Brands to Know | Question the Answer

When you meet a designer that truly embodies their brand’s aesthetic, you can’t wait to learn more about them: how they create, where they find inspiration, just anything that will give you more insight into what pushes them to design.

I first met Lauren Carlson, the designer behind Question the Answer, last year during Memphis Fashion Week. Her hand-carved sugar skulls and diamond pieces where on display during the preview party, and we bonded over our love of silver heels (she paired hers unexpectedly with a little back dress that night). She’s a quintessential Memphis Midtown girl (and coincidentally,  lived literally 2 doors down from me a few months prior to us meeting!), so I was enamored with her from the start and I knew I had to feature her on the blog.

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We collaborated together last year on her first lookbook, but we finally, FINALLY were able to do the official interview now that she’s expanded her line to include metalwork and relaunched her Etsy store. Read on to learn more about this delightful little lady, and why you should have a few Question the Answer pieces in your own collection.

What is your earliest memory with creating jewelry?
I remember being in the 4th grade and having an armful of knotted bracelets done in many different color threads. I obsessed over learning new knot designs & patterns.

“Question the Answer” has a deep, almost spiritual meaning. How did you come up with the name for your line?
When deciding on a name for my business, I knew I wanted it to be called something that would remind me of why I began making jewelry. An adornment, worn as a symbol, is a beautiful yet powerful way to display your beliefs, accomplishments and memories. I wanted my collection to signify my thoughts, but also to question a seemingly endless human need for inanimate things. This idea of “desire” continually challenges me to always question my motive. Whether we’re talking politics or religion, “desire” or the need to fill a void, will always interest me and that is where Question the Answer came from. I wanted to make jewelry that represented that void to me.

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After creating a few pieces, what motivated you to start on a full collection?
When I first started my collection I was struggling with materials and finding the right medium for my aesthetic. I began using wood and India ink as my primary tools. Once I felt I had literally utilized those instruments to their limit, I began searching for a medium that wouldn’t be so limiting and that’s when I started working with metals. Metal has allowed me to craft many different designs I would never have been able to create before.

What makes this collection different from your last?
This collection just feels right to me. The introduction of metal has really opened some doors in terms of design. For example, the new sugar skulls, with a sterling silver setting, feel as though they are exactly what I set out to make three years ago. They are certainly the most impactful to me. Eternal curiosity pretty much refers to any piece I’ve made within the last year, and I think this birthing collection has really grown and is allowing me to expand my ideas for the future.
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What’s one thing you want people to know about you/your brand?
I want people to understand just how much time and effort I put into making a piece well. I highly value good craftsmanship and I work hard to make sure that each piece will last a lifetime. When you purchase something Question the Answer, you can be confident in that.

Where do you seek/find inspiration?
I love human anatomy; I certainly don’t understand a lot of it but it’s so inspiring to learn about. Whenever I learn some crazy fact about our anatomy, it always makes so much sense to me, as if that it was the only way that something could be made or function. Because of this inspiration, I think that relatable subjects such as the universe and different culture’s “Creation” stories are also visually stimulating for my imagination as well. All of it relates, it all connects in my mind. I like to pick and choose different parts of these stories in order to visualize creation in my own way. In this respect, I believe that every culture contributes a piece to the puzzle, and that helps me to understand this life.

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You went to Paris last year prior to launching your first collection. What was your biggest takeaway from the trip?
In Paris, you cannot resist being enthused over how luxurious and desirable they make things appear. You might not even be in the market for a pair of shoes you may only wear once or a new bag that’s totally impractical, but suddenly you feel as though you cannot exist without it. As you may guess, this wisely engineered desire really provokes my work.

What’s your design process like? Do you sketch out images first or do you create freehand and go where the moment takes you?
Sometimes I sketch pieces to work out a logistical problem. Although most of the time, I decide upon an idea and I begin a trial and error process until I have made close to what was originally planned. The design evolves into something else when I begin to work three-dimensionally; there is always something unpredictable that happens.

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Question the Answer has evolved from hand carved wooden pieces to including metal work. What made you decide to expand the line?
The expansion was unavoidable. I decided if I really wanted to continue making jewelry I had to start working with metals, there’s only so much you can make in wood before you start fighting your materials. I’m still learning so there are pros and cons to that. The pros being I stumble upon techniques when trying to solve a problem, the cons being the time and efforts I put into trial and error cannot always be accounted for. I’m getting better. I still want to learn to cast.

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Anytime you create, every piece is your “favorite”, but if you had to choose, which one would yours be?
Currently I’m obsessing over my gemstone bangles. I love the inclusion of stones and that the piece feels strong and substantial yet remains dainty and feminine.

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What plans do you have for the line? (Events, pop-up shops, etc).
I’m presently searching for the appropriate retail spaces to sell my work. Also I’ve applied for a couple of juried indie markets & eventually I would LOVE to sell at any of the Renegade Craft Fairs around the nation.

What does style mean to you?
Style is a costume but not a disguise. To me, style promotes you and what you’re all about, whether you like it or not. We adorn ourselves in pieces that feed & radiate our soul.

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Visit www.questiontheasnwer.com to learn more about Lauren, get a peak inside her life (she just returned from a fabulous trip to Paris!) and to shop the collection.

Photography: Well Worn Co.
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