Laura T. Jaramillo draws on her multicultural background (her mother is Puerto Rican, her father is Colombian, and she grew up in Egypt) to create furnishings and objects that straddle sculpture, performance, and personal history.
"My goal is to capture memories with an object that already exists and then to make new objects that intensify that emotion."
After graduating with a dual degree from Brown University and RISD earlier this year, she co-created Listen, an app and card game that encourages people to communicate better and more frequently while isolated during the pandemic. "I love finding a message that needs to be said and the body that needs it," she says.
Learn how Jaramillo utilized the "flower theory" as a child, plus read more of her responses to our Q&A below.
Hometowns: San Juan, Puerto Rico and Cairo, Egypt
Describe what you make in 140 characters. I design objects and tools that speak to the human experiences of memory, belonging, identity, and love.
What's the last thing you designed? A wooden mobile suspending 3 glass orbs. The orbs represent the fraught fragility of family; holding itself in balance through love, but always a moment away from erupting into chaos.I’m currently working on a game, Listen, that provides a structure for people to open up and communicate. It frames starting difficult conversations in an approachable way, and strengthens relationships by reinforcing healthy habits.
Do you have a daily creative ritual? I walk when I need to think. I run to clear my head. I sing or write music to inspire myself.
How do you procrastinate? I'm the kind of person who procrastinates by doing more work. I often put off finishing one project by starting another.
What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? The chair. Nearly all furniture, chairs included, were designed to a standard that comfortably accommodates a 6ft man. We need to rethink furniture design to take into account a more diverse range of bodies, because a person’s level of comfort in a space is a direct subconscious signifier of whether they belong.
Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? In life: my mother, Raquel Gonzalez. If you're reading this: thank you for everything. In design: my professors at RISD who taught me to create beyond myself by looking within.
What skill would you most like to learn? I wish I could learn languages as easily as I did when I was a child, coding included.
What is your most treasured possession? A charm bracelet my grandmother made for me; she gifted it to me the day I moved away from home. She added a charm at every milestone, and I've watched the bracelet grow throughout my childhood.
What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? When I was little I used to dress myself using "the flower theory": Any color of choice on the top but bottoms and shoes must always be green. Period.
What contemporary design trend do you despise? Trend forecasting.
Finish this statement: All design should...be accessible.
What’s in your dream house? Give me huge windows, indoor plants, and an enormous marble bathtub with a view.
Did you pick up any new hobbies or learn a new skill while in quarantine? What was it? I started sewing toys for my partner's nieces and nephews based on a character from my childhood imagination. The first one was a mess but now I'm getting commissions.
How do you think the pandemic will affect residential design in the future? What about workplace or commercial design? I hope we find a way to redesign our spaces without isolating and alienating ourselves. Single-person acrylic pods in every room can’t be the answer.
How can the design world be more inclusive? Here's a list: - Increased access to art and design in early education - Paid internships; non-exploitative labour practices; dissolving the oppressive line between art and craft; and, lastly, expanding our definition of good and smart design to be more inclusive of other modes of thinking and cultural expression.
What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? The impact and potential design has in every field. Design isn't just for designers.
You can learn more about Jaramillo on Instagram.
The Dwell 24 2020
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