O&A London celebrates its 20th anniversary this year! With a growing number of international projects, and to create distinctive collections of furniture, lighting, textiles, wallpaper and rugs under its unique brand, the company develops collaborative projects with amazing and talented people. We are fortunate to work with leaders in their field: people who do not see boundaries and make the impossible possible. We proudly name these creators, not just as partners but as co-designers and friends.
We are now delighted to announce the anniversary project «20 // 20». The project will present a series of exclusive interviews.
Today we are delighted to share our interview with Valeria Nascimento, the artist and creative pioneer in the world of ceramics.
O&A: Valeria, what did you dream about when you were a child?
VN: I grew up in Brazil surrounded by exuberant nature. As a child I used to play outside most of the time. One of my favorite hobbies was to pretend I was travelling in Europe and seeing beautiful old cities, the arts, the architecture and landscapes. This curiosity has always fed into my art and creative processes.
O&A: You were born in Brazil and studied architecture. When and where were you introduced to clay? Why are you in love with this material?
VN: I began to make ceramics in 1986 shortly after graduating in architecture. I have always loved working with my hands and ceramics allowed me to explore this. Porcelain has the smoothness and malleability that I need to create new shapes, manipulating it to appear – in some cases – defiantly weightless.
O&A: Who are you more – an artist or a ceramicist?
VN: I feel I am more an artist that uses clay as a way to communicate my concepts. My work doesn’t utilize the traditional methods of clay building – throwing, coil-building, slab building – and I don’t see my material as the guide for my work but more the medium through which I can explore and execute my ideas.
O&A: What is your source of inspiration? How do you manage not to repeat yourself when creating new patterns, while maintaining your signature style?
VN: My inspiration is drawn mostly from the natural world and as nature is so diverse I always find shapes and patterns that inspire me to create different compositions.
O&A: What is your mission as an artist?
VN: I aim to create works that inspire, connect and touch in an emotional way, contributing to public awareness of the art of ceramics, and to encourage the viewer to reflect on the beauty of nature and life.
O&A: Your works are cohesive sculptural groups that consist of hundreds and even thousands of separate handmade elements. Could you, please, share with us some of the secrets of creative processes? How many people are in your team? How do you usually start your work?
VN: I have a team of 4 assistants in my studio who help me with the preparation process as the quantities of pieces can be quite overwhelming. Initially I start my work with drawings and after that I make miniatures to give me an idea of how it would look. Once the design of the shape is perfected we begin to produce the pieces in larger quantities and I can start exploring different formations.
O&A: You have collaborations with international brands such as Tiffany & Co, Wedgewood, Channel, and your works are exhibited in galleries all over the globe. Is there a museum where you dream to see your works displayed? Or is there a brand you are dreaming to collaborate with?
VN: I consider myself very fortunate to have been working intensively for the last 20 years on large-scale porcelain installations, side by side with architects and interior designers, for brands and private projects. I have been very privileged to see my work in many beautiful galleries around the world and, if I could choose a museum, I would be delighted to see my work at the Victoria & Albert museum as it is a wonderful venue for applied and decorative arts and design.
O&A: Valeria, tell us about your collaboration with O&A London? How did you meet Anna and Oleg?
VN: Anna got in touch and visited my studio many years ago. From that first visit we have been collaborating on many different private projects. Anna invited me to many O&A London events including the exciting Holiday House as well as a series of conversations celebrating the arrival of O&A in London. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with Anna and Oleg on some of their amazing projects over the years.
The last project we collaborated with O&A London was the ecological initiative ‘Save the Ocean’. The aim of the creative collaboration is to support organisations committed to cleaning up the oceans.
O&A: Have you ever been to Russia? Do you have any intention to create something inspired by Russia? The structure of a snowflake? Or Russian ballet?
VN: I haven’t had the chance to visit Russia but it is definitely on my list. I am sure that once I am able to see the majestic architecture and natural landscapes Russia would inspire me to make new works.
O&A: What is more inspirational for you – to create something for art without any boundaries or to create a custom project solving a specific challenge in a specific space?
VN: Both present their own challenges and interest. Working without any constraints allows me to create work that is uniquely mine; conversely working within briefs can push me outside my comfort zone and into new and unexplored areas.
O&A: Who inspires you? (artists, architects, designers)
VN: My work carries references to both architectural and botanical forms. From an early age I felt influenced by the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx and also the great works of Oscar Niemeyer.
O&A: Tenderness is the first emotion people feel when they see your art. What kind of emotions do you feel every day?
VN: My working day is varied and I have ups and downs making me feel sometimes very excited or it can also be frustrating, depending on the subjects I encounter day by day. I find making my porcelain work can be really peaceful, however dealing with the hectic schedule of the studio can sometimes be very stressful.
O&A: What are you dreaming about today?
VN: I am dreaming about the future when the world would be free of this pandemic and we all could go back to our lives and careers exploring, travelling and getting inspired.