Saturday, June 17, 2017

calm, cool, collected

One of the season's highlights in class with design historian and tastemaker Daniella Ohad was our visit to the SOHO Studio of Miami born, New York based, artist and author Michele Oka Doner.

If you have traveled through the American Airlines terminal in Miami, you will be familiar with her large scale mosaic work A Walk on the Beach, or you may know Radiant Site in New York's own Herald Square or Celestial Objects at the Museum of Natural History.  

Perhaps you know of her recently published Intuitive Alphabet, or of her collaboration with Steuben Glass, or her furniture, sculpture or jewelry designs.  Her body of work is seamless and all encompassing.

A former educator and firm believer in embracing one's inherited knowledge and place in the universe, Michele spent time with us generously sharing the story of her life's journey to date. She invited us to explore her studio and library, explaining that from the beginning, she has made it her mission to craft her life, ceremoniously, making the things that she needed with the materials around her.  As it happened, she found that others wanted what she made, for enjoyment or for use in their own lives.... 

Raised at the beach, Michele possesses an innate reverence for the natural world and its primal wonders.  As a young student of design and art history in Michigan, she was influenced by Saarinen, Bauhaus and Cranbrook and acknowledged the "tools from masterful people," that helped her to discover a vocabulary and language with which she was comfortable and which defined her own way of life. 

In the light filled studio where she has resided since the early 1980's, work and life are integrated in a plan that she pointed out is not a grid but a series of circles and zones, "an open footprint" as she called it, like a piazza, in which space is differentiated by use, a space in which you are free to flow.

"Proceed as way opens," Michele quoted a Quaker saying at one point in the intimate narrative of her travels to other cultures and respect for her New York life, encouraging all of us to focus on and to foster a spirit of gratitude toward our surroundings and the possibilities revealed to us along our own paths.

Daniella's blog captures the essence of this magical studio visit and places it in the fuller context of New York and global design. I happily refer you to the link as it also exemplifies the passion, curiosity and sense of discovery she tirelessly shares throughout her program:

Here's to a summer of infinite wonder! 

SOHO studio of Michele Oka Doner

(photos deborah bush) 

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