Simplicity at its Best
Since they moved to Montreal in 2010, French graphic designer Léa and architectural technician Nicolas, have been creating beautiful ceramics. Together, they create collections of functional household goods with simple yet striking shapes.
Hi Léa and Nicolas!
When did you realise that you wanted to pursue a career as a ceramist?
I realised that I wanted to study ceramics when I was 18. I was completely disconnected from my professional future back then and didn't think through the idea of making an actual living in France with a ceramic degree. However, when I graduated, making a living as a ceramist felt impossible so I ended up studying graphic design and multimedia instead.
It was only a decade later, burnt by my professional life as a graphic designer, that I realised that I had to follow my gut and do what I always wanted to do. So Nicolas and I rented a little studio, bought a cheap kiln and there we were, hands in mud after work!
Luckily, Nicolas got hooked into ceramics straight away and decided that that was the right path for him too!
What do you think you would be doing today if you had not become ceramists?
We feel that we have just got started so we are not even considering another possibility as of yet.
What would you say are the challenges faced by ceramists nowadays?
Our previous jobs required quick answers to superfluous needs and as a ceramist one of the challenges can be to accept a slower pace in work, life and humility. On the creative side another challenge can be to resist the easiness of trends.
What does a normal day in the studio look like?
It has only been a year since both of us we were able to become full time ceramists. We have recently moved to the countryside where we now have a home studio.
For this past year, a normal day in the studio has mainly consisted of making pieces behind the pottery wheel and loading up the kiln. As well as, setting up an online store, figuring out the best packing techniques, building a booth and loads of shelves, learning welding, plumbing, kiln fixing, photo shooting and book keeping!
There’s loads to do besides making pottery and we love to do most of it ourselves.
"Through our pieces we hope to surprise our customers by introducing sculptural elements into their everday lives!"
Could you tell us a little bit more about your creative process when it comes to designing and making?
Ideas usually start as a conversation and tend to come from our own needs.
Then, we start sketching the shape of the product to be with the intention of making it as simple as possible. We always think about what we can subtract but also how we can push the limits of the shape without compromising its function.
Afterwards, the making process begins following the same principals, making more with less. This influences our choice of materials - we use almost only clay (a Canadian red or white stoneware) and the ornamentation of the piece. For us, an ornament must be part of the structure of the piece too. For instance, the voluminous handle in our teapot or mug is both structure and ornament.
We understand that each piece is unique and different, however, how long does it take you as an average to make one of your pieces?
We haven’t done the math but taking into consideration that there are a lot of steps between wedging the clay and unloading the kiln, plus adding that we are slow makers and that we love complex shapes… We’d say it takes a long time!
What do you hope to communicate to your customers with your products?
Through our pieces we hope to share that the simple idea of going back to basics can create the unexpected. We hope to keep surprising our customers by always researching and trying new shapes that will introduce striking sculptural pieces that they can use in their everyday life.
A more sustainable lifestyle is extremely important to us and our customers. Could you tell us what you do to approach your business in a more sustainable way?
For us, life and sustainability go hand in hand and we work like we live, in sobriety and simplicity.
This means consuming the minimum and producing only what we really need for a living.
As mentioned before, we work with a minimum amount of materials, we also work with very few tools, all second hand, we also recycle our clay and repair and make our own tools. In the end, we have come to the realisation that we don’t need much, except time and sweat, to make our pieces.
Do you have any plans for the near future to increase your sustainability even further?
We are planning on building a little home and studio to reduce our energy consumption and becoming more self-sufficient by growing chickens!
If you had to choose only one of the pieces that you made to take with you forever, which one would it be?
This tumbler made by Nicolas in 2016!
It’s made using the coil technique. It’s double walled so it doesn’t need a handle and it keeps the heat incredibly well.
We still use it everyday and it feels like this is where it all started.