MEET THE DESIGNER:
MELANIE EDMUNDS, MWEYA
Through careful curation, we hand-pick pieces that are truly one of a kind. This week we were able to catch up with Melanie Edmunds, the artist mastermind behind jewelry brand Mweya, before her trip to Cape Town. We discussed her creation process, inspiration and much more.
54kibo: From art historian to jewelry maker, what inspired that transition?
ME: Back in middle and high school I would always make my own jewelry and sell it. I have always been drawn to designing with my hands. I love building things from scratch [...] sometimes you're inspired to just make things for yourself because it's something you want and can't find.
When I returned from my first trip to Johannesburg I was thinking a lot about the things that inspired me . Being that I work in the arts, everything is very visceral, so I have very heightened senses of sounds, colors, and tastes. I love food and wine, and everything I have a sensory reaction to gets ingrained in my brain. So I started thinking about colors from when I was in Joburg, like the gold in the landscape, all of the sounds that I heard in the music. The percussions, the inflections in voices and the dialects. All of the richness in colors and sounds around me.
Every sensory aspect of that trip, I was reflecting upon and then [I realized] I didn't bring home a single, meaningful piece of jewelry. I have my hair shaved really low and I'm a person who loves to accessorize. I love a good piece of statement jewelry. So I wanted to try my hand at designing something for myself. Just one piece that incorporates elements of these experiences [...]. Once I sat down and started making the first piece it started flowing like water. There were so many incredible experiences there and if I took all of them, I would be able to create a new piece. And that was how this line, collection and business came together.
54kibo: What is your creative process from inception to final product?
ME: A lot of people who are makers go through a rigorous process of designing, where there's sketching and laying out involved. I don't do any of that, for me it's all sensory. I conceive a concept in my mind then I think of the elements that I'd need to design it. What fibers to I need? What sort of textures do I want to incorporate? What type of color palette do I want to use? And then I'll start shopping for those things. Since it isn't sketched out in my brain, it doesn't have to be a particular color or metal. When I see it, I know it. When I see that color, when I feel that material, I know that that's the piece I want to design. So it more about taking a bunch of different elements and trial and error and either making something or realizing that it's something I don't want to use. I just recreate until it becomes the perfect piece that speaks to me.
54kibo: Tell us more about your upcoming South Africa trip?
ME: It's both business and leisure. I am an art historian and I daylight as an art advisor. I work for this really awesome tech start up called Artsy, it's a website for users to discover and create art online. I'm often asked to speak at international art fairs and art institutions and I'll be speaking at the Cape Town Art Fair about art in the digital age. So it's part business and part leisure. It's a one day event and I'll be there for 10 days, so the rest of the time I'll be frolicking around Jo'burg and Cape Town and just being inspired and maybe coming up with new ideas. I'll be taking in the people, sounds, music, food and all of that good stuff. This will be my second trip in 2.5 years.
54kibo: What excited you about working with 54kibo?
ME: What didn't? The concept alone is so fascinating to me. Like I said I'm someone who has such an eye and appreciation for design and art. My house looks like a museum [...]. The opportunity to have access to all of this incredible, handmade work, [...] It was two-fold, I could, selfishly, buy things for myself, which I'm always looking to do. But to also have such an incredible, beautiful, sophisticated space to be able to showcase my products was a no-brainer for me. I'm so grateful you conceptualized this brilliant site.
54kibo: What are some of your favorite products on the site?
ME: The Modern Gesture Woven Necklace Pendant Light in Cobalt is so fabulous. I love things that are sculptural. If it's sculptural in any sense, I want it in my home. The fact that it has moving parts and that I can design it in a way that works for me, it's the best thing I've ever seen. Next is the Tana Bath Towel in Grey. It's so gorgeous. And last is the AAKS Baw Pot Shoulder bag. It's so charming. So I have something that's an accessory and things for my home. I'm a big home design person.