sees how everything interrelates and comes together. The designer develops the ability to decode expressive information, and to fluently organize and arrange it. This is how disciplinary literacy is developed within the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE.
So, we begin with a Core set of skills and concepts, and how these are interrelated and applied. Then we move on to a Second Set of skills and concepts, their interrelationships and applications, and identifying how they are related to the Core. And onward again to a Third Set of skills and concepts, their interrelationships and applications and relationship to the Second Set and the Core, and so forth.
In the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE, “Jewelry” is understood as Art, but is only Art as it is worn. It is not considered Art when sitting on a mannequin or easel. Because of this, the principles learned through Craft or Art are important, but not sufficient for learning good jewelry design and fashioning good jewelry.
Learning good jewelry design creates its own challenges. All jewelry functions in a 3-dimensional space, particularly sensitive to position, volume and scale. Jewelry must stand on its own as an object of art. But it must also exist as an object of art which interacts with people (and a person’s body), movement, personality, and quirks of the wearer, and of the viewer, as well as the environment and context. Jewelry serves many purposes, some aesthetic, some functional, some social and cultural, some psychological.
The focus of the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is on the parts. How do you choose them? How should they be used, and not be used? How do you assemble them and combine them in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts? How do you create and build in support systems within your jewelry to enable that greater movement, more flexibility, better draping, longer durability? How do you parsimoniously use all these parts, making them resonate and evoking that emotional response from your audience to your style, vision and creative hand that you so desire?
The beader and jewelry maker are seen as multi-functional professionals, similar to an architect who builds houses and an engineer who builds bridges. In all these cases, the professional must bring a lot of very different kinds of skills and abilities to bear, when constructing, whether house or bridge or jewelry. The professional has to be able to manage artistic design, functionality, and the interaction of the object with the person and that person’s environment.