Ever wonder how Ten Thousand Villages decides which products to feature each season? With the talented makers and artisan partners showing us so many samples to choose from, it’s no easy task. We asked Diana Livia Drnovscek, Product and Quality Assurance Specialist, to walk us through some of her June summertime favourites – and dish on what it’s really like to pull a new collection together.
Q: If you were describing the June collection in one word, what would it be?
A: That’s a tricky question because our collections belong in two big categories: home décor and personal accessories. So I would use the word “tropical” for home décor, while the bigger statement necklaces and earrings in the personal accessories collection have me thinking “bold”, in a way that projects confidence and adventurousness. In both collections, we were trying to stay refined and contemporary.
Q: What inspired the mood and colours in the home décor collection?
A: The forest in a tropical country! The colours are really bright – it’s a fiesta of colours. This palette was a little bit challenging at the beginning. You had these oranges, lime greens, yellows and blues all together. It was a lot to take.
But we knew we have different groups that work with those bright colours, and sometimes we don’t take the risk and bring in the bolder pieces. This was our opportunity to work with them and have products that are fun and summery.
Q: What are the two or three pieces you can’t wait to buy for yourself?
The ice cream bowls from Crisil Srl in Bolivia are on my list for sure. I don’t know if I’m going to buy four or six, but I like them because they’re a nice size and they’re functional. In the summer, there are so many gatherings – and there will always be ice cream and gelato!
We love upcycled saris so much, and now we can have the fabric in our bedrooms. There are so many to choose from – no two are the same – and I’m excited to look for the perfect one. I haven’t seen the full shipment myself yet, but I’ve already heard there are some really beautiful and amazing ones. It’s going to be difficult to choose only one!
The necklace is a statement piece. I went out with my girlfriends and wore it for four or five hours. I’m tiny, so I usually don’t wear big pieces. But even though there are a lot of things going on with this necklace, it’s not heavy or uncomfortable when you’re wearing it. Plus, my girlfriends were impressed. They said, “Oh my gosh, I love it!” So I would definitely buy it.
Q: Do you ever get to see pieces being made when you visit the artisan partners?
A: Yes. I was in Lima at Intercrafts Peru and I saw that the artisan was working on the Abstract Stones Necklace while we were there. It was emotional.
If you look at the necklace, you see how the different shapes are connected. It’s a tiny piece. You’re thinking, “Oh, okay. It’s just three stones put together.” But it’s not that easy. The jewellers are really amazing. Jose, who I was watching, had a master sample in front of him, but he was not using any template. It’s all done by eye – putting the stones together and welding them.
He was so fast. It would have taken me hours to put the three of them together!
Q: Were you involved in the design process of any of the pieces?
A: For the Blooming Garden Cushion, I wanted to have a bright textile piece for those relaxing summer days, with an accent using big flowers and leaves. I didn’t want to go wild, but we wanted something big enough to feel really fun and bold for your patio.
Then I had the opportunity to go to Southern California and was inspired by the movement and the ocean waves. The palette of colours that St. Mary’s had shown me in the samples they sent pulled together all the elements.
It helps that every product from St. Mary’s has the perfect balance and composition. It’s just amazing. We give them a draft and they improve it by 100 per cent. I’m not asking them to replicate what I propose, but to apply their own vision and skills to improve it. If I ask them to use one Pantone colour, they will often recommend a better one.