Designer Urte Tylaite created Still House Jewelry in 2013, two years after opening Still House’s storefront in the East Village. Inspired by minimal forms and embracing the unusual, she’s always believed in honoring individual style. Through jewelry, a personal and intimate ritual, Urte is able to encourage just that. She is a trained metalsmith and is GIA certified, which has allowed the artist to offer a new series of designs through SH Wedding, Still House’s in-house wedding jewelry collection that launched last year.
With the store being temporarily closed, Urte has been spending most of her days working from her apartment. Separating from Still House, her home away from home, is not easy though, so she has been biking back-and-forth to safely pack orders and check in on the shop. The designer shares where she has been finding comfort and how she is welcoming the unfamiliar feeling of having time, a “gift” she calls it.
Have you started practicing a new daily ritual that you didn’t have time for or that you didn’t feel the need for previously?
I’ve always found baths very relaxing. Since quarantine started, I’ve been taking my bath time a lot more seriously. These days, I take them almost daily, either in the mornings before I start working or instead of a lunch break. I love it and I will miss this ritual when the time comes to give it up.
But the more important ritual is the 7p.m. clap. It’s a simple gesture, but it gives me so much comfort and fills my heart with love and hope. I pray that it reaches the medical workers and provides them with at least a temporary relief. We are all so grateful for what they do, fighting our fight.
Did you start reading or watching anything recently that brings you comfort?
I’m revisiting all of my artbooks, taking my time with each illustration on every page. I am rereading a few of my favorite books and listening to podcasts as well. When I feel down about how the current crisis is getting addressed on a national level, I like to listen to HBR's After Hours latest episode. The hosts do a great job analyzing the latest policies and it calms me to hear their take. My partner and I started listening to NPR’s Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me! on weekend mornings again. That never fails to put me in a happy mood.
Staying home has meant more time to be in the kitchen for us. Have you been cooking? Have you discovered any nourishing recipes that are your favorite right now?
I never use recipes because I just can’t follow them. I always end up changing something up or swapping some ingredients for others; it always ends up as a concoction of the recipe, available ingredients in the house, and the meals from my childhood. This has not changed even with so much more cooking at home. My meals are always a combination of roasted vegetables, a salad, and some fish or meat. Then we make an omelette with the leftovers the next day.
I am very lucky because I live with someone who loves cooking and definitely has a talent for it. He always keeps turmeric, cumin, fennel, coriander, bishop’s weed seeds, and fenugreek seeds in our spice drawer. Adding a few coriander and fennel seeds while cooking mushrooms or squash, for instance, makes a huge difference. Recently I added turmeric powder to the pan while cooking purple potatoes and really liked the way that turned out.
“But the more important ritual is the 7p.m. clap. It’s a simple gesture, but it gives me so much comfort and fills my heart with love and hope. I pray that it reaches the medical workers and provides them with at least a temporary relief. We are all so grateful for what they do, fighting our fight.”
Urte Tylaite, Still House's founder
Any playlists or artists you can share for focusing while working, unwinding in the evening, or releasing pent up energy any time of day?
While working, I like using the Calm app. The ‘focus’ tunes under the music tab work very well for me. If not that then Nils Frahm or Lubomyr Melnik. To unwind at the end of the day, I like to dance to Prince, David Bowie, or Stevie Wonder and just let it all out. And to release some pent up energy I usually default to hip-hop.
It can be hard to get exercise when we’re inside most of the day. Have you found fun ways to get physical activity in?
I actually do step outside and go on bike rides from time-to-time. I also started running again.
Have you begun any unexpected projects?
Yes, I started drawing again and taking online classes.
If you’re currently working from home, what helps you balance home life from work life? Do you have any boundaries between the two that keep you productive?
I have never been good at separating the two and that actually does not bother me nor my partner (or at least he says so, hehe!). Still House started as a passion project that I was lucky enough to see grow to the point where it’s able to sustain me. A part of my job is to design and I get ideas at the most random times. Then I have to stop everything, go find my sketchbook, and draw it so I don’t forget. My family and friends are always curious about Still House, as they know how important it is to me, so they always ask me about it when we are catching up on the phone. I like to run some ideas by them. It is actually very hard for me to tell when I am working and when I am not.
How have you been staying connected to family, friends, and the outside world?
A lot of virtual dinner parties and phone calls. We scheduled a dinner party with our friends that moved to Denver many years ago and discussed how funny it is that we are doing this only now. We could have had regular virtual dinner parties since they moved, but it just never occurred to us. I hope we remember to stay this connected to everyone in our lives once this is all behind us.
Any tips for boosting our immune systems and staying healthy?
I have a Green Superfood smoothie every morning. I just mix a scoop of powder with water and always add oat milk for flavor.
Do you have any general/overall advice for remaining calm during this period? What has felt restorative for you?
When quarantine started, I remember this feeling came over me that for the first time in my adulthood life, I have time. It was an awful juxtaposition to the stress and damage this crisis caused on the majority of people. I felt tremendous gratitude for having this new feeling though.
Up to this point, I was always ‘running,’ focusing on efficiency, listening to advice on how to best prioritize my ‘to-do’ list. Now, I’ve been gifted an opportunity to stop that and add to my ‘to-do’ list whatever I please; allow myself to be curious about things that don’t seem to be important or relevant to my current projects, pick up that phone call, or respond to every single email in my inbox. I noticed my quality of work and overall satisfaction increasing.
Over the course of a few weeks, a new routine settled in and my daily schedule started feeling busy again. Since being reminded what ‘having time’ feels like and the effect that feeling can have, I do not want to let go. Now, if I start feeling overwhelmed or in need to rush, I say to myself: “I have time.” This immediately reduces my anxiety, and I feel I am in a much better place to address things in front of me. Regularly reminding myself “I have time” has become my daily mantra of sorts.
SEE STILL HOUSE JEWELRY AND SH WEDDING COLLECTIONS ON OUR WEBSITE
Images by Sharon Radisch
Interview by Ivy Schneider