So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer… Discipinary Literacy and Fluency in Design

Warren Feld
12 min readApr 20, 2020
“Canyon Sunrise”, FELD, 2008

DISCIPLINARY LITERACY AND FLUENCY IN DESIGN
An Introduction To This Series of Articles

Abstract: Jewelry Design is an occupation in search of a profession. Long thought merely a craft, or a subset of art, painting and sculpture, we have begun to recognize that Jewelry Design is something more. Jewelry making encapsulates the designer’s anticipation, not only of aesthetic requirements, but also those of function and context, as well. Creating jewelry means understanding how to make strategic design choices at the boundary between jewelry and person. Translating inspirations and aspirations into designs and finished products requires an intuitive, integrative sensitivity to shared understandings brought to the design situation by the artist and all the audiences ultimately invested in the product. The better designer is able to bring a high level of coherence and consistency to the process of managing all this — shared understandings, knowledge and skills, evaluative review, and reflection and adjustment. This is called ‘fluency’ in design. For the jewelry designer, there is a defined set of concepts and principles which revolve around this disciplinary literacy — the professional way of thinking through design, production, communication and critique — and how to be proficient at this. This is what this series of articles is all about.

DISCIPLINARY LITERACY AND FLUENCY IN DESIGN

Jeremy thought that the only thing he could do in life was design jewelry. He loved it. So it was not a question of “if” or “when” or “how”. But he told me it was always important not to get tricked by fashion. It was mandatory not to seek the trendy object. Not to turn away from that odd thing. And to pay very close attention to the details of how jewelry designers think, act, speak and reflect.

I thought about his advice a lot over the years of my own career as a jewelry designer. The disciplined designer needs to be attuned to the discipline way of seeing the world, understanding it, responding to it, and asserting that creative spark within it.

Yet jewelry design does not yet exist as an established discipline. It is claimed by art. It is claimed by craft…

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Warren Feld

Beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures, from custom work, production work, and teaching. *Design is about the ability to make smart choices.