Interview with Flavia del Pra

The Brazilian ceramicist and designer Flavia del Pra is recognised for her innovative designs and beautiful craftsmanship. The customisable MIX&MATCH collection of serving platters which was recently expanded to include a series of side tables was produced in collaboration with GAN. The collection is the perfect example of how she combines the hand made sensibility of her craft with a practical and mass produced piece of furniture. Here Flavia explains the inspiration behind her work.

What do you think about the way your collection with GAN is growing?

I’m super proud to be part of the GAN family!
The pedestal trays were well received by the market (we were awarded 2 prizes last year) so we decided to make it bigger by transforming the trays into side tables…the idea is the same; to be beautiful but practical, so you can play with the different MIX&MATCH arrangements in your living room or other areas in the house.

Can you tell us about the way this product can be used in the home, as well as in public spaces, commercial installations, hospitality and workplaces?

For the pedestal trays, the potential is enormous because the collection offers a lot of possibilities in terms of sizes, formats and patterns.
For the side tables, they are very functional because they are light and have handles… so the idea is to have a moveable piece of furniture. You can keep it beside your sofa, and if you have guests you can move it around to serve appetizers and drinks.
And for commercial spaces, within a shop let’s say, if you need to highlight a special product within or in the shop window, the tables work perfectly. Because the tabletop is made with ceramic tiles, developed by me and fired at 1,200 degrees Celsius, they are heat resistant and perfect for serving food directly on the table surface.
Also, your glass of red wine won’t leave a stain!

Where did you grow up, and how did it influence your work?

I grew up in the Brazilian countryside, in my parent’s house we were used to building and inventing things because we were a few hours away from the nearest big commercial centre.
I designed my dolls and their clothes using anything we had in hand… My mother also taught us to make glue from flour, so we could produce our inventions.
During my childhood in this amazing place, I got the idea that I could make things by hand that I could not find anywhere else, and then sell them …
I think I have been a designer for as long as I can remember!

Can you describe some of your more recent projects?

Here in Brazil I’m developing a new encaustic cement tile (different format) and I’m super thrilled with it!
I have also recently produced a new collection of table lamps incorporating copper pieces and an exquisite hand-produced necklace in Mexico.
And the rounded pedestal trays that look gorgeous!
I forgot to mention the copper hangers!
Things are really popping for 2018!!

What part of your work is the most enjoyable for you?

All of it! From researching the right materials, sourcing the right suppliers, trying the moulds and the first pieces, testing the colours, etc.
Sometimes even the first imperfections lead me on a totally different path. Working with ceramics is never boring.

Do you have any personal superstitions? Any rules that influence your work?
I always test the first pieces at home. I use them for days, to see how they can be used or improved, it’s not a superstition but I like to have the feedback from everyone in the house (we range from 6 to 50 years old at home).

Which person, place, or thing (inside the industry or out) inspires you?

I simply love Sotsass.
And Josef Albers (“Art work deals with the problem of a piece of art, but more, it teaches the process of all creating, the shaping out of the shapeless. We learn from it that no picture exists before it is done, no form before it is shaped.”)
And the French potter Valentine Schlegel.
And Ruth Duckworth. And Athos Bulcão. And Patricia Urquiola…
So many that I will never be able to name them all….

An item you couldn’t live without?

It’s a little ridiculous but that would be my laptop.

Your favourite historic interior or building?

As a Brazilian I have to say Casa de Vidro by Lina and Pietro Bardi, located here in São Paulo
A colour, a shape, a material.
Turquoise. Any shape. Ceramics in any form.

Do you have any advice for young designers?

Be truthful to your ideas and do it tirelessly…but only stay in business if you really feel love and are passionate about what you do!