Adrift. A few weeks into this surreal COVID-19 time in our collective lives, and my quest for the perfect word to describe this situation is finally complete. There are myriad ways that this feeling of being adrift manifests for each of us: for me, it was neither about the human contact (or lack thereof), nor the physical drifting apart—or even the sudden, rude and complete stoppage of travel, that great escape.
I felt it most keenly in the time I didn't get to spend in a museum or gallery, or the glimpse of a beautiful piece of furniture in a store, in the tactile deprivation of a visit to a flea market to hunt down some pewter, even that moment of ‘let me wander through a bookstore to turn the pages of the latest design book.' It dawned on me that what I missed were objects—my essentials were those small and not-so-small pieces of design created by humans. All the work, love, ideas, talent, craft and skill that manifests itself into an objet, a building, a painting, an illustration, a tapestry…that was what seemed to be important in affirming that I was not adrift but anchored to these markers of my life. Packing to decamp from my apartment in Soho (a hotspot during these COVID-19 days) for the fresh air of my parents' lakeside home, I thankfully had the foresight to gather a few of my beloved objects. I didn't know how long we would be gone, but I did know one thing for certain: I needed small comforts to get me through the foreseeable future and as a designer those comforts lay in these objects.
So, what did I pack? My Olivetti ‘Valentine' typewriter in a fire engine red (a gift from my husband on my 30th birthday). It was this beauty (designed by Ettore Sottsass) that had first made me want to be a writer. Bringing it along would restore some of my old aspirations and motivation. Next up, tiny pieces of pottery made by Makepeace United—abstract whimsical shapes, utterly non-functional and utterly inspiring. In addition: a watercolour by the lovely Fiona Corsini who paints her Tuscan landscapes and local flora with such love, a moment to transport myself to a country I adore. Plus, a few design inspiration books—the standout, which always brings me joy, is Abstract City by my friend, the uber-talented Christoph Niemann. This book about New York City is the perfect reminder that this great city awaits when this is all over. And lastly, one simple, small ceramic water cup that I cannot work without. The John Derian and Astier de Villatte collaboration that was gifted to me by John. I have had it for three years and it has become a ritual to have it beside me every morning as I settle into my workday.