Spotlight : Makepeace United founder, Kai Zimmermann

One of the joys of working in a creative industry is discovering talent from across the artistic spectrum. New York-based Kai Zimmermann was introduced to the blog through a member of the McQueens clan, and we were immediately captivated by his minimalist ceramics. Kai’s pottery (Makepeace is influenced by machine parts and clean form – some are functional vessels whilst other designs are pure follies, simply to admire! We were delighted to catch up with the talented ceramicist and find out more about his clay creations…

How did your fascination with pottery begin?

I love the possibilities and the timelessness of pottery. An object made from the earth and then fired way too hot and then fired again – this mythical process of earth and fire and the balance of breakable yet lasting forever. I still cherish the clay animals my father made when he was a young man.

But I started making pottery out of arrogance. I believed all the wrong people made all the wrong pottery, I thought I could quickly fake cool pottery: that didn’t work out. But I found this pursuit of ‘structural emotions’, the pursuit of truth in shapes and objects that surprise in their imbalance between light and darkness.

How did you develop your distinctive style?

You fail a lot and all the perfect things have already been done anyhow, so I feel free to play with the tension of ugliness, awkwardness and goofy. All my pieces are thrown on the wheel – embracing this limitation of everything being circular, building and combining shapes to find a new vocabulary and not creating conventionally beautiful things is liberating.

What inspires you?

The freedom here is not to hew to any conventions of beauty, or functionality or even form. So what I find inspiring are emotional moments: bland, good, banal, anger, lust and perhaps a few more that I may not even be aware of.

Hefty German words are another inspiration.

What is your creative process?

I have a rough idea what I am looking for – I never find it, so I take detours.

Kai's latest work

As florists, we share the same tactile and immersive experience of creating with our hands. How would you describe your experience of the physicality of your work?

It is delightful to have your hands talk to each other with the brain not involved and to be surprised at what emerges. Experiencing pottery, in my mind, is a lot about the touch and the weight, how the surfaces feel and the sound, blowing into or tapping it.

What are your plans for the future?

To make pottery that means something to the people I care about. Make more pottery that is stronger and stronger.        I dream about pottery furniture. I want to make the most useful pottery to eat and drink from and the most useless pottery that does not do anything but inspire.

Follow Kai and his beautiful ceramics at Makepeace United on Instagram