In design I often turn to nature and science for inspiration – the intricacies in the natural world have been a wonder since the beginning of time. There is always much more to be seen than what one can take in at first glance. Nature begins at the micro level with the endless intricacies of a single cell structure and then we swing our perspective to a macro view and we again see the earth and solar system as a whole with infinite detail. Evolution, not unlike design, is defined as “the process by which an organism [or object] becomes more sophisticated over time and in response to its environment.” Good design is similar, in that it’s a process that fulfills a need by striking a careful balance between practicality and beauty. When we approach design we love the idea of beginning with shapes in our natural world and our bodies - in part, we're learning from evolution’s results. We like to see it as distilling a complex idea into its most refined and functional place.
Image above: A gothic buttress in the 12th century Tour de Constance. From our travel archives.
Sometimes, the initial inspiration can be seen quite clearly. Our crystal droplet satin belt, for example, was born from watching water droplets form on a window in a rainstorm.
The thousands of tiny Swarovski crystals are reminiscent of the delicate random patterns in splayed droplets of water on glass. Each is rounded yet varied in size, each individually captures the light and creates a pattern that is at once uniform and unique, beautiful yet ephemeral.
Yet often the inspiration is even subtler – the rounded shape and uniform patterns of water droplets can be seen more abstractly in our delicate pearl lace. If we look past droplets themselves, or imagine those droplets are bubbles of air, we are left with an intricate interlocking web of space between them.
The repeating geometric pattern, when realized in woven pearlescent Lurex yarn, reveals a pattern whose empty void is as important as its physical presence. A fabric created from an intricate web of yarns reminds us of suspended oyster pearls and is a perfect union of modern, streamlined simplicity and the enigmatic beauty and intricacies in the natural world.
Our interest in natural forms can be found within the very bones of our designs, in the geometry of the garment patterns themselves. Leonardo da Vinci seemed to explore this concept with his sketch of the Vitruvian Man. The sinew-ed Renaissance male body is at once sketched in broad movement and all of its complexity and then at the same time it is powerfully abstracted to the geometry of a circle and square. The simultaneity of the composition -- at once detailed and abstract -- is its power and beauty.
When we approach the design process we usually start with conscious research of nature, art or literature and unconscious research pulled from life experience. After this brainstorming we can begin to assemble a collage of disparate parts and then step back to discover unlikely connections and begin to assemble a coherent visual language. For Da Vinci I imagine that his ideas might have started with subconscious impressions of movements in his body and the bodies around him. As he began to sketch the human figure Da Vinci saw endless geometries. He analyzed the triangles in the arms and legs, the plane across the hips, parallel lines connecting the knees to the elbows and wrists to ankles and began to sift through his mind all details, as if each movement and body position inked a line in space, and the combination of all those ink lines left solid shapes -- the resulting outline of the circle and square.
In our creative work we find details must be realized before a concept can be refined and uncluttered. Once all this work has been done a timeless base will emerge and, if you are lucky, the timeless base will be the site of many future innovations.