Slow Studio

Each launch gives us an opportunity to partner with talented artists and makers, and our Spring ’15 product line includes a handful of incredible designers, with Natania Hume of Slow Studio headlining the list. This season, we are taking stock in our relationships and the things that matter most, and in that spirit, we invited Natania to share how this mindset relates to her life and her work.

Natania’s Slow Studio clay pieces are made one at a time on her potter’s wheel. That means each piece is unique, yet truly special because of this distinct process. Her Potters Dinnerware is made with non-toxic clay, food safe glaze and 100% clean electricity from local, renewable solar and wind sources. This line can be used for everyday meals or weekend entertaining and can be paired with many of our kitchen products.

We had a chance to ask Natania about her design process and how she takes time to find those slow moments in her day. Here’s a peek at what we learned….

How did you get started in the business and who has had the greatest impact on your craft?

"I was an art major with a ceramics concentration in college. However, I grew up in an artistic household where making was an integral part of living.  Although my father is a painter, his hobby when I was young was building a model railroad town, which eventually grew to take up four tables. He made this miniature town with exquisite detail. I didn’t realize until recently how much this influenced me as a maker. He gave as much attention to the inside of the buildings as to the outside.

I was also deeply influenced early on by the pots of Lucie Rye. The clean lines and the subtle surfaces of her work are timeless and I still turn to them for inspiration. I also admire a great many contemporary ceramicists like Edmund de Waal, whose minimalism with clay in some ways gave me permission to pare my Slow Studio line down to its fundamental elements. Thanks to the internet, I follow the work of many other potters all over the world, like Akiko Hirai, Naotsugh Yoshida, Derek Wilson, Anne Mette Hjortshøj and Yumiko Iihoshi to name a few, but the list goes on..."

What do you find most rewarding about the making process?

"I like the idea of the tactile communication that occurs when people (usually people I have never met) use the work I’ve made on a daily basis in their own lives. It is the language of touch (from my hands to theirs) in addition to visual communication, and I think it is one of the unique things about craft. This tactile sensitivity is one way to remind ourselves to live in the present and it helps us slow down and take time to noticed and appreciate the moment.

Making and eating good food does the same thing. My work is meant to complement the slow food movement, which aims to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and organic farming. It is also intended to enhance domestic rituals that keep us connected to each other and to ourselves."

How does your craft relate to the process of slowing down?

"I throw each piece on the potter’s wheel, and although this is one method of production, it is a relatively slow way to make tableware, compared to mass production and the use of molds. I believe that design and making processes should reflect natural time cycles. Objects (and foods) made too quickly lack flavor and integrity. All my work is handmade in small batches and fired with electricity derived from local solar and wind power so that it is as environmentally and socially sustainable as I can make it. I think that people who buy and use my work appreciate that it is an alternative to homogenous mass-produced tableware and that each piece is made individually. Cultivating sensitivity to the objects we own and interact with every day is one aspect of slowing down."

What would you do if you had a slow hour? What would it be like to spend that hour without a pressing matter?

"Well, a hot drink is almost always involved if I have a slow hour. Something about a steaming cup symbolizes for me the essence of taking a break and relaxing. I am also a big walker, and I love being outside if the weather permits. I find that walking my dog is a great way to create headspace and to let my mind meander. This mental wandering is key to rejuvenation in my creative process and although it is not always easy to find time for long walks, I inevitably reap the benefits, both creative and personal, when I do. I’ve even been known to set off for a dog walk with a cup of tea in hand!"

What projects are on the horizon for you?

"I’ve just finished a busy winter with multiple projects having just wound up. So, I am hoping for a little lull during the early summer as I finish up my existing orders. I have some small collaborative projects in the works, which are excellent for inspiration and may grow into more. I am also developing new relationships with a few lovely shops in San Francisco and L.A., so it is fun to be in touch with folks out in the west (especially so when we had 3 feet of snow on the ground!). I’m also working on some new glaze colors, which I am quite excited about. So I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds in the studio in the next few months. As anyone who has ever worked with clay knows, there is never a dull moment."