Ayse Birsel of —the very first speaker at this year's Giants of Design conference in Palm Springs, CA—has designed products we use everyday, such as kitchen utensils for JCPenney and Target, and packaging for Johnson & Johnson. She’s an author and a creative. To get to know what drives Ayse, we tracked down the physical things she likes most—and why.
“I love books—physical books with pages that I can write on. I read an article recently about how writing by hand is cognitively different than writing on a computer. There is a connection between the hands and the brain. I’d be interested in any neuroscience research about the differences between reading a physical book and reading a book on your Kindle. In any case, having a physical trail of what I’ve read and what resonated is important to me. Everything seems to have converged into one tool, and I find it’s so difficult to show my kids, by example, the different activities that you could do around learning.”
2. A cuppa
“I start every day with a cup of tea. My Herend porcelain teacup was a gift from a dear friend. They are beautiful teacups with birds and flowers and jewelry. I’m usually not that attached to physical things, but I’ve broken a few and that makes them more precious. “When I was young, a family friend came to tea and asked me, ‘What do you want to do?’ I told him that I wanted to be an architect. He said, ‘What about industrial design? Do you know what that is?’ And he started talking about his teacup, and how curve of the rim made it easy to drink from, and how you need the handle because the bowl of the cup is hot. I’m just thankful for that afternoon tea. It made me fall in love with the human scale of design.”
“I’m addicted to Pleats Please. I call them my pajamas. They are so comfortable, but they don’t look like pajamas. I love the design of them, but also the practicality. You can travel with them—they are light and need no ironing. It’s as if Issey Miyake took wrinkles, a constraint, something that you can’t avoid, and turned them into an opportunity.”