Nature always plays a role in fashion—designers draw inspiration from flowers, plants, trees and world travel, and those things and more show up in overt and abstract ways in prints and patterns. But every once in awhile things get even more specific. Remember how, for a time, there was a bird on everything? Yeah.
Daniela Villegas and an image from her Instagram account, courtesy Daniela Villegas
Insects certainly aren’t everywhere but they are omnipresent in the elaborately beautiful work of SPACE designer Daniela Villegas. “I love to use real elements from nature as good omens for the pieces, and as lucky charms. These elements are gifts from Mother Earth; using these treasures in my work is a way to celebrate and acknowledge how majestic nature is,” the Mexican-born jeweler told us.
She also told us how 1989’s Honey, I Shrunk the Kids informs her thinking, why she likes ants, and what she’s looking forward to about her Tuesday, February 2 date to meet with shoppers at SPACE in Nordstrom Seattle.
The Thread: Your relationship with jewelry began at an early age—playing with your grandmother’s jewelry in Mexico. What did you connect with back then?
Villegas: When you are a kid you play with whatever makes you happy, the monetary value is not important. I loved to play with pieces that were important for my family; I discovered the tastes and stories of my family through them, stories of engagements, stories about a specific birthday or trip.
The beauty of the jewelry is that it allows you to dream; the emotions inside each piece—you create memories than can be passed from generation to generation.
The insect world and nature figure so prominently in your work. When and how did they come into play for you?
I want to create pieces that I would like to wear and nature for me is everything. It’s what I believe in, where I find protection, where I learn and find my answers. Using treasures from Mother Nature is a way to celebrate and acknowledge how majestic she is.
Image from Daniela Villegas’s Instagram account, courtesy Daniela Villegas
Is it funny that insects find their way into fashion and jewelry and home decor? On one hand so many people are terrified of them, but on the other hand they are more and more present in our everyday lives.
I’ve always being fascinated by stories of insects and the roles they play in our lives. l would like to live the Lilliput experience like in Gulliver’s Travels. The difference of scales is something that intrigues me. I also remember the scene of one of my favorite Disney movies Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, where the kids interact with a baby ant, which at the beginning looks dangerous and in the end saves their lives.
Insects awaken in me a sense of adventure, I love that they know how to work as a team. Each one has a specific role and together as a whole, they are stronger. I would like to see this philosophy more often in our culture—that we complement each other, and use our differences as an asset and a way to unite rather than as a way of division.
Daniela Villegas’s Maat sapphire ring, at SPACE
I read that on one of your research and inspiration trips, you camped out in a cabin in Washington state—home of Nordstrom. What do you do when you’re away on a retreat working on a collection? What are those trips like for you?
When I’m creating a collection, I’m always looking for the soul of each piece, the story behind it, to evoke a memory. I try to be very open to the signs and I let my sixth sense and instinct guide me. I like to follow the signs of inspiration in my books, my trips, and conversations with friends and my loved ones as well as with strangers. My walks in nature and my times in solitude are important.
The forest makes me feel at peace; the green around me is very soothing. I adore Washington—the national parks, the people, the food. It all brings a lot of good memories to my heart.
My designs are inspired by nature, sometimes in a very literal way, sometimes more as a fairytale. I try to be in contact with animals in general; my dog Tito comes with me on almost all of my trips and hikes. I like to explore, to travel, to read… to know more about what is around me. I go to bug fairs, museums and lectures about animals. The more you discover, the more you want to know, and the more my curiosity awakes, the more I want to create. It’s a nonstop learning process.
You’ll be at Nordstrom Downtown Seattle on February 2 from 12PM-3PM; what do you think you’ll learn from shoppers and what will they learn from you?
I love to meet new people. I feel the cycle of my pieces is complete when they find new homes, so it’s very important to meet the customers and understand what they want. Their ideas and comments are very enriching. Every moment, every conversation can trigger a new idea or thought of what could be the next project. It is important to keep your eyes and ears always alert.