Self Portrait

Self Portrait
Holly Pepper

Tread Lightly

Currently I am undertaking an internship in Utrecht, Netherlands with the renowned design team consisting of Tejo Remy + Rene Veenhuizen. Through this blog I plan to document my design experience in Holland.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seeking Samoan Inspiration

I don’t need to read glossy design magazines for my inspiration. Instead I would prefer to go more primitive and get amongst traditional cultures for inspiration to my design work. For the past three days I have been cycling Savaii, an island in Samoa. Savaii is 300km round trip covered in lush tropical landscape

, with pristine oceans surrounding it’s shores. I am back immersing myself in Samoa for a short holiday, ten months on from undertaking a long term volunteer placement here.


On this relatively small and isolated island you still see a lot of traditional Samoan culture practiced today. People source there food by practicing self substance farming, running small scale farms to provided the family home with fresh food. A lot of S

amoans live in fales, open grass hu

ts made from various hardwoods and coconut palms. Traditionally you eat from woven coconut leaf plates. Fruit and Vegetables are transported and are sold in hand woven coconut baskets.

These guys are living, breathing examples of Eco design and sustainable living. The Despite being colonised by Germany over one hundred years ago the Samoan lifestyle has not progressed or should I say regressed to full blown western consumerist culture, traditional life lives on. Samoans humbly plod away at their sustainable lifestyles without the hype at which we acclaim for adopting sustainable practices in our western lives.


So basically living in Samoa as a volunteer over the past year has had an enormous impact on how I practice as a designer. I spent a few months questioning the need for more designs and products in our world after returning home, when in Samoa things haven’t really progressed, the genius designs have been born from tradition and the primitiveness of the culture. But when you are born with a making gene it is just inherent and you can’t stop making things, it is the process and materials that I employ that I am attempting to alter to positive sustainable design solution.


It is through this design project that I want to try to express the impact this year has had on me, exploring Eco Design solutions, which re-use or recycle. So far it has been weaving plastic straps from the jungle of masonry that surrounds me in my home context.

1 comment:

  1. Hi and Talofa Holly! There are times in my life that I happen to come across experiences that just take my mind and my breath away--this is one of those times. It is a pleasure to know that our Samoan culture and way of life intrigues you as a designer and artist. I've always wanted to visit Savai'i, Samoa (where my dad was born). Thank you for sharing your experience there and artistically tying it in with your passion as a designer. As a designer myself (of creativity w/ my two kids--lol), I think it's always a blessing to immerse ourselves in a way of life that is both purposefully primitive and self-sustaining because as much as many of us would like to admit at times, there's a lot to be learned about humble beginnings--even advanced and adventurously-driven humanity's. We all had to have started somewhere in the collective process of things.

    I'm glad I ran into your blog link after I googled, "Samoan Inspiration." If you don't mind me sharing, I was raised on a tiny island in American Samoa and although my time there was only a short while, I will always remember the foundational wisdom that impacted my life from a very young age. Through simple and careful teachings about living in and with nature, I learned the art of moving with time and technological advances, but never forgetting about the power of simplistic harmony with all things. It's about creating a healthy balance in life and teaching others, especially our future generations, to do the same. So as I sit here in my South Oklahoman home, contemplating my place and my next move in this vast and abundantly progressed world, my heart longs to be inspired yet again by something radically different yet purposefully primitive and secret--a place in my mind that values harmony and small things that just make big sense--a place exactly like Samoa. Thanks for inspiring me today with your portrayal of a way of life I'll always remember, and hopefully never forget. Ia manuia, Holly! Be blessed.


    --Theresa Ioane Daniels


Midland Atelier

Midland Atelier
The Water Tower Studio.

The Water Tower View

The Floor Mat

The Floor Mat
This is an organic looking floor mat I am creating. It was inspired by mold crawling up the wall