In our day to day lives, how often do we pause, and take a break from what we are doing? We might have stopped ‘working’ during our lunch break or during that commute. But are we ever pausing, stopping our train of thought and taking our minds elsewhere? That time in between is as important to our health as any other.
Taking a pause from the everyday, is personal. Staring out of the window on our way home; people watching at the cafe; waiting for the bath to run. In a world so caught up in social media we tend to spend these moments glued to our screens, absorbing blue light through our retinas. There’s a generation, or possibly two, that need to re-train at taking a break. That break can be momentary - a lunch break without your phone and enjoying the company of your colleagues. Or it could mean a month away in the wifi-redundant countryside. Whatever it is, it is as important to our physical and mental health as anything is - detrimental to our existence and condition.
These moments may come in waves, as we take our routine stroll alongside the river, reflecting as the water does. For that moment we’re trying not think about what emails we need to reply to, or if our ex is seeing someone new. Instead enjoying the flow of water, watching the birds swooping down to the surface, wondering where the river leads. It’s those small things - they seem insignificant when in the office and the end of the world is encroaching as the hands on the clock reach that hour. But really, who is to say what details are more important than others. You might know how much mega data your phone can hold, but do you know the shape of oak leaf?
Take time to explore these things and experience what is in front of you. This is what Maria Black’s latest collection wants you to enjoy... a pause. Each piece is carefully crafted to evoke the feeling of calmness and nurtures the soul with every glimmer. The baroque pearls, wonderfully unexpected in shape mirror the course of nature… no two are alike. And much like shapes in nature, although unique, the jewellery can be teamed with anything. Wear those pearls with a ring from Disruption: a symbiosis between nature and our hard edge lives in the city.
Q & A with Maria Black about A PAUSE
Let’s start with how you like to take a break/pause. What do you do if you want to switch your mind off from work, social media or just the drama of life in the city?
My favourite off switch is going to the ocean. I have always found the sound of the sea, the breaking of waves extremely soothing. When you live in a city you don’t realise how much you miss the horizon until you break away from it. Constant impressions, noises and judgement calls are put on hold and the mind calms.
Do you have a favourite place to go and nurture your brain?
My family’s summer house in Gilleleje, which is a small fishing village right at the top of Sealand, is my ultimate wind down. I can breathe, think and relax. I’ve been coming there since I was a child visiting my grandparents, so it has a magical effect on me. I think a lot of people return to childhood places for tranquility, it’s the need to connect with a more pure and simple version of yourself.
Where do you feel most inspired, away from working?
I am most inspired out of my studio. Creativity is a visual identity for me and I am most inspired when I am not stressed or have too many projects. My ideas and drives derive from my personal life and feelings. What I see in the world, how I feel the world and the sum of all that translates into a small story of celebration, a homage or my own historic account of my reality. The best time is in the morning in bed, with my eyes closed. In my mind I can translate all those impressions and create free from restrictions.
Your Disruption collection was based on a piercing system, and the earrings were made to look like solid bars going through the ears. One can see how that then evolved into the Piercing collection. Was there a natural progression from this into the Pause collection? Or is there sometimes a new, almost random, starting point that doesn’t reference any of your previous work?
There is always a journey for me from collection to collection. I was fascinated by the piercing look and culture and actually had that as my inspiration for 3 collections back to back. It started with the Helix and Stellar collections in 2016, where I focused on the bar and ball look. I translated that into a more refined look that retained some of the rough feel, but was abstract and more feminine. For Disruption I was fascinated by the ‘stretched earlobe’ look and was working on the more clean and androgynous aspect of the piercing culture. I was a part of that urban culture vibe, so it was natural to me to focus on urban culture with Heroes, more specifically I was inspired by East London Grandmas. There is a very distinct look to the ladies in East London with hoops, chains and signet rings as their favourite go to jewellery. I was working in this ‘Grandma and Grandpa’ universe which obviously translates so well to the younger generations. We all got our first jewellery from our grandparents, it’s a means of inspiration that most of us don’t think about. With Heroes I celebrated the Urban Grandma but I had felt that for a long time. Sometimes in life we don’t get the chance for a slow smooth graduated switch. I wanted something more unexpected; to combine Urban Grandma to the other Grandma, Country Grandma, more specifically the sea and the feeling I had in the late summer evenings in GIlleleje when I was with my own Grandparents. The slow pace, the long sleep-ins, walks along the coastline picking up stones and shells for keepsakes, flicking through art books and eating ice cream. My Granddad showing me how I could make bracelets from twining wild flowers together. That is what A PAUSE is about. That feeling of utter calm, being present and being close to nature. We are constantly online and available so 2019 is about a journey into nature and softness and to show that you can combine street life with slow life. To me the Heroes collection gets a breath of fresh sea air from the soft features from A PAUSE. We are all the sum of different things and that is why we should embrace the nuances.
Your jewellery can be worn by anyone, of any age, gender and status (the age range of your customers so far, I’ve heard, is already 13 - 68!) when traditionally jewellery tended to denote these things. How do you think it’ll be worn in the future, in 1000 years say?
Everything evolves. We have to and so will jewellery. I suspect that a 1000 years from now jewellery as we know it will be changed beyond recognition. So what we take for granted now, could be a mystery to them. I suspect my twirl earrings (which are hard to decode wearability from even now) will find themselves stuck in a button hole somewhere! That is what is fascinating with metals, you can chop them up and reassemble them. I would love to see how my jewellery was translated. I think they will be fascinated by how we made it by hand as 1000 years from now as I believe we will be 3D printing everything we need.
Staying in the year 3019, then, how do you think people will take a pause?
The only way the human race can survive now is by developing tech with environmental awareness. I hope that we will be more aware of ourselves and our surroundings, but I doubt a pause in the year 3019 is that different to a pause in 2019. To stop, take a deep breath and be present.
And now back in time... It’s been said that humans have been wearing jewellery for over 40,000 years. What is it about wearing jewellery that makes us feel good, or continue to do it throughout history, do you think?
The human race relies on social interactions to survive. In older times we used jewellery to display wealth and social status so when you met a new person they knew how to perceive you. We still do that to a certain extent, but now we also wear jewellery to convey more nuanced pictures of; who we are, who we look up to, where we have been and who we care about. I believe we will continue to do so because it is in our nature to communicate.
Even though your latest collection is very modern, it evokes something timeless. Perhaps it’s the imperfect pearls without a need for them to be perfectly spherical. Have you used gems in this way before?
My signature design style is very sleek and modern. It has been since I started the brand in 2010 and I think that is why men are gravitating towards my jewellery as well as women. I shy away from the overly adorned look, but I found it immensely satisfying to offset my look with the abstract and odd shaped baroque pearls. I have worked extensively with geometry in the past and nature is the best mathematician when it comes to geometry and repetition. Nature can also produce uniquely shapes objects and it’s this perfection/imperfection that draws the viewer in. Take a snowflake. Not 2 are alike, unique in every way, but when you zoom in on the snowflake the geometric structure inside is flawless. That’s why I choose to use baroque pearls instead of round pearls. It made more sense somehow. Designers we are often expected to stay ‘true’ to our look, but at the same time reinvent ourselves. I can only speak for me, but I am always changing and developing, and so are my designs. I do not find the same things beautiful today, as I did 10 years ago, so I have reinvented myself and my style in different shapes and forms many times, as I have changed. That is the whole reason life is so enthralling. What will happen next?