Behind The Balance Collection

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I started working on the first designs and ideas for the Balance Collection nearly nine months ago and even after all that time of reflecting, planning, and creating, I still haven't fully articulated my thoughts behind the collection.

Why? Well, it's a lot to unpack and sort through. The concept of balance is complex and contentious, especially when it comes to "finding balance". Just google "work life balance" and you'll get a slew of op-eds, tips, and life hacks. Some say it isn't possible, others say it's necessary, so I've been exploring what balance actually means and how it practically applies to my life.

It's also very personal. As an artist, I know I need to share the reasons why I make the work I do, but as a business owner, I sometimes feel like I need to remove myself from the product and focus on the customer. Finding that balance between artist and entrepreneur is a struggle in itself. On top of all that, sorting through all these ideas about balance and trying to express my thoughts about them requires a lot of emotional energy that, at the end of the day, feels too exhausting to tackle. 

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So why "balance"? Because it's something I've been struggling with all year.

At the beginning of 2017, I decided that planning a wedding, gut renovating an Airstream and doubling my business was toootally doable. Who needs free time anyways? So every week this year, I've spend my weekdays trying to keep up with Vacilando, my weeknights emailing caterers and my weekends building my future home on wheels from scratch. Unfortunately that's meant that my social life, time to explore hobbies and relaxing do-nothing Sundays have fallen by the wayside. Safe to say, my life this year is not balanced.

After my first overwhelmed, exhausted, almost-meltdown, I realized I need to do something to balance the non-stop pace of life. So I started adding little things into my week to counter the big, overwhelming things. Yoga twice a week, Wednesday date nights, a consistent and natural skincare routine, drinking less alcohol and more tea. I suppose you'd call this "self care", but for me, these little things that make me a little stronger, happier and healthier have truly made all the difference in how I've managed to stay sane this year.

My 2017 in an nutshell - squeezing in time for the little things when the big things are crazy, messy + overwhelming

My 2017 in an nutshell - squeezing in time for the little things when the big things are crazy, messy + overwhelming

Because my work is heavily influenced by locations and landscapes, I started to think about balance in terms of place and how this idea of balancing the big with the little could tie into a specific geographic area. I kept going back to two places I had visited within the past year, on trips that served as much-needed breaks from the stresses of everyday life: Joshua Tree and West Texas. 

There's a surprising number of similarities in these places. Geographically, they're both high desert environments with similar climates, landscape and flora. Culturally, a few artists and musicians discovered Joshua Tree and Marfa decades ago and imbued each respective town with this funky, artistic, new-age spirituality meets wild west vibe. Demographically, there's this juxtaposing mix of small-town folks who've lived there their whole lives and young artists who move from big cities like L.A. and New York.

Both of these places give me the same strong feeling of resonance, like I belong and feel most myself there. I felt it when I visited West Texas for the first time in 2010 and every trip since. I feel it in Joshua Tree, like if a place could be a soul mate, but instead a soul place - meant to be. The high deserts of California and West Texas give me such a sense of freedom, clarity and possibility that I feel l could actually find balance in these places. 

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After connecting this concept of balance to a place, I began to work through the shapes and colors I wanted to explore in this collection.

The idea of balance feels very rounded and curved as opposed to linear with sharp edges, so I designed each piece with a focus on circles and half circles. Many of the recurring symbols and shapes found in the high desert are also curved - the boulder piles in Joshua Tree National Park, the meditative MQuan Studio stones resting in the lobby of El Cosmico in Marfa, profiles of cactuses strewn across California's high desert and the rounded dramatic peaks of the Chisos in Big Bend. 

Shape inspiration at El Cosmico in Marfa

Shape inspiration at El Cosmico in Marfa

The colors were taken from the incredible and incomparable sunrises and sunsets I've seen in both Joshua Tree and across West Texas - there's just something about the desert and its wide open sky that makes the beginning and end of each day something to look forward to. To add some contrast in color, texture and material, I added a dusty blue cotton chambray, natural raw silk, charcoal cotton and gray yarn-dyed linen. These four fabrics act as a backdrop to the warm desert colors, grounding them with a workwear-inspired palette that feels unexpected and casually luxurious to use for a quilt. 

With each piece in the Balance Collection, I want to push the expectations of what a quilt is and can be. To entertain the idea that a quilt can be a beautiful piece of art or an object thoughtfully designed and not only a utilitarian blanket rooted in a tradition of a centuries-old craft. And to hopefully be that little thing that makes your home happier and more balanced amongst all the big overwhelming things. 

Laura Preston1 Comment