Interview - Coe & Waito

I have a nice little surprise today. An interview from canadian ceramicists, Alissa and Carly from Coe and Waito. If you visit here often, you may have seen my post on their works now and again and even a post when I was featuring Canadian artists during my guest blog stint on Design Sponge. After a move into their new studio, Alissa and Carly were kind enough to do this mini interview I had requested about their beautiful porcelain jellyfish installation that was first seen at the Come Up to My Room Design Event this past spring :

How did you meet and what attracted you to ceramics?

Our collaborative relationship began when we met while studying Industrial Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design. We took a ceramic mouldmaking class as an elective and fell in love with the material - especially with the possibility of being able to produce our own designs ourselves on a small scale. We incorporated ceramics into our thesis project and decided to start a studio after graduating. The more we work with ceramics, the more we learn, and the more excited we are about the possibilities.

How did you decide on jellyfish? What is your creative process for things like this?

The jellyfish were inspired by the illustrations of Ernst Haekel in his book 'Art Forms in Nature' (plate below). We tend to think that just about anything would be exquisite if rendered in porcelain, and so we thought it would be interesting to try to capture the essence of Haekel's jellyfish illustrations. The event 'Come Up To My Room' at the Gladstone Hotel in February was the perfect venue for us to expand this idea into an installation. (The attached photos are of the installation at Magic Pony where they were on display this April/May)

Where do you turn to for inspiration and what was your intention while creating them?

Haekel's book was our primary reference. His illustrations are incredible because they show the structural details of the jellyfish that are difficult to see in nature. We wanted to somehow capture the awe inspiring quality of both Haekel's illustrations and of living jellyfish. These creatures, and Haekel's depictions of them, have a way of reminding us of the fantastic complexity and mystery that exists in nature. We hoped that our installation may have this effect on the people who viewed it. This project was a bit of a departure for us, with its grand scale and exotic subject matter - we generally
create small objects and look to the nature that exists around us in our urban environment for inspiration. It was a great experience, and has whet our appetite to do more installation-based projects.

To take on what must have been quite a process to build, how did you accomplish this and how did you then install them?

This was our first installation project, and the largest objects we've made, so it was definitely a technical challenge for us. The jellyfish are entirely hand sculpted and mostly assembled on site. There was a lot of planning involved to prepare for the installation. It was a very exciting but stressful project, because we didn't actually get to see a fully assembled jellyfish until we installed them the day before the exhibition began. It was a huge relief when we finally got all 30 jellyfish hung and saw that the room looked just how we hoped it would.

Are you thinking of bringing the idea of these jellyfish at all into a home decor version? e.g. - mobiles?)

The jellyfish are available for sale by special order. We are refining the hanging mechanisms to make them more appropriate for in-home installation.

Who are your favorite designers/artists?

In the world of ceramics we love Ted Muehling and Hella Jongarius - the objects they've designed for Nymphenburg (images below - Muehling left, Jongerius right) are incredible. Our favourite Toronto artist/object maker is our friend Ken Nicol.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

We are developing some new objects, including lighting. We are also working on a new sculptural/installation project for a small group show at Prime Gallery in Toronto this July. We have just moved into a new larger studio and are very excited to have room to grow.

Click on a slideshow for more details and close-ups of Coe & Waito's Jellyfish here

Coe and Waito's Website
Coe and Waito's Blog

Thanks Alissa and Carly!

Jan Halvarson


lisa solomon said...

SO GOOD... thank you for this!!

Sandra Monat said...

wow, these jellyfish are unbelievable! thank you for introducing me to Coe & Waito´s work!

Anonymous said...

What a great interview, thank you! It was a very interesting read!

julie said...

great interview and STUNNING work - thanks Jan!!!


Great interview, Jan! the detailings on the jellyfish are amazing!!

Jan Halvarson said...

thanks for commenting everyone. their work looks stunning!

etre-soi said...

love the interviews :) and their work is really wonderful :)

Anonymous said...

truly amazing work!!
thanks for introducing!!

Anonymous said...

Niceinterview, and the jellyfishes appeal to me so much, it is absolutely beautiful!