Designer Q & A: Kana, London
Designer Q & A: Kana, London
Couverture was invited inside the beautiful East London studio space of Ana Kerin, the sculpting aficionado behind Couverture’s newest homeware recruit Kana, London. A trained sculptor, Ana was kind enough to share her creative journey, in designing, constructing and decorating everyday objects that are each individually marked by her fingerprints.
Q: Can you tell us more about your background?
A: My background is in Fine Arts, with my speciality in sculpture. I was lucky enough to be one of the last generations to be trained in a very old-school program at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia. As sculptors we had the privilege of also being trained in painting, life drawing, printing techniques, fine arts history, art theory, philosophy, and sculpture technology. My studies were very intense but wonderful. It is hard to explain how much of a transformation you go through when you are training for 10 hours a day for four years every day.
Q: What made you start your own company?
A: It has been a very natural progression. I wanted to make my own work. I knew I needed to have a studio workspace to have ultimate freedom to create in many disciplines. When I first moved to London I did not know that I would eventually come to focus on functional ceramics, but I knew I had to start somewhere. I wanted to create something that brought me closer to a person’s daily use of objects and to create those objects in the same form as art objects.
I started alone working as a part time sole trader but with the growing orders, and with the excitement that those projects brought with them, I had to set up a larger studio that now allows me the freedom and capacity to create a much wider variety of work. It is all very exciting I can now do that.
Q: What influences your designs?
A: Curiosity. Nature, life and lifestyles. Cultural differences, everyday life routines, habits, what make up small personal rituals.
People. I love observing how different we all are. I get inspired by people a lot. How we are attached to objects, places, songs, scents, memories, and the nostalgic value in things. We love returning to familiar places.
I am influenced by very non-obvious beauty. I love seeing how people use objects in different ways. The objects that live many lives.
My work has always been about non-tangible value. The touch that leaves traces, on a more metaphorical level.
Q: You have a more alternative methodology, can you tell us more about how you go about creating your pieces?
A: On a conceptual level my methodology is very simple. I work on many projects at the same time. This way they all stay fresh. I do not want to get bored and I do not want the ideas to get ‘tired’ and warn out by overdoing them. I need to float around from one idea to another. Some projects are in a stage of not even knowing which material I should use yet. I leave pieces on the shelf until their time comes and I know how to finish them off. Sometimes I focus on the art direction for a shoot to step away from studio work and then I can return and see my own work with a fresh perspective.
The practical side of my work methodology is born out of the necessity that comes with making large scale sculptures. I have been casting my own body and then pressing the plaster casts into clay. I have reversed that process over and over again to get the layers of the fingertip traces. So the pieces have two sides of ‘skin’ texture on their surface.
For most of my work we still use this reverse mould pressing technique. This way all the pieces have unique patterns from the hands that have built them on the inside, with the creased, rough, skin-like texture on the outside. This creates the ‘body of work’.
Q: Is functionality as important as aesthetic for you?
A: Yes, for some of my work functionality is equally important. Only because I love working with limitations as part of the brief. I love to work along the thin line between being functional and sculptural. Some pieces are more one than the other. But the beauty of functionality has become more and more appealing to me.
I always work on many different pieces simultaneously. Some of my work explores the form without trying to be please aesthetically or to be functional.
Q: How does London inspire you?
A: It keeps my curiosity alive. It never fails to surprise me. It is not an easy city, but it gives you as much as you are willing to give it. And that only seems fair.
It gives me a great sense of freedom. The diversity in the city and its’ never ending flow of people coming and leaving creates a sense of acceptance as we are all ‘in the same boat’.
Q: Apart from ceramics and art, what other passions do you have?
A: I love cooking. I love experimenting with food. And I love having friends over for dinner and spending time together, storytelling and cooking together. It is the ultimate life sharing experience.
And ‘me’ time. Which is usually related to sea and island life. Spending as much time as I can by the sea is a passion of mine. There is something about floating in isolation from the land that I find incredibly soothing.
Q: What do you like about Notting Hill?
A: The history of how many transformations it has gone through. It has lived so many different lives, so many different stories. It is like a very wise old woman that has been married a few times and lived throughout the world. I would like to know her secrets. Notting Hill Carnival always makes me think about that.
Q: What else is in the pipeline for Kana London?
A: I am launching my new collection this autumn during London Design Festival. This has been a large project I have been working on for a very long time now. I am really looking forward to seeing how it is going to be received. There are a few exciting projects and collaborations I have been working on this past year. I will be working with some new materials as well. I have always wanted to create a collection in glass and to find a way to translate my sculptural forms into furniture. Let’s see!