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Q & A with ceramics artist and designer Lisa Firer

Wednesday, 02 August 2017   (0 Comments)
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Public spaces such as restaurants can open up many doors for designers to showcase their work and raise awareness of beautiful local craft and design, as well as to stretch their creativity and produce work that is different to what they normally do.

One such designer is Cape Town-based ceramics designer and CDI member Lisa Firer, who has completed an exciting project in which she had to design a hanging installation for the new tasha’s restaurant at Ballito Junction in Durban which opened in April this year.

tasha’s is renowned for collaborating with talented designers to create beautiful, bespoke interiors for each of their chain of restaurants around the country.

We caught up with Lisa who describes her experience:

How did the project come about?

In 2006, I was approached together with another artist, Lyndi Sales, to do an installation for the first tasha's restaurant in Johannesburg. Subsequently all tasha's restaurants have had different ceiling installations as their trademark.

Tell us more about your project

Last year I was approached by the current tasha's design team to create a hanging installation for their new restaurant in Ballito – so 10 years later, full circle!

They supplied me with a beautiful reference image of a Greek beach restaurant with a grass ceiling and asked me to interpret it in my medium, which is porcelain clay.

We settled on the idea of a dense collection of different length porcelain ribbons making up the topographical map of Mykonos Island hanging upside down.

Can you describe the process of producing the porcelain ribbons?

My team and I took three months of very hard work. We produced more than 1700 ribbons. Each one was hand-rolled and hand-embossed. I made pressing plates using baskets and palm leaves to create different textures. The ribbons were fired on little porcelain stilts to create waviness.

Packing them up was also a big part of the process. Each ribbon was labelled to take its place in the carefully designed layout. I scoured the local liquor stores for packaging as it turned out that the sturdy boxes that wine is packed in were just the right size and strength.

I worked with the Australian-based design team BASS who helped create the layout and my brilliant project manager was Francois van der Merwe of Live Light Stained Glass. He had designed and installed other tasha's branches and I could not have taken on the job without his expertise and his on-site problem solving capacities. So it took lots of careful communication and trust. I think having a team approach contributed to the success of the project. I could not have done it on my own.

Any challenges?

Firing the porcelain ribbons was a very challenging part of the process for me as they were very delicate and packing and unpacking the heavy and many kilns left me with a sore back! This is good to keep in mind when looking at the ethereal nature of the final installation.

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