At work with: Kana London

We visited Ana Kerin, founder of Kana London, in her Hackney-based studio to talk inspiration, lockdown challenges and what she enjoyed most about working on our summer collaboration.
At work with: Kana London 2

Kana London is a ceramic studio based in East London, established in 2012 by founder Ana Kerin. Ana’s style of working is both unique and tactile; each piece is made by hand rather than using traditional ceramic methods, such as using a wheel. It’s easy to see that her handcrafted approach is what sets her apart from the rest – her way of working allows for more creativity and you can always find beauty in the imperfections of her final creations.

Having always admired Ana’s work, we chose to collaborate on a summer project – two ceramic candles in our bestselling summer scents, Flore and Light, suitable for both inside and outside use. We visited Ana’s studio in early spring to discuss the project and find out a little more about the woman behind the clay.

Can you tell us a bit about your education and career path so far?

I completed extended fine art training and studied sculpture in both my BA and MA at Academy of Fine Art and Design in Ljubljana and NCAD in Dublin. Alongside my fine art practice and academic studies, I’ve previously worked as a producer and project manager for many NGO organisations, developing and executing projects on a national and international scale. Somehow this led me to working in the film industry for a short period of time as well as working in creative studios. When I moved to London, I ended up juggling work between production, art direction, styling, hospitality and events. My art and sculpture took a back seat for a while, but working in creative spaces with creative people got my inspiration going again and I started working on my ceramics. Very quickly, exciting collaborations started to form between myself and other artists and brands. This developed and I started Kana Studio in 2012. At Kana, we focus on art meets function, working with clay to create beautiful handmade pieces that are one of a kind. I miss working with other materials sometimes, and who knows, in the future maybe we’ll try something new but for now, clay is the only material I need.

Nature is central to your work – what about it continues to inspire you?

I find it hard to explain, but the natural landscapes I see and experience feel as if they are imprinted on me. Visual experiences that I am naturally drawn to manage to make their way to the surface of my work are re-created in my ceramics. I think I’m also drawn to bringing the feel of nature and natural materials into living spaces for people to enjoy inside their own homes too.

Little things in nature inspire me – like the sky in London! I’m one of those people who finds the ever-changing (hourly) weather landscape of this city extremely soothing and satisfying. It’s almost chaotic sometimes and it never gets boring – I guess what I’m trying to say is that nature is ever-changing and will always continue to be a huge source of inspiration.

What did you enjoy most about our collaborative summer project?

I love collaborations as it gives the potential of exploring new ways of working and different ideas that you might not have thought of on your own. It was exciting to figure out what we would collaborate on – we started the conversation off with ceramic lids and then spoke about dinner candles and candle holders, and finally decided that a statement outdoor candle would be the best – I loved that process. We made the right choice – the change to the pace of life in lockdown over the past few months means that people are embracing the time they get to spend at home and these candles seem to be perfect for this reason. It makes me very happy that we will contribute to many a magical summer evening and bring the feel of summer into peoples’ homes.

How have you managed to keep up a working routine through the challenges of lockdown?

Honestly, I haven’t! In the beginning, at times, I felt as if my work consumed me completely as I was working late nights and finding it difficult to stick to a proper routine. Work was seeping into my evenings and weekends and my days were blurring into one another. Since then though, I have tried to develop a new routine. I started running, baking, making kombucha, meditating every morning and watched movies in the evenings (even though my screen time was already pretty high!). I couldn’t keep it all up and have settled into a routine now that works for me which includes yoga, meditation, three healthy meals a day and some time in the studio. I also try and make sure I get some time to myself as that’s really important to me.

What value does scent have in your home or workspace?

It definitely changes all the time. At home I like neutral scents – I love the smell of fresh bedding, especially if they’ve been dried outside on a windy day. I also love the smell of freshly ground coffee – it makes me so nostalgic and reminds me of my childhood. When it comes to the studio though, there are so many scents that relate to the materials we use that can sometimes be quite strong and overpowering. I’m usually happy when I can’t smell anything at all at the studio as it helps me focus more on the task at hand.

Are you currently reading anything?

Helena Attlee – The Land Where Lemons Grow.

I miss Italy – I usually read books in the country that they were written in – I read this book last year when visiting Sicily. I came back to it this year to re-read and transport my mind back to the sun-soaked island. I miss it and can’t wait to travel again once we can.

Is there space for sustainability within your practice?

When it comes to ceramic production, our studio is very close to zero waste. The clay is usually recycled and re-purposed – broken pieces are sometimes made into Kintsugi art pieces and I am working on a new project to re-use the broken pieces to make them into tiles, which I will then use to adorn a new limited run of furniture. We are also committed to recycling packaging and reusing all the wrapping and boxes that our deliveries come in which is why, sometimes orders might be wrapped in bubble wrap or look slightly misbranded when you order from us.

Essentially, Kana Studio is strongly devoted to promoting a slow living and conscious consumption mentality. We hope that in creating work with added value, people will buy less and for purpose, with the intention of buying products for life, contributing to a more mindful future that is much closer to how our ancestors lived – buy well and buy for life.

When your day at the studio is done, how do you like to relax on a summer’s night?

A long walk or a candle lit picnic with good friends, good food and good wine!

You can shop the KANA x Evermore London candles here.

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