Can you tell us a bit more about yourself? Who are you, where are you from and how did your urge to design develop?
My name is Pollyanna. I was born in India, and I am the second child in a family of 7. Growing up in a large, multi-cultural family has had a big impact on me. We were homeschooled and spent most of our time outside school settings, being active, taking part in our parents' social work, and learning from different communities. As a designer, my work is informed by many cultures and people. I create in dialog with others, for example, the birds and the birdwatchers, the sheep and the shepherds, the invisible city and the non-vision citizens. Seeing the world in their terrain opens so many stories to investigate. These perspectives are cultural and material, relational, and sometimes uncomfortable. From “within” these places I find myself, and what it means to be alive, to belong somewhere, and to be responsible.
You shared your project Landschaap on Instagram with us, using the hashtag #HEYDDW. Can you tell us what the project is about and what it aims for?
I graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2020 with Landschaap. Landschaap tells the story of five Dutch shepherds and the breeds they use to maintain the Dutch landscape. Each blanket is felted and made from wool in order to quite literally embroider the words of the people and local names of the animals who shape them. These carpets, blankets, and wall pieces aim to narrate the work of those involved in regenerative practice through material and craft.
What did the project teach you?
The project taught me about being part of the landscape, not just looking at it. It is teaching me active engagement, that is to say, designing with living beings that are the origins of textiles. It taught me that we need to reconsider our models for cohabitation. I also learnt the importance of biodiversity, especially within breeding practices.
What drives you to investigate the personal within complex systems, as you state on your website?
As a curious and sensitive person, I find learning about how we shape and are shaped by our environment very important. The personal stories provide a subjective angle, where we can start to relate and connect to things outside ourselves. I like to take that position, to land in-between the cracks and work with the matter that exists there. It’s about telling the story of relationships, the stories of “us”.
How does this show throughout all your projects, do you consider it to be the common denominator?
Yes, I think it is a reoccurring red line. It shows in the point of view that I take, and in the way the project is framed. In Landschaap I tell the story from a relational and personal perspective between sheep and shepherds. In other work, for example with the film installation Birds I View, the bird and the birdwatchers' viewpoints are played on the other.
If you were able to choose anyone in the world to work with (a designer, politician, artist, scientist, or someone else), who would that be and why?
I recently had the honour to participate and work alongside a really fantastic group of fellows at this year's fellowship program Symbiotic Habitat at the Design Akademie Saaleck in Naumburg. The artistic director Maurizio Montalti and head mentor Eugenia Morpurgo both are doing very exciting work in the field of designing for more than human futures. It was a wonderful experience and I would love to continue working with them!
How has the pandemic affected your work so far? How do you look back on the past year?
Graduating during the pandemic has made me focus on slow design practice. This for me means giving things time to manifest. Time and space to learn new skills like gardening and plant dyes.
If you could ask yourself a question for this interview, what would it be? And how would you answer?
That would be: What is your favourite meal?
My favourite meal right now is orange pumpkin soup, slow-cooked in an iron pan with a portion of dal (lentils) mixed in, sunflower seeds to sprinkle on top and some fresh sourdough bread on the side drizzled with olive oil.
Do you have any news you would like to share with the DDW community?
I am happy to share interests and thoughts. If you have more questions or are interested in my work feel free to drop a line at firstname.lastname@example.org