Marla Wallerstein & Tania Rodamilans Q&A - Designer to Designer


As we continue to feature Tania Rodamilans this October, we asked for a little help from fellow jewelry designer Marla Wallerstein from Marla Studio. Check out what these two ladies rapped about.

What piece of music, song, band or singer is the soundtrack of your work?

My taste in music is eclectic and in my iTunes you’ll find Pavarotti signing Norma right next to Pink and Lord Huron. I use songs like I use scented candles. I have my favorites, but I like to mix it up depending on the season and the mood. I am more of a British Pop and alternative Rock fan, but I’ll crank up latin beats when I am cleaning the house, and Dylan and Lloyd Cold are great for road trips. 

What is your go-to outfit when you want to feel kickass, badass, awesome, I got this, as possible?

Dark skinny jeans, a lush silk top, a blazer, my go to pumps, and a statement piece of jewelry that turns heads. My style is eclectic and playful, with a bohemian flair. I  like to mix styles to create unexpected looks while maintaining the structure with key pieces that flatter me and make me feel comfortable. I am not afraid of color and patterns, but I do have a weak spot for black blazers. From the waist up, the more fabric and accessories the merrier.

If you could go to NY or Paris fashion week, what show would you want to sit in the front row at, and who would you want sitting next to you?
Let’s assume I can time travel back to fashion week. I would love to sit next to Alexander McQueen. I’ve always admired his artistic vision. His imaginative approach to clothing design as a way to explore culture and society is very unique. If you don’t own Savage Beauty order it today! 

I don’t care much for the front row. It’s rarely the best sit in the house if you are trying to gain perspective. I rather be where the action in, behind the scenes, where the creative process is taking place.  I would love to spend some quality time with Rei Kawakubo. 

What is the most fabulous thing you did this past summer?

Honestly…. I can’t remember… It’s been soooooo long! I’ll have to look at my calendar, or my Instagram feed ;-) 

Where did you grow up and how did that place most significantly form you as an adult and designer?

I am originally from Barcelona. I am sure my Spanish upbringing influences my designs, but I am not consciously drawing from it. What we create comes from what’s within us, and that’s informed as much from who we are and what we believe in as it is from our immediate context. For most of my life my context was my native Barcelona, but I have been in Chicago for over 10 years and I believe this city is equally responsible for what comes out of my studio.

What inspired you to start making jewelry?
It actually began with painting. I just dove in and started learning through experimentation, intuition and persistence. It was a very organic process, but also extremely challenging. I explored all kinds of different media, styles and formats, and before I knew it I had artwork everywhere. I started sharing my artwork at galleries, and moved on to working with boutiques when I started to design my own jewelry. The early jewelry lines were drawn right from the artwork itself. Resin pieces created as miniatures of my original paintings and tiny collages with found objects. The first piece I sold was  resin pendant.  

I started designing jewelry when I realized I was modifying and altering most of the pieces I owned to make them my own. I decided it was time to transition from one art form to another, so I parked the brushes for a while and started to design art I could wear. 

Unlike a painting or a photograph, jewelry moves with your body.  I try to incorporate movement in my pieces because I am fascinated by the non-static nature of jewelry. That’s why I love to design longer pieces, the more chain you add the more it is going to move. 

What did you study? Did you have a different career before you started your brand?

I’ve always been a maker and a DIY lover, but I didn’t go to school for jewelry making. My background is in journalism, research and consulting. I believe creativity is not confined to any particular discipline, is possible in every discipline. Learning to be creative in one area of your life quickly translates into being creative in all other areas of your life. Everyone can benefit from acquiring the ability to learn new things, the ability to not be frightened to explore different experiences and let art into their world. 

I have lived most of my professional life balancing what most people would describe as two competing identities - visual artist and business research consultant. I have never seen them as competing, but rather as complementary.

It’s kind of curious how we tend to fall into the habit of thinking about business so differently than we do creativity. I’ve found that I tend to come at the business with the same heart and intuition as I do design or painting. Both take just as much courage and passion as they do knowledge and skill.