Ana Kerin is the Slovenian-born founder of ceramics brand KANA London, and we wanted to get to know her a little better by finding out what makes KANA one of the most exciting brands emerging in London today.
It is always about creating objects that you would want to hold on to; objects that have value added to them.
KANA offers a bespoke range of beautifully hand-made and hand-painted ceramics for the home, as well as also offering workshops for those who are looking to learn the skill themselves. Ana’s style is distinctive; here we get to discover what lies behind the beautiful pieces she creates…
IDEALIST: How did Kana come about?
ANA: Kana started about 5 years ago, after I slowly developed a strong interest and curiosity in working with functional objects whilst applying a fine art technique to working with clay. It is always about creating objects that you would want to hold on to; objects that have value added to them. There was also always a very strong interest in working with food.
IDEALIST: As a ceramicist, what training did you go through?
ANA: I studied Fine art and Sculpture. I had very old fashioned fine art training, which was an amazing experience. I feel very lucky to have those foundations, and it has largely dictated my style and technique today.
IDEALIST: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
ANA: My favourite things are the sea, islands and sea holidays. Swimming in the sea and lying on rocks heals me, and fills me with energy and inspiration. New ideas just float on the surface.
I draw other inspiration from good books, architecture, contemporary dance shows and inspiring people I work with.
It’s really about having time to just observe and to see beauty in the smaller details.
I feel the inspiration comes from details I notice on my way around a city, or holidays where you have more time to really slow down and observe.
I spent two months in Tuscany this summer where I was invited to an art residency. There were a lot of details and beautiful moments I discovered which will definitely inspire and resonate within me for a while.
She recalls: “…the beautiful morning light on the wall of the old marble staircase…the huge shadows of the tree falling on the facade of the pink and burnt orange colour villa …”
Bend in the Road
IDEALIST: What have been your biggest challenges so far?
ANA: About 2 years ago my hands went numb. I was in huge pain non-stop and couldn’t sleep for weeks. I was told that I had a condition which inflamed the nerves in my hands, which the doctors had advised may stop me from continuing my passion. This health issue was really hard to accept, particularly as Kana was just starting out. I haven’t even been able to talk about it for a long time. Eventually I decided that I have to either quit or work with it. I had to rethink my way of working and change from a one-person studio production into a creative studio, with a small team of really great people to help me. It is super fun but extremely challenging to let go of something that used to be just me. However, it is exciting and inspiring. My hands are feeling much better too!
IDEALIST: What are your top 5 design tips for the home?
- Work with light. The home is like a living structure. Find the movement of light and question what times of day you spend in which space. Live with light across your home.
- Use natural materials for everything. Stick with wood, stone, glass, and ceramics.
- We spend 1/3 of our time in bed so invest in the best bed linen, mattress, duvet and pillows you can.
- Cherish old pieces and tradition. Stories come with historic objects and they are often made well. Invest in beautiful, functional, high quality pieces that will last more than one life time.
- Less is more. Leave space to breathe!
IDEALIST: Which creative personalities do your draw from?
ANA: It changes with time. I am inspired by so many art movements as well as very primitive art.
I draw from many areas of creative work, and mostly not directly related to ceramics. I do think quite often about artists that have lived quite extroverted, extraordinary and extravagant lives – the ones that are pushing people out of their comfort zone in one way or another. I find it attractive and inspiring. A few people I keep referring to when I think about my work are: Giuseppe Pennone, Pina Baucsh, Pedro Amoldovar, Banana Yoshimoto, Picasso, Brancussi, Lars Von Trier and Josep Lluis Sert.
Be true to your style.
Advice for Ceramicists
IDEALIST: What advice would you give to a ceramicist who is looking to start their own studio?
ANA: Be careful to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s physical and intense work and it’s important to not overwork your body.
Be true to your style. Develop your language and stick to it. It doesn’t matter how long it takes people to pick up on it.
IDEALIST: Where do you see Kana in 5 years?
ANA: I would love it to grow as a creative studio, and work on projects internationally. I am interested in evolving by working on many more multidisciplinary projects. Working with architects, artists, chefs, and other ceramicists and designers would be great, especially as I find it very exciting to get a chance to work on bespoke large scale tiled surfaces for private and commercial clients. That’s something I would love to explore.
I would love to grow and build a team that has many sets of skills. As a sculptor I see myself personally stepping back towards fine art again. I might have a show in the pipe line!
IDEALIST: Are there any exciting collaborations or projects on the horizon?
ANA: There are quite few! The new Breddos tacos restaurant is opening on 7th of October in Soho and I have made a lot of plates and bowls for them.
I am working on a wall installation with a new retailer in Hamburg and also a collection for a beautiful retailer in Copenhagen. There are also a few that it’s too early to talk about…watch this space!
If you would like to see more of Ana’s work in detail visit her studio and even enrol on her one of her workshops! You can also see her designs this week throughout London Design Fair. She will be at: STAND 2 / British Craft Pavilion / Old Truman Brewery / 21st – 24th of September
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All photos courtesy of KANA London.