Monday, 5 July 2010

Interview with Shan Valla

This week we caught up with designer Shan Valla and found out a little about her creative influences.

When and why did you decide to be a designer?

I never decided to become a designer, it just sort of happened. I never made a conscious decision that I'd work for myself, and make products/objects, I was just always good at art at school and knew I wanted to do something creative. Even though I choose to study ceramics and glass I never really thought about where is was going to take me.

I do however remember at the age of about 13 taking to my best friend in school about what we’d do when we were older. She was really into fashion so we used to dream that we would have a fashion and interiors shop just off Oxford St in London (I grew up in West Wales so I think I’d only been to London once at this time). Now having my studio just up the road from that in Holborn seems bizarrely close to that idea!

What are you main creative influences?

Many of my friends are designer/makers, and my boyfriend and I spend a lot of time talking about interiors and objects.

I’ve got a lot of creative people in my family. My father is a photographer, and my aunt is an artist.

I think that just by being around creative’s make me suddenly feel like creating.

Of course I have studied many artists and designers and other peoples work, which is all stored in my head somewhere and subconsciously it inspires me. There are some pieces of art, or some designs that I just absolutely fall in love with, and they give me a feeling inside. Its this feeling that I want my work to give people….but I don’t quite think I have got there yet.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

Lots of things really. Mostly my ideas come through actually making something. It might be because of a certain material quality that I come across, and want to keep and emphasise, and I may actually end up with an entirely different object than I had planned to make. Some times when things go wrong it brings a new idea.

I frequently think about things to make when I'm just doing everyday jobs, and its often something everyday that has inspired me.

Usually when I'm at my busiest, multitasking, and my mind is racing with everthing that is going on I get about 10 new ideas of things to make.

Who is your favourite designer? What aspect of their work do you most admire?

Lots of people for different reasons.

But if I have to say one…..I love Dutch Design House DEMAKERSVAN.

The simplicity of their designs which are executed exceptionally well. They give a twist to everyday things, making them beautiful. Who would ever have thought a metal fence to be beautiful? It's witty, which I admire.

What aspect of your work give you the most pleasure?

When people fall in love with my work

Where are you most creative?

Anywhere. It depends. Sometimes my studio, but it always takes me a while to settle into a new space….my current studio is only just getting there. Sometimes on the train when I have no distractions. Often when I go home to Wales, and then I may feel creative in my old bedroom. I suppose it used to be my studio as I was growing up. I’d just lock my self in there for hours every evening and draw/paint/make. Mum would never let me have a new carpet as I would always have so much paint and glue all over the place.

What is your workspace/studio like?

I’m based at Cockpit Arts in Holborn, and my studio is in a big room that I share with a jeweller, graphic designer, and ceramicist. I have quite a small space, and seem to keep getting more and more things in it so it is pretty compact. I have 3 work benches, one that I use for ceramics covered in moulds models and porcelain slip, and one for glass that I have my lampworking torch on, and clusters of glass branches all over it, and one for general things. People are always scared of walking into my space with all the glass everywhere, but I sort of forget that its delicate.

I have a desk and big wall for pinning bits on, and loads of shelves for storage. I moved into my studio in October, and it is only just really starting to feel like my space, but week by week it seems to be becoming more me and I start to feel more creative in it.

How do you describe your style?

Fresh, clean, playful, simple, delicate.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working with a several art consultants on multiple glass installations for a new hotel and a new public building, both in London. I’m really excited about these commissions as it enables me to realise some of my far more extravagant and creative ideas, that really need to be in located in large spaces.

I’m currently working with a new ceramic manufacturer, so we are going though the sampling process ready for the first production run. I’m also developing a new glass vase for Hidden Art Select, which I have been prototyping with a glass studio in south London who will be producing it for me.

I'm also starting to work on new ideas for products to be launched in the Autum.

When you first started out, what was the best advice you received?

Have good images. Don’t think too much about an idea, get stuck in.

What advice do you have for other designers starting out?

Learn as much as you can from other people. If you want it, stick at it, its hard work, but when something exciting happens you forget about all of the late nights. Have good images, it makes a product.

How do you achieve a work/life balance?

I don’t think I do at the moment! I think you do have to go with the flow at certain times. There are always points in the year that are busier than others, and so you work more. I’ve just have 5 exhibitions in 6 weeks, which means there hasn’t been much time for the ‘life’ part, but then it should quieten down a little and I’ll take a few long weekends. August usually seems to be quiet in design, so I’ll try and fit in a few holidays….i need the sunshine!

What are you other passions?

I love travelling, and always yearn for my next adventure. I love sporty things, a shot of adrenalin. I love cooking for people, but sadly don’t seem to have time for it at the moment. I love Coffee, so much that last year my boyfriend has even started his own coffee business. Now I love it more.

What is your favourite food?

Ripe Mango. Natural yogurt. Granola.

What is your greatest weakness?

I can never focus on just one thing. I always think the grass is greener.

Trousers or skirts?

Dresses….ask any one who knows me!

Shan Valla's lovely Gold Finch and Milk Bottles are now available online.

No comments: