Derrick Jones StudioAnnelise Richardson
Empowerment through Craft: Derrick Jones Studio’s Renaissance of Art
Turning forgotten articles into unique, upcycled accessories.
The first thing you notice when you step inside the apartment-turned-studio of Derrick Jones in Rome’s Monteverde Vecchio is the lack of visible wall space. It appears as though the walls of his living room are springing to life with thoughts and words of their own. Or perhaps it is better compared with a living sketchbook – notes, sketches, and other peculiarities serve as wallpaper to the small apartment. Prototypes of past and future projects are displayed proudly on nearly every surface, integrating themselves into the decor of the real life “Derrick Jones Studio”.
Meet Derrick Jones: artist, educator, and dynamo of all things contemporary and innovative. An expat originally from South Beach, Florida, Jones was carried to the Eternal City by way of his odyssey through the professional fashion industry. A journey that began in a “hideous little boutique” in Miami and settled at Burberry, Jones’ life is a story of resilience, empowerment, and maintaining authenticity amongst the changing forces of modernity.
Derrick is someone that can captivate an audience for hours with his illuminated speech and stories of world escapades. He sees the world through the eyes of an optimist, and his unlimited creative power is immediately evident in the products he invents. As a young person, Jones moved to New York City where he worked at Macy’s in Herald Square and eventually became the youngest executive in store design and visual merchandising. The job taught him how to make things that are not only functional and practical, but aesthetically pleasing. He then moved to Rome and worked for Burberry as a visual merchandiser for 14 years. Now, after a successful career, Jones is breaking away from the mainstream market and making bringing innovative art accessible and sustainable.
“It’s all relative; if you go back home and you find a creative solution for something and you’ve done it on your own, that’s empowerment.”
Jones’ first product “Cuff to Cup” was born from a last-minute dinner party invitation and the lack of a wine gift bag. Careful not to disrespect the sanctity of wine in front of Italians, Jones fastened a pseudo-gift bag for a bottle from a scrap of fabric. In true Roman fashion, he took something old and kept it alive; from the sleeve of a shirt from Rome’s Porta Portese flea market, the first model of “Cuff to Cup” was created.
“I wanted there to be a very powerful statement about upcycling.” said Derrick, a longtime frequenter of the market along the Tiber’s left bank. “Cuff to Cup embodies everything I believe in; upcycling, a taste for design, improving the [wine] culture in some small way – if that’s even possible.”
“The Jones”, his newest creation, marries flexibility and upcycling in a multi-functional accessory that can be worn by any gender in a number of different ways. Sling it over your shoulder and use it as a bag, fashion a unique vest, or come up with your own unique use. Inclusivity is at the forefront of Derrick’s brand, and there are no wrong answers when it comes to wearing “The Jones”.
Derrick’s’ passion for growth and flexibility embody everything that a business should encompass the modern world environment. He is not simply a businessman or artisan – he cares for each and every customer, and communicates his message of empowerment and personal responsibility through the products he sells.
“It’s about upcycling, it’s about doing something green, and it’s also the embodiment of building your creativity and looking at things in a different way,” Jones says. “Because that’s what I think we really need; a renaissance. It’s about breaking down the walls we put up around ourselves. Cuff to Cup is a symbol of all of that. You look at it and see that everyone has ideas of their own.”
“I guarantee that I haven’t met anyone that I couldn’t pull a bit of creativity out of.”
Derrick Jones Studio embodies the values of a modern business with a central philosophy of sustainability. All the materials that compose his products are recycled, down to the handmade labels. This diverts used clothing away from landfills and gives it a new purpose. “It’s a gift, it’s a conversation piece… Every single one has its own personality. I’ve been sad to see some go,” said Jones.