The next edition of GRAY’s HOT NEW NEXT competition takes place Tuesday, July 30, at Seattle Design Center. This Shark Tank-style live event offers contestants the chance to present a rapid-fire pitch of a new design-related concept or product to an expert panel of industry veterans, who will select a winner in a final round in September during the Interior Design Show (IDS) Vancouver.
Leading up to the big night, we’re checking in with each of our judges to learn more about their work, background, and what makes them tick. This week, we caught up with Irene Wood, a Seattle-based artist who launched her jewelry brand History + Industry in 2011. Her handmade pieces can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Barnes Foundation, the National Gallery, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Seattle Art Museum.
RSVP to HOT NEW NEXT Seattle here.
What’s your most prized design possession?
I own two very well-loved quilts by Haptic Lab. The quilts combine textile tradition with charting current land formations and city maps while maintaining a commitment to environmental health and awareness. They encapsulate all the things I appreciate in good design: usability, craft, aesthetic, thoughtful production practices, and environmental consciousness.
What’s the best part of your job?
Geeking out on the color, form, and texture puzzles that I build and solve on my own.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on in the past year?
Adding Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s Taliesin West to my body of stockists was a very happy achievement for me in the last year. Honoring history was an integral element in the origin of my work. I’m totally tickled that my jewelry gets to live and interact within the architectural space of a historical figure in design and his continued legacy.
What are you looking forward to most about being an HNN judge?
People and our expansive capacity for problem-solving, conscious development, and progress! What’s in your brain? How can we make waves to enrich and better daily life, culture, the earth?
What is the best—and worst—advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice was from my painting mentor in college: Make a regular daily studio schedule even if there isn’t a specific project in mind. It makes space for momentum in the creative process. Giving myself that time allowed me to go through the necessary cycles of breakthroughs and blockages.
The worst advice: Say yes to every opportunity. There is some truth in taking risks and saying yes to opportunities whose value may be unclear in the beginning, but it’s also very valuable to be discerning. I make decisions based on knowing my market and keeping my design ethics and practice standards high.
Five Questions For is GRAY’s candid Q&A session with design industry luminaries that delves into all things personal, professional, and occasionally humorous.