Jewelery designer Melissa Joy Manning created a shimmery new line of lighting for west elm this season. We stopped by Melissa’s studio to learn more about her work. Read on for our conversation and to see where Melissa’s modern chandelier designs came from!
What inspires you in your work?
I’m most inspired by our environment. My jewelry is informed from my interaction with nature. I am continually expressing the impressive combination of raw, natural color and texture through my work.
What’s your studio process like?
I travel for inspiration and take photographs of my experiences. I use these photos to inform each collection. For example, after a recent trip to a friend’s wedding in Death Valley, I created an entire collection of agates and opals in attempt to mimic the jagged landscape of the mountain ranges and amazing salt formations found on the valley floor. I often do this- visit a place and then spend hours pulling stones and designing pieces to capture what I have seen. Designs for me come from a place I can’t control- they are a reaction to my experiences and become homage to nature.
What was it like designing your new lighting collection for west elm?
I love making handmade chain. I first learned from an old man who taught me about the craft of lovingly creating each link on small wooden dowels. I was a very impatient student! Sitting at a bench and taking the time to make something so permanent slowed me down and taught me to appreciate process. Our collaboration led me back to my roots and allowed me explore further iterations of chain making and how to take this traditional craft beyond jewelry. For me, crafting a collection of lighting was a natural progression of my work. I love any kind of design and have done a few interiors.
What’s your approach to decorating?
My favorite spaces always have some kind of shine, mirrors, a fabulous rug, and a key statement piece that informs your room like a fabulous vintage inspired armoire or a perfect chair. Also, lots of art, always!
Images: west elm