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Travel is a State of Mind: Tony Malmed

Travel is a State of Mind: Tony Malmed

In order to indulge our restless spirit of exploration, we've decided to share a journal series called, Travel is a State of Mind. Inspired by a dear friend of ours who confided in us that she and her husband were planning international meals to transport them beyond the confines of their L.A home, we've decided to ask our designers to take us with them on their escapist day-dreams. 

In these entries, we'll attempt to spotlight the faraway places and people that contribute so deeply to Spirit of the Earth's texture and the destination muses that inspire our makers and the treasures that they create.

Next up to host us in our travels is Tony Malmed. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Tony Malmed's work features rich hand-hammered metals paired with otherworldly stones, celestial motifs that remind us great harmony can be found in asymmetry.   

If you could click your heels and go anywhere right now where would you go and why?

Italy, as it always nourishes my soul and inspires my creativity more than any other place

What's your most cherished travel memory?

Since I was essentially a traveler for over 12 years and since settling down have continued as much as I could, there are a few, and I equally cherish all of them:

  • Meeting my wife and constant companion of the next 50 years in Afghanistan in 1970, and from being with her, being present became both my natural flow and necessity
  • Being taken in and nourished and transformed by the saints and enlightened ones in India
  • Discovering and falling in love and finding home in Santa Fe, where I finally settled in and was able to be both nourished and inspired by the creativity here and where I finally sat still long enough to learn and develop learn my craft.

  • In Florence, when the ocean of the essence of the Renaissance descended into this drop and I was captivated forever, about 25 years ago. When an ocean descends into a drop, it all, naturally, can’t physically fit, and the overflow became my jewelry and my home.
  • Spending half of every day I’ve ever been in cities and towns in Europe deeply emerged in art, where I look and look and finally see and imbibe and disappear into the work of the masters… how I become their reaching, their unfolding, their developing and expanding and shedding… and perhaps most of all, their ruthlessness with their creations and themselves… and then the lanes and skies and air and rivers and buildings that reflect that longing for beauty and what is right and how one must live.

Are there any travel influences or destination(s) that have been reoccurring muses in your design process? Are there any pieces you can point to that were inspired by any travels or references to faraway lands? 

I think the two main ones were:

Truly receiving the transmission of the Renaissance in Florence. I remember having borderline Stendhal syndrome (I was still able to stand) and saying to Gayatri, ‘I can’t believe what they were able to do with circles and squares.’ There was something about the essentialness and proportion that transformed my design sense forever.

The other one was spending about 6 weeks wandering around the Buddhist temples in Japan drinking in the aesthetic of their architecture, their materials, their proportions, their gardens and their placement of things and how the simplicity and utter awesomeness of it all stopped and quieted my mind and being and restlessness enough so that I really just stopped… and looked… and was able to See. And, of their final teaching to me (if there is such a thing as a final teaching), that: It is not necessary to have symmetry to have balance.

I feel that perhaps the most important design element of my work is what is left out, what is excluded, so that only the essential remains… an essential that simultaneously holds both silence and suchness, and where both beauty and abundance are informed by the use of space as perhaps the most important ‘material’ of all.

This sounds so pretentious to me as I write it, but these truly are what I feel holds and compels me as I design.

For a lot of us, it can be scary to travel with fine jewelry, what's your favorite Tony Malmed travel look?

I don’t know why, but I tend to not wear jewelry… but when helping Gayatri select which pieces to travel with, I tend to suggest things like the constellation cuffs in silver, the large Little Zen necklace in Gold, the Petals or Devi Gold Earrings, so that she is still adorned with beauty, but in a way that feels comfortable, safe, and understated… there’s just something supportive about wearing things we know and love when we’re traveling, It’s a time of adventure and exploration and living in the moment, and yet we’re also a little vulnerable and out of our element… so simple things like our jewelry and our favorite clothes help us feel held, confident,
nourished, and at home within ourselves.

What's your favorite recipe from your travels?

At this moment it’s probably a glass of good red wine and some aged pecorino cheese, preferable from Pienza…in the same feeling of contentment and the eternal moment and that nothing more is needed or even possible…

What scent or fragrance is most transportive?

Jasmine from Tunisia, frangipani (plumeria) and sandalwood from India, amber, and frankincense from Turkey and the middle east.

What song takes you vacation?

Funnily, in this moment, its “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson

Favorite travel read?

I don’t really read about travel… I keep meaning to… Before I go somewhere, I don’t want to have read about how and where someone walked and what they saw and learned… I want to walk that path myself… then I might read about it, as at that point it’s more like listening to another musician, and I appreciate the notes they hit and hurt when they hurt, and exalt when they exalt… and I think, “I didn't taste it that way’ or ‘Ah… so they were moved in this way… and I was moved in the same… or another way’… that they said this about something and I would say that about it...

How do you create moments of exploration and discovery at home?

One of the great blessings from our years in India is that I am at homeness in each moment, as it is, whatever is appearing in awareness and consciousness in this both eternal and ever-changing moment… so in these difficult times when exploration and discovery happen mostly within the walls of our house, our home reveals and deepens itself to me, and simple things like managing and preparing food, the simple joys of cleaning, of not being in a hurry, my bathing and dressing ‘rituals’, and being with family and friends become more touching than ever… even when much of that is through virtual mediums these days.

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