I frequently refer to myself as a “hybrid”. As an American mashup of multiple European nationalities, my ancestry is commonplace, centuries old and frankly boring compared to the ethnic combinations of others I know.
Yet in almost 14 years being an expat/immigrant, hybrid does best explain my life. Not me personally, for how I’ve chosen to pick and choose from my two home cultures plus whatever resonates from the rest of the world.
As a career clothing and interior designer, with a penchant of world and personal politics, mixing things up comes naturally. I gravitate toward cultural fusion in fashion, in home décor, in writing, in living. Here in Istanbul, a treasure trove of my favorite things textile, hybrid takes on new meaning.
A bit of striped vintage kilim scrap, a cast-off embroidered Indian bodice, knitted pieces from wool yarns found in hans located down narrow alleys near the Grand Bazaar. Cheap burlap from the Eminonu stalls, shiny mid-century baubles from an estate sale in Samatya. Trash to some, essential elements to me.
Add that I hate to repeat an exact thing more than once, fallout from my years of designing for mass-production. Multiple colors, textures and patterns are a must. If you look closely the back and front of this design, they DO have the same knit stitch. But of course, why do the same colors or even the same scale?
It’s not that I can’t decide or simplify the details. I prefer a celebration of styles, to reuse and cherish handmade bits that other hands have made, creating something new in the process. Call it ethnic, boho or hippie if you will. Those words no longer have meaning to me, as we forge our own life paths into the 21st century, and create new aesthetics that reflect our personal style. And designing something to be made by hand will always be the compass point of my journey.
This satchel comes as close to a visual expression of my personality as anything I’ve created for quite some time. This bag, hand-stitched together over several evenings, is nowhere near as complex as the lives Abit and I are weaving together. That’s the work of two dreamers creating a future. We have yet a lot of work to do.
Meanwhile, I have a useable big satchel for work and laptop that I’ll carry as soon as the weather cools in the fall. More such hybrid ideas to come….