Kritika Soni’s handcrafted ceramics reflect her philosophy of finding beauty in imperfection
What took you from textile design to working with clay?
KS: Clay happened to me quite accidentally, when I was pursuing an MA in Textile Design at Chelsea College of Arts (London, UK). I had never touched that material until then. I was working towards my final project and building a collection of garments based on the concept of sustainability and slow design when I had thought of incorporating ceramics into it to further support my thesis. The idea definitely excited me but at the same time, it was very daunting. After discussing it with my faculty, I was encouraged to experiment and try it out. I landed at the ceramic studio in my college, having the clarity of what I wanted to achieve but with no knowledge of how to. Fortunately, I was very patiently helped with the basic technicalities of dealing with the material and it turned out to be a great addition to my project.
That exposure definitely left a lasting impression on me – it played on my mind even after I returned to India after completing my Master’s. I started taking weekend pottery classes alongside my full-time job as a textile designer and I fell in love with clay even more. I realized that if I wanted to better myself at that medium, it required my full 100% focus. So, in 2016 I took a leap of faith, quit my job and moved to ceramics full time. Since then there has been no looking back. I have no regrets about switching my career and I am a happy ceramist today.
What impact did a formal design education have on your career?
KS: My design education has been the backbone of my creative practice. It has shaped my understanding of a good design esthetic and exposed me to various methods and techniques of following through a design process. It has definitely instrumental in enhancing my ability to think new ideas and to convert those ideas into something concrete. My experience of studying at Chelsea was a stepping stone to landing a career in ceramics! I came across Wabi Sabi, a Japanese philosophy of life, at the time of working on my final project, and it remains the basis of my ceramic practice even today. With my background in textile design, I continue to work with textures and patterns, using fabric impressions on clay, as a way of bringing the two contrasting mediums together through juxtaposition and layering. I enjoy merging the soft and the tactile quality of textiles with the strong and tough feel of ceramics.
What’s the story behind Kara Sabi?
KS: I started my ceramic journey under the name ‘Kara Sabi’ in 2016. Having had no formal education in ceramics, I wasn’t confident of running an independent studio and felt it was best to work out of a community art studio run by the Lalit Kala Akademi until I got the hang of things. It has been a great experience so far but now I feel I’m ready to have a studio of my own.
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