Di x Mairi Millar

This year has been an incredible start for me, both in design as well as direction. I had the pleasure to lead Designer Island’s May interview, featuring Jewellery Designer, Mairi Millar.

“Art can be dangerous, even when decorous” (Bridget Quinn, 2017). There are two senses that strike the most when confronted with art: sight and touch. The former goes without saying, but ultimately we feel, though there is no physical convergence by art (and design)- and that is what makes it so very dangerous, as stated by Quinn.

We stand in awe at the confrontational force that lies within Mairi Millar’s work. It’s both rebellious and riveting. It’s the voice for all those who walk in vulnerability, but still, wear their strength on their sleeves, or in this case, their fingers, ears, and above their head. It is only fitting that this conversation is entitled, ‘Exhibitory,’ for the designs as well as the designer are far worth the exhibition.
— Zarna Hart of Designer Island

Platform: Designer Island

Interview + Creative Direction: Zarna Hart

Photographer: Jlh Perspectivs

Location: The Loftt Gallery

To read more on this thought-provoking interview, head to Di’s website by clicking here.

Caribbean Creatives x Safia.Elena

Talking about yourself is a challenge. Talking about yourself in the context of your work is even more challenging. In my case, my practice is so very aligned with who I am as a person, that the challenge lies in separating my personal self from my designer-self. But alas, I’ve found solace in relaying how both go hand in hand.

Ironically, graphic design was never in the cards for me. Though I had applied to a myriad of degree programs under the umbrella of Art & Design, Graphic Design was my plan Z. Luckily, I had been awarded a scholarship to study at Cardiff Metropolitan University- everything I could have wanted and more; a chance to explore European grounds. However, to my dismay, my plan Z was listed big and bold in my acceptance letter, but I could not lose sight of what I truly wanted. So, off to Cardiff I went, lacking knowledge and/or preparation of what was to come.

Life has a strange way of piecing together these, at the time, detrimental circumstances that eventually become divine intervention. This is my favourite form of magic: coincidence. I had quickly and wholeheartedly fallen in love with Design and all that it had encompassed. It has been challenging as well as surprising to me in so many ways. It was the fast-brewed love for design and a dear friend of mine that encouraged me to live in Berlin, Germany for a year- a place that I will always hold close to my heart. Being there chiseled my sensibility and understanding for design and how it came to be. From art history, to architecture, to contemporary art, to cultural integration: I was witnessing my life and love of art being influenced by design in real-time. I’ll never forget learning about Erik Spiekermann, Berlin-based design genius, who designed the metro-map and brand identity for the major public transportation system in Berlin- something I was using almost everyday. And it’s in those moments that you appreciate your life’s journey. Design has connected so many dots, has introduced me to amazing people, and has curated new paths for the way I view my career.

I’m so thrilled to be sharing this mini interview with you all. If the above snippet peaked your interest, head over to Safia.Elena x Caribbean Creatives to read more on my sources of inspiration, design process and more!


Caribbean Confabulations

Confabulations: one of my favourite words in the English language. This is mostly due to the perfect combination of strong yet soft syllables within the word, but also because of the meaning of the word itself; to talk informally; (or in the psychological world) to fill in the gaps of memory by means of fabrication.

The Artist Talk given by Che Lovelace at The Loftt Gallery made me think a lot about this word. For those who don't know where The Loftt Gallery is, it's above the well-known bar & bistro "Drink!". It's a haven amidst the roars of its urban environment, and in a way, the perfect host for the evening's event.

Upon entry, the lights were dimly thrust across the very attentive silhouettes, whom were seated across the wooden floors of the gallery. I had almost forgotten that I came to see an exhibition.

During the discussion, Che mentioned, "I tend to see and get excited about the things that are problematic and difficult." This, to me, is a succinct description of the relationship between the exhibition space and the work. The Loftt Gallery was fairly straightforward in that the structure of the place was functional. That being said, there was a great dichotomy of the building to its atmosphere. It was a muster of celebration, conversations, footsteps, car engines and fully dressed white walls. There was no denying the symphony that is time and place. More importantly, there was no denying Caribbean art- to which I often deem problematic and difficult, in the best possible way.


Based on my experiences, Caribbean people are naturally gifted storytellers. This may stem from our ancestral inheritance, or may simply be due to our geographical influence. We may never know which, but I believe that it is this trait that brews performance.

We are an emotional and reactive folk. Our lifestyle fuels our creative endurance and output. It's no wonder that so many music genres and sub-genres exist right here. That's what makes Caribbean art so complex. We're a fairly young yet growing society that is trying to understand why we are the way we are.

This recent collection by Lovelace channeled the openness of the figure and its in-absence to their Caribbean environment. Some (figures) are more direct and take charge of the canvas, whereas others are more of a distant memory that we, as the viewer, do not belong to. The pronounced sections of each piece paired with faded colours and incomplete shapes led me to believe that the figures and their background were so closely tied that they almost could not coexist. To which I ask, is "Caribbean lifestyle" highly evocative of the moments we have never lived but all know so well?


Just so that I don't end on too much of a dramatic note: this last quotation of the Artist Talk goes out to all those on the 'come-up' (I feel you sis):

One of the things we as artists (or whatever your profession) have to try to do is find a natural state of living - an instinct that will always guide you. Sometimes we analyse so much that it stops us from fulfilling our goals.