Rose Megirian Makes Objects that Speak
Rose Megirian wants you to develop a meaningful relationship with the objects in your life. Whether it’s a dress, a vase or a pair of earrings, she designs things that speak to you – and hopes that you’ll reply.
Rose is the brains and talent behind Many Peaks Assembly, an independent design studio in Perth, Western Australia. Passionate about ethical making, she aims to tackle overconsumption by creating “emotional connections between objects and their owners”.
“I feel like a lot of what’s wrong with the world is due to the scale on which we’re producing and consuming things,” Rose explains.
Many Peaks Assembly is founded on the idea of buying less and buying better. To consider every single purchase before committing to it so that we can make more informed and longer lasting choices.”
Growing up in Darwin, Rose was always encouraged to make things, and she was lucky enough to be surrounded by tools of the trade.
“My parents are incredible makers,” she says. “At home we had a ceramic wheel, jewellery kiln, printing press, sewing machines, and plenty of art supplies. My dad had a great workshop set up under the house where he made furniture, tree houses, boats, and much of the house itself.”
From this early creative grounding, Rose went on to study fashion design. She loved the course, but found herself increasingly frustrated with the fashion industry.
“I felt it had distanced itself from the hand of the maker,” she says, “as well as slow production methods, quality materials and craftsmanship.” Deciding to tackle this directly, she went on to launch her line Many Peaks Assembly.
In choosing the name, Rose knew she wanted one that “wouldn’t pigeon hole the type of work I was doing, so I could basically design, make, facilitate, anything and everything I wanted to all under the one name.” She envisions her practice as a table on which “differently-shaped projects” are covered with a huge cloth, creating a single mountainous landscape with a cohesive aesthetic.
As a result, Many Peaks Assembly encompasses design, fashion, jewellery, and art-making, often collaborating with other artists and designers.
Rose’s latest series is a collection of sterling silver vessels. Each one is designed to hold an air plant – that is, a type of plant that doesn’t need to live in soil, but gets all the nutrients it needs from the air around it. The vessels are inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones. As well as featuring brilliantly-cut Australian sapphires and emeralds, they also include broken, chipped and synthetic stones; and the silver surfaces are deliberately tarnished. When the pieces were exhibited (in Radical Ecologies at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts), they were nestled in a bed of charcoal.
Rose explains that in this work, she wanted to “explore the way we assign value to objects and materials.” Why is a stone found with a chip or crack less valuable than a stone that’s been cut deliberately? Why are we more attracted to silver when it’s shiny? Why is coal dirty, and diamonds desirable, when they’re both just carbon? Really, when you dig down, it’s plain that humans aren’t so different from magpies, obsessed with gathering shiny objects for our nests.
The inspiration for these vessels was sparked during a trip to Cyprus; while visiting an archaeological dig, Rose found herself drawn to the pottery that was being unearthed. She was particularly struck by the fact that these cheap handmade objects, once used daily, had now become rare and valuable over the passing of time.
In Rose’s vessels, the idea of ‘worth’ is complicated by the fact that each silver container holds a living plant. “It introduces a care structure to the work,” she explains.
Anyone buying the piece must look after both plant and precious vessel, interacting with them regularly. She hopes this will result in a sense of familiarity and an emotional bond over time. Cherished and nurtured, the vessel and it’s contents will become important to its owner, far more than any throwaway mass-produced vase, and even more than the objective ‘value’ of its materials.
Many Peaks Assembly is always, in the end, about people: tactile objects designed to connect with human lives, bodies and emotions, to be kept close by and treasured.