Tell us a little about you and your backgroundMONO:
Kumi originally trained as a glass blower in Japan, before moving to Adelaide to undertake a 2 year traineeship in the Glass Studio at JamFactory. John studied Industrial Design, before undertaking the traineeship in the Furniture Studio at JamFactory. Our first experience of working together was in making a present for one of our good friends. Shortly after this, we established Studio Mono in 2011.
Can you describe the early days when you began designing and making together?MONO:
It was a very steep learning curve having to learn each other’s medium. Glass blowing and woodworking don’t share many similar techniques, so it was sometimes a challenge understanding what could and couldn’t be achieved in the other person’s medium. This ignorance has also been a blessing as it helps to push us both into trying things we wouldn’t normally consider in our own independent practices.
Do you have a shared design philosophy?MONO:
It’s not a design philosophy, but we both want to create beautiful objects, things we would be proud to have in our own home.
How would you describe your work? How has it evolved?MONO:
Studio Mono is a combination of the contrasting qualities of glass and wood. Our products often have a sense of playfulness and invite the user to interact with the objects.
Where do you draw inspiration from?MONO:
Inspiration comes from many sources and we both like to look outside of our own creative fields. Kumi is drawn towards the beauty and elegance of structures found within nature, while John just loves to tinker and experiment in the workshop, whether it be learning how to weld a bike frame or repairing electronic components.
What’s coming up next for you?MONO:
To be honest, we’re not sure. Eventually, our aim is to set up a shared studio space. Life is always in a state of flux and we’re happy just to have the chance to live and work together.
CoO: Tell us a little bit about you and your background.LS:
In January of next year (2017), I will have lived half of my life in New Zealand and half of my life in Australia. I have seen quite a few places since I left NZ and now I live in Adelaide with my family.
CoO: Can you describe the early days when you began designing and making?LS:
In those early days I thought I knew it all. I quickly realised I knew nothing at all. Everything was a challenge because it was so new and it was super exciting because I was learning something all the time, like now. One of the most useful things that I learnt was that there is no right or wrong way of doing things. What matters is that the desired outcome is achieved (with the least amount of tears).
CoO: What drew you to your craft initially?LS:
My parents have always been hands on. My father worked in an freezing works for the most of his career, he’s pretty amazing with a knife and my mother has been a successful hairdresser for ever. She was pretty talented on the sewing machine too, she could whip up anything. Her mum was a gun with the needle - she knitted, crocheted and made endless numbers of tapestries. So I think I had it in my blood. I kind of fell into furniture design when I was in Europe in 1999. I was in southern Sweden and spending a fair bit of time in Copenhagen. That’s when I got hooked.
CoO: Do you have a design philosophy?LS:
My design philosophy has always been about presenting the most elegant marriage of materials with functionality. It’s a difficult task that requires the consideration of many factors which are not immediately appreciated.
CoO: How would you describe your work? How has it evolved?LS:
I would say that my work references the Scandinavian aesthetic. It is honest and representative of the Australian vernacular that we currently live and breathe. The evolution of my work is driven by a desire to exemplify the greater complexity of working with a natural material like timber. Regardless of the tree’s life being defunct, the timber is still very much alive!
CoO: What does your typical work day look like?LS:
I keep the day pretty structured, it helps me to know where everything is at! I attend to the business side things first of all, making sure everything is on track. Then I get out into the workshop and make things happen. This is where I do my best work! I start early in the morning & make sure I’m home at a reasonable hour so that I can put in some quality time with my family.
CoO: What do you like to get up to on your day/days off?LS:
I love getting out into nature, there’s real beauty out there in the wilderness! We do a lot of camping & when the weather is good we’ll head to the beach for the day. Otherwise I’m in the garden.
CoO: Where do you draw your inspiration from?LS:
I see inspiration in a lot of things. It could be the repetitive pattern of a natural formation, or the result of a man made process. The way shadows are formed & light bouncing of surfaces. The way you hold a particular item & how that feels in your hands. The everyday occurrences that go unnoticed.
CoO: What’s coming up next for you?LS:
I have been designing some new work for a long term Melbourne client. I’m also working with a family in Germany. They have commissioned me to design and make them some furniture for their holiday house here in Adelaide. I’m working on a local project that when completed will be an all South Australian affair. Watch this space!
CoO: Tell us a little bit about you and your background.SJM:
I’m an Adelaide based ceramicist. I work out of my workshop called 6 Hands Studio, that I share with 2 other lovely ceramic artists Sophia Phillips and Alison Smiles. I graduated from Adelaide College of the Arts at the end of 2006 with a Bachelor Degree in Visual Arts and Applied Design. I then went on to do the 2 year associate program at Jam Factory in the Ceramic Studio, where I learnt the finer details of designing and developing contemporary craft and design objects. I predominately use porcelain but I have been experimenting and introducing other clay bodies such as white and buff raku, red stoneware and even a bit of terracotta.
CoO: Can you describe the early days when you began designing and making?SJM:
When I was at the Jam Factory, the major outcome of the associate program was to practice sustainability, which meant designing and developing your own production range. The ceramics studio was equipped with everything that I needed, all I had to do was come up with something unique, well made and well resolved which sounds easier than what it actually was. So the pressure was on!! I never really liked glazing so whatever I was going to make involve minimal glazing. That was the reason I chose porcelain, it has this beautiful flesh like quality to it and when fire it to its optimum temperature, it actually starts vitrify and self-glazes. I also really wanted to embellish the surface of my work to compensate for lack of colour and decoration. This is when I started my love of mark making and changing the hard visual exterior of ceramics to something soft and woven like and this became the beginning of my altered form production range and I’ve been making it ever since.
CoO: What drew you to your craft initially?SJM:
This is a funny story. When I started to study I never wanted to do ceramics, I wanted to be a sculptor and making things on a pottery wheel … well that was never going to happen!!! But when I started the ceramics foundation class with Bruce Nuske, my world changed. He introduced me to mine field of ceramic artists doing these amazing things with clay and this really changed my perception of ceramics and the importance it plays in the visual arts and contemporary craft design community, both here in Australia and overseas
CoO: Do you have a design philosophy?SJM:
Design philosophy … hhhmmm!! That’s a hard one … making things well and never cut corners.
CoO: What does your typical work day look like?SJM:
I’ve found over the years that you don’t dictate clay, clay dictates you!! But when all the planets do align, my ideal typical day would go like this … I’d start the morning with trimming and altering what I threw on the pottery wheel the day before and make some mugs handles if need be. Then the afternoon, I’d throw more pots ready for the following day and the process repeats itself. There are other unsavoury bits that you have to do such as sanding, glazing, cleaning and loading kilns. These tasks can be a little stressful at times because of the risk factor associated with them which can potentially ruin a kiln load of work and if and when it happens, you just take a deep breath, put your head down and make the work all over again.
CoO: Where do you draw your inspiration from?SJM:
My first real inspiration came about while collaborating with indigenous women of Ernabella in Alice Springs back in 2008. When these amazing talented ladies would take a break, some would do basket weaving. I was transfixed by the process and how they would start with a couple of strands of raffia and make these little things of beauty. I saw a parallel between how I make objects on the pottery wheel, using a small ball of clay the same way you would start with a strands of raffia. This went on with the introduction of mark making on the forms which represents my weave. This inspiration still influences my work today and I hope it still does in the future.
CoO: What’s coming up next for you?SJM:
There are some changes in the wind, so watch this space.
CoO:Tell us a little bit about you and your background.KC:
I am an Adelaide based potter working with various hand building techniques using stoneware clays. I work out of my home studio, usually with my pet bunny Tilvie by my side.
CoO: Can you describe the early days when you began designing and making?KC:
I didn’t know what I was doing! I just played a lot and learnt with a trail and error method!
CoO: What drew you to your craft initially?KC:
I think I liked that pottery is something that you can use. I used to be a painter and would do paintings about everyday rituals, but using clay to make functional work allows you to actively participate in those ideas, rather than just think about them.
CoO: Do you have a design philosophy?KC:
To make useful things that feel good to hold, use and look at.
CoO: What does your typical work day look like? What do you like to get up to on your day/ days off?KC:
I usually wake early and have coffee and cuddle time with Tilvie bun, then have more coffee and breakfast with my fiancee Rohan. Studio time all day, which is usually a mix of making, glazing, firing, emails and taking photos. This is interspersed with quick breaks for cups of tea and lunch, finishing up late afternoon in time to make dinner. I find it hard to take whole days off, but I like moving things around in the garden, or going for walks in the hills with Rohan if I can pull myself away from clay!
CoO: CoO: Where do you draw your inspiration from?KC:
Being in the kitchen, foraging for flowers which need the perfect vase… Usually very practical concerns such as ‘oh, I need that, I’ll make one’. This combined with the materiality of clay itself; how my hands or a tool can manipulate the form to create endless variations on shape and pattern.
CoO: What’s coming up next for you?KC:
I’m gearing up for the busy Christmas season with lots of works for shops and markets, which is always very exciting, but also terrifying! And once that’s done I have plans to make lots of little dishes as favours for our wedding next year.