Of Balance & Bar

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Sure, an important role of many designers is to keep their finger on the pulse of their respective industry. To research and trend-spot and forecast, noting which fabrics, colors and silhouettes are rising to the foreground – and alternatively – which might be fading quickly before next season’s threads hit the mass market. But what happens when a designer notices a larger trend? A trend that goes beyond patterns and prints – a trend that shapes the very way society lives and thinks and acts?

Easy. They take a cue from 26-year-old Ukranian designer Masha Reva, and they create a statement-making collection that questions the status quo on every level. I’ve profiled Masha before for her eye-opening collection on how we each hide behind the Internet, and this time, she’s tackling another heavy-hitting issue: our relationship with nature.

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The collection – a line of sweatshirts featuring juxtaposed images of botanical gardens and Photoshop layers – seeks to explore our immersion in the rapid pace of contemporary life while yearning for our natural environment. It’s a pace where, sadly, gadgets are replacing gardens and social networks are replacing Sunday night suppers. Tweets no longer represent early morning bird ballads, and instead, are pinging reminders of an ever-connected world in which we’re ever-so-disconnected.

masha reva botanical gardens sweatshirt

A lovely New York Times article explored this concept recently, the idea that we’re alone-but-not-but-are. Writes Jonathan Safran Foer: “We often use technology to save time, but increasingly, it either takes the saved time along with it, or makes the saved time less present, intimate and rich. I worry that the closer the world gets to our fingertips, the further it gets from our hearts. It’s not an either/or — being “anti-technology” is perhaps the only thing more foolish than being unquestioningly “pro-technology” — but a question of balance that our lives hang upon.”

masha reva botanical gardens sweatshirt

I’m still seeking that balance. My weekends and evenings are now work-free and Internet-free, with the exception of those emergency situations when I simply must find out where I can get an order of fried pickles within a ten mile radius. (I know.) But I’ve found something interesting – the less screens I’m surrounded with, the more I’m captivated by the natural. Warm summer breezes and babbling brooks and thunderous rainstorms. A fresh bunch of lilac. A baby’s laughter.

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My favorite design from Masha’s collection is above, featuring a loading status bar in the midst of a Photoshop transformation. Because it’s so true to life, isn’t it? We’re all on the spectrum of our own personal status bar – seeking a transformation from A to B. From fast to slow or good to great or depressed to joyful.

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Of course, it doesn’t really matter if we ever get to B with our status bar fully loaded as we’ve transformed into a new layer of ourselves. It simply matters that we’re on our way.

Image Credits: Masha Reva

 p.s. A nature-inspired kitchen and a transformation of self.

  • Technology can always be a tool and a tether…On one hand, all of our advances let me continue a career and connection to home, give us ideas for exploring, and build the foundation for new friends before we meet them. But it can also make us feel chained, or incomplete, or envious, or simply, exhausted. There’s a tipping point for everyone I think where the first category of good things morphs into the second of less so, and it’s a wonderful feeling when you discover where exactly the cut off should be. Congrats on finding yours!

    • Ah, thank you – and you’ve stated this conundrum so eloquently! I’m not at my balancing point yet, but I think I’m getting there. :)

  • Such a great concept. I was just watching the documentary “Happy” and it talks about this very thing. How the increase in technology and it’s use have great results for efficiency and industrial use but greatly decreases our levels of happiness due to the lack of “presentness”, face to face communication and a feeling of community. Though it’s definitely not a hopeless situation. The first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging its presents – now it’s up to us to find our balance.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Being an online person (um, I’m here, right?), this is something I struggle with daily. Technology has allowed me to connect with people I’d never otherwise “know”–and that really, truly has enriched my life–but it’s a constant, tense balancing act to be both out there and right where I am. Have been toying with the idea of disconnecting over the weekends, but when I am working (most of the year) that’s often my best time to read/catch up online. No easy answers.

    • Ah, there never are easy answers, you know? I’m learning that balance is at the root of EVERYTHING. Such a tricky thing!

  • You are right about if you stop being “wired” all the time,you start appreciating nature more.I often look at the sky at sunset and amazed by the changing colours and the intensity of forms,I say to myself:I better look with attention because I won’t see the same sunset again.
    Great blog by the way!!

  • Sometimes I feel like Pavlov’s dog with the intermittent reward of a “like” or a comment or a RT or share. Drool.

    So I give over my feeling good or bad to the inter webs. Response? Feel good. Crickets? Feel bad.

    Same with looking TOO much at other blogs or other sites. Up to this line it’s inspiring, cross that line and it’s discouraging.

    Where that line is depends on the day. But I know that I’m much more productive and inspired when I do less.

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