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Life and Work with Ada Rose Mancusi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ada Rose Mancusi.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ada Rose. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am originally from Washington State and came to Arizona to pursue a master’s degree in Architecture at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin West. While there, I fell in love with the desert (and met my husband) and we decided this was the place we wanted to live and start a business. My full-time job is with CBRE on a commercial real estate team doing graphic design and marketing. However, I’ve begun to branch out into making jewelry and helping my husband with our business, Mancusi Design, an architectural, construction, and graphic design practice.

Amid my everyday job as a graphic designer, jewelry making became my creative outlet. This wasn’t entirely new to me. I started making jewelry back in elementary school, selling my creations to my mom’s friends and family. I had always wanted to get back into it as an adult but never allowed myself the time. I was always “too busy” or our apartment was “too small”. Then, one day with the nudge from those closest to me, I finally quit making excuses, bought some basic jewelry making equipment and started where I left off. However now, I had a design degree and knowledge of new production methods. This was honestly one of the best decisions I made for myself. It breathed so much life into my every day. I re-found my sense of creativity and discovered I had so much new energy. When I got my first sale on Etsy from someone I didn’t know, I was so excited.

Has it been a smooth road?
Graduating with my master’s in architecture in 2010 during the recession was difficult. There were not a lot of jobs in the architecture profession and at the same time, I was questioning whether I really wanted to continue that path.

I had wanted to be an architect since I was 8 years old and as I neared the end of my formal education and started to realize the profession wasn’t what I had thought it was. It was difficult to allow myself to take a different path because I had held that goal of being an architect for so long. If there is one thing I learned, it is that goals can change. Life changes you and as you learn more about yourself, it is OK to move on and pursue goals more aligned with your current self.

If I could give any advice it would be to pursue what you love and what you have a talent for, not what you think you should do. If you love what you do, it makes all the difference. If I had continued along the architecture path just because my 8-year-old self said I should or because I felt I would let my family down, I know I’d be miserable right now. That is not worth it. Now, I go to work every day in a job I love, I get to design my own jewelry and people seem to like it! I am very fulfilled professionally, and I wouldn’t go back and change that for anything.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of. What sets you apart from others?
With my jewelry and designs, I like simple, modern, shapes. I like to be thoughtful and minimal with materials. I don’t just make a design I think will sell, I must love it first. I spend hours, sometimes days, sketching ideas before physically creating them.

Lately, I’ve been using natural wood with a pop of colorful acrylic or paint. I also like exploring modern means for creating my designs. For example, right now, I am using a laser cutter to cut my earrings. I love that I can design shapes on the computer allowing for precise lines and the aesthetic contrast of burnt edges on wood.

I am proud of myself for taking the leap and opening my Etsy shop. A lot of the design work I have been doing lately has been more graphic and less physical objects and I was really missing the satisfaction of taking a design from concept to completion with an actual physical item. Designing and making jewelry has been very rewarding and therapeutic for me. It is also rewarding to see other people wearing my creations and enjoying them as much as I do.

Who have you been inspired by?
Studying architecture, I learned about Ray and Charles Eames. I loved how they were the ultimate design power couple. Not only was Ray an artist but she made textiles, furniture, and was a graphic designer. She was the type of creative individual that I always wanted to be. I never wanted to stick to just one type of design, I wanted to do it all. Her bold use of color and shapes has also continually inspired me to this day. When my husband and I started Mancusi Design, I always envisioned us as a modern-day Ray and Charles Eames.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bryan Black Photography, Ada Rose Mancusi

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