All Lovely Things is not just a book, it’s a journey. Your journey — a catalogue of important items and moments in your life. It’s an interactive guide to yourself. Most of all, it’s beautiful and fun.
Lea Redmond has used her unique talents to create a tangible collection of personal moments, which she uses to give her readers an opportunity to reflect and creatively explore their own moments in history.
With All Lovely Things you can organize and recreate your lifelong collections of objects and memories, and thanks to Redmond’s extraordinary talent at bringing the unusual to life, you can delve into the inner workings of your own past.
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What inspired All Lovely Things?
Since I was a child, I’ve always been drawn to material objects — making them, collecting them, telling stories with them. As I grew older, I became fascinated by the difference between beautiful, healthy objects (such as ceramic tea cups and backyard kale) and the more questionably good for us objects of industrial culture (such as disposable cups and junk food). I started to ask questions like: can I make — or find — objects that actually help create a more beautiful, peaceful world? I’ve made lots of things that try to do this via my studio, Leafcutter Designs, which is based in Berkeley, California.
How has art shaped your life?
Even though I’ve made things constantly since I was itty bitty, like pinch pots, origami boxes, and miniature paper models of soda machines — when I got to college I wanted to dive deep into books — Rosseau, Marx, Thoreau. I studied mostly Philosophy and Politics, and minored in Environmental Studies. I wrote lots of essays and learned how to work with ideas as a medium. Once I left academia and was left completely to my own devices, I returned to my endless love of making. But this time around, I began to infuse my objects and projects with (I hope!) strong concepts. With just one word I can sum up how art has shaped my life: meaning. Art—both experiencing it and making it—helps me ask and answer questions about the world, what we’re here for, what I’m here for, and how to make life on Earth more wonderful.
What’s your biggest success moment to date?
I’m going to share two: the first is the event that launched my business. The other is a quiet, personal moment of meaning. In 2008, I began a very quirky art project called the World’s Smallest Post Service. I would set up my tiny post office around town—uniform and doll desk and all—and transcribe letters for passers-by onto 1” stationery in miniscule writing. Then I’d send their tiny correspondence to it’s recipient with a magnifying glass. It was a wonderfully ridiculous thing to do, and ended up being one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve ever done! I didn’t intend to start a business, but my story ended up being featured on boingboing two weeks before Valentine’s Day 2009 and I made and sent over 1000 tiny love letters. Next, I quit my day job. I was very surprised that this art project turned into a viable business and today my studio sends over 5000 tiny mail pieces a year. My other big success moment was the time I drew a colorful hopscotch poem for a man I had a crush on. This wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill hopscotch. It stretched (on and off) for about a mile, all the way from his front door to a public rose garden, and inside each square was a word from a poem. He called me from the rose garden and said that it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for him. Success!
How do you think women can be more supportive of one another in the creative space?
Maybe I’m naïve or oblivious, but I haven’t especially noticed a difference between how men and women act in the world of creativity. I also only barely dip my toes into the art world, so I’m certainly no expert about that realm. Maybe I’ll just say that I think one of the most important things is to not be competitive. Even though arts funding is limited and museum commissions rare, I think keeping an attitude of abundance and cooperation is absolutely the only way to go. In the end, sharing resources and being helpful and supportive of each other only carries everyone to more promising places, and frankly, is a lot more rewarding and enjoyable. Furthermore, it’s often possible to round up one’s own version of funding and venue, and good advice from skilled peers is immeasurable helpful for that.
What women inspire you?
I instantly think of Ray Eames, her dedication to creativity and her delight in the everyday. The work she and her husband Charles did together inspires me to no end—such as their infamous Powers of Ten film—and, honestly, I daydream about having a creative collaborator that I’m also in love with. Wow! Georgia O’Keeffe was a childhood hero. When I was young, I mostly just thought her paintings were beautiful, but as an adult I especially admire her fierce independent spirit. I’m not great at keeping up with politics, but I think Amy Goodman (of Democracy Now!) is a superstar of news. She does her homework, her heart is obviously in the right place, and she really rocks it on air. I could never succeed in that world, so thank goodness she’s doing what she’s doing. It’s such important work. My favorite blogger, by far, is Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. She really gets to the heart of the matter, which is such a refreshing relief. Lastly, I am incredibly inspired by mothers. I don’t have children yet, but I am just awed by the patience and hard work of mothers everywhere, including my own.
What books or media have made an impact on your life?
Books are definitely my media of choice. Walden is essentially my version of a bible. When I was a college student, Martin Heidegger helped me think through the way people take things for granted through their everyday, habitual use of them. For example, a pen is so incredibly familiar to us—and we assume it so strongly—that we rarely stop and think about the pen itself. (Stopping to contemplate things holds the potential for insight and creativity.) David Abram’s fascinating book, The Spell of the Sensuous, sparked all sorts of ideas for me. But my favorite book is Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. In the chapter called “Seeing,” she explores perception as the infinitely curious phenomenon that it is. In my favorite scene, she attempts to “unpeach the peaches.” In other words, she tries to leave behind all of her assumptions about peaches and experience the peaches with fresh, childlike wonder. I feel like I am constantly trying to follow her lead—to squint a little, refocus my eyes, and see things anew.
What’s your favorite thing about yourself?
I seem to have an insatiable enthusiasm and energy for projects. I just go and go and go. I love it too much not to. And my soul needs it too much not to. Sometimes people ask me how I can be so disciplined about my work, as if that is the source of my productiveness. And I just laugh. It has nothing to do with discipline! As I hunch over my desk in the studio, or bury my nose into a book, I am having nothing but the grandest time ever.