Interview with Lisa Firer Design

Please introduce yourself?

I’m Lisa, 48 years old, living in Sea Point and working from a small studio in Woodstock, Cape Town. I work mostly as a ceramic artist, designer and small business owner. I also teach mindfulness meditation and see both as art forms!

When & why did you start Lisa Firer Ceramics?

Although born in Cape Town, I grew up in Johannesburg. I decided to come and live in Cape Town in 1996 because it has such a strong craft community and I knew it would be a good place to embark on a career in clay. I worked on my own for about 8 years and slowly started to train a couple of artisans. Today we are a team of 4, myself, Rebecca Khusu, Zine Njokwana and Dagmar Pagel, our studio manager.

Tell me a little more about your concept, brand and store and your favourite

Our brand focuses on creating beautiful slab-built porcelain, the method of making uses textured and coloured hand-rolled porcelain to create our vessels. Our designs reference fabric, patchwork and the process of sewing; paper and origami, embossing and debossing; light and layering. This clay has special and magical qualities of translucency and delicacy. I think that the porcelain light holders that I have been making for the last are what I am best known for.

Where did you study and what is your background?

While I was studying at University some friends and I decided to take up a hobby. We chose ceramics class and the clay bug bit me and I was totally hooked! After my 4th year studying to be a high school teacher, I took the plunge, decided I wanted to pursue ceramics more seriously and completed a further 3 years of study to complete a Ceramic Design Diploma.

Where do you sell your collections/designs mostly?

I sell locally in South Africa through boutique shops and galleries. I also work with interior designers on projects for homes and have over the years have created collections for overseas retailers

What’s your favourite thing you’ve ever created?

It must be the porcelain tea light holder!

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

My main inspiration has always been a line in a poem by the Indian mystic poet Kabir:

Don’t go outside your house to see the flowers.
My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
inside the body and out of it
Before gardens and after gardens.

My own personal inner journey has opened up an ongoing appreciation for the richness and layered texturedness inside myself and all beings. The detailing in my work is an outer expression of this felt sense of inner beauty and complexity… inside all our bodies there are flowers.

What Role does or would you like your work to have in Society?

I am very inspired by the patterning and texturing that human beings create to embellish our lives and the objects in our lives. My work also has a strong spiritual component and I like to use inspiring poetry or prayer on my work. I like the thought that I could share or spread messages of enlightenment through the medium of ceramics. In a world that has lots of trauma and difficulty, I like to feel that I am bringing into being and sharing beauty.

What has/is strongly impacting your work at the moment?

Currently, I think consumers are making ever more careful and thoughtful choices. I am exploring creating ranges of work to suit different markets so ‘scale’ is important. Some of our work is larger and more sculptural. I am also revisiting smaller scale work. 10 years ago I made porcelain jewellery and am making that anew based on where my style is now.

What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?

Life itself is an endless source of creativity and movement Let Life inspire you! Since I have put this into practice I have found that you don’t have to look very far – everywhere I look there is inspiration, in the form of found objects, natural beauty, written wisdom, spoken truths, fabric, even the textures underfoot on a manhole! Creativity also works in cycles and you need to learn to trust the cycles of life and death that are inherent in the creative process. So this is being able to let go of things that no longer work and to allow for periods of rest and rejuvenation.

What are your future plans, dreams and aspirations for Lisa Firer Ceramics?

Keep honing the business aspect of the company. Starting out as a solo creative and morphing into a small design house, that produces batches of carefully and lovingly hand-made ceramics has meant that I have had to shift from working on my own to running a small business and also to become a designer-maker as others are executing my designs. As I have taken more and more interest in the business side of things and not simply the creative aspects, the business has really started to grow and I have discovered a passion for entrepreneurship has been hiding under my creative, ceramicist self. I’m excited to see what happens in the next 2-3 years as I channel my creative energy into the business side of my ceramics business! This continues to be my working edge.

Last words…

It’s such a pleasure having Lisa Firer on board with Urban Noun. Lisa’s passion and involvement in her community and art can be seen in the delicacy of her work. #whywelovewhatwedo

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