Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet
Mariana Folberg

June 27, 2017

Technology and the natural world don’t usually tend to go happily hand-in-hand, though you wouldn’t know it from looking at the work of San Francisco-based artist and industrial designer Mariana Folberg. Folberg’s Let it Glow Lamp—a new addition to our assortment—melds meticulous, handcrafted design inspired by the magic of plants with electric light, creating an exciting, inventive tribute to the outdoors that keeps away things that go bump in the night.

Here at UncommonGoods, we’re always excited to welcome new makers into the fold, and Mariana is no exception. Read on for tales of traveling X-Acto knives, her young son (otherwise known as her greatest critic), and more.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist? 

Since I can remember, I always liked to paint and create stuff. I remember that as kid I hated going to school, and I wasn’t very good at it either, but in crafts class I always got an A. And that was the only class that I was interested in.

My mother, knowing that I liked art so much, always nurtured it by sending me to art classes in after school programs. Since then I have explored many fields in art, including theater, but I always went back to painting and creating objects.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?

As an industrial designer I know that my designs have a “life” when they leave the studio. When a person purchases my design, I get a lot of satisfaction knowing that my design has started its “life,” being in someone’s home or being gifted to a loved one. The knowledge that someone is enjoying my design and gets inspired by it is for me the most exciting part of being a designer and is a huge motivation to continue working.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

Not long ago I discovered that I have owned the same X-Acto knife since I was a student at the art academy in Israel [Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design]. I am not an organized person. I graduated ten years ago and since then I have moved to a lot of different apartments and even moved to a different continent, I changed a few studios and all this time I didn’t lose this X-Acto knife. So I think if I will ever have a talisman, this X-Acto knife deserves the title.

What does your typical day in the studio look like?

My work is divided to three parts—development, production, and promotion.

My ideal day at the studio is a day when I can do at least a little bit of advancement in each of those parts. But not every day is ideal, and because the development—which is the actual design process—is my favorite part, a lot of times I need to force myself to stop and work on the other aspects of the business.

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?

My son is a kindergartner and he’s my best critic. When I want to know how my design looks or to get honest feedback I can count on him.

This has actually become an important step in my design process. When I designed the [Let It Glow] Lamp, one night I put the lamp on the dining table for my son to see in the morning. When he asked me, “Mom, how does this plant grow?” that’s the moment I knew the design was finished.

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

Mar de fe is the name of my studio; in Spanish it means “sea of faith.” I chose to name my studio with this positive affirmation as a reminder to myself and as a message to others to always believe in ourselves. I strongly believe that when you believe in yourself everything is possible.


  • Reply Paula Boyce November 29, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    I would like to Know it how it stays lit , i realy wish i could afford it on but
    do not get much on my ssi but you do amazing work good luck in it
    Thank You
    Paula Boyce

    • Reply Hadley November 30, 2017 at 10:13 am

      Hi, Paula! There is a low-heat LED bulb inside the clay pot–that’s what lights up the leaves. Hope this helps.

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