Marta Bonilla's organic shaped ceramics prove that functionality can be fun. Playful and voluptuous, her designs have a biomorphic quality that can be likened to a Miró character, an artist that Marta calls one of her artistic inspirations.
Beginning her business as a hobby just five years ago, little by little her production grew as her orders did. Her works have since garnered international acclaim, with a commission for the new Soho House in Paris, and her forms frequenting the pages of Architectural Digest.
We spoke to Marta about her process, and she kindly painted a picture of a regular day in the studio for her at home in Born, Barcelona.
How would you define the style of your work, and how did it develop?
For me the process of my work comes in a very natural way. It's what I like to do, I have a good time and I enjoy designing and creating the pieces. I started without great pretensions, simply as a way to play and develop a hobby and little by little the production and the orders grew.
Talk us through your creative process, how do you begin?
My creative process begins with being attentive to everything around me. In the most everyday objects, spaces and places that make me feel good, in the culture, art, cinema and documentaries that I try to consume whenever I can. Sometimes I start working with the clay keeping the final shape very clear in mind, sometimes I start with an idea and in the process I change it. Sometimes I like to draw objects and shapes beforehand, but most of the time I define the final shape during the process.
What is the most enjoyable and also the most challenging part of working with clay as a medium?
Clay is a very grateful material, since once you understand its way of acting, it is a material that allows multiple possibilities. But at the same time it is a living material, which when mixed with enamels many surprises appear, in which we cannot always control the final result, and that is challenging, and sometimes frustrating, but many other times it is magical.
Your ceramics have bold organic forms, what can you tell us about their unique shapes?
I have always been attracted to organic shapes. Whenever I am in nature, I find forms that surprise and fascinate me. I like the unpretentious forms, the simplicity and the beauty of simplicity. I imagine that for this reason my designs tend to lean towards this, when I start to work it is the forms that appear and in which I feel comfortable and find the beauty of the object.
I have always been attracted to organic shapes. Whenever I am in nature, I find forms that surprise and fascinate me. I like the unpretentious forms, the simplicity and the beauty of simplicity.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
It is a sensation when looking at it, many times it is a very clear sensation, since it is just what you had in mind, or not necessarily, but you look at the piece and you know it. When I look at it and I have doubts, in those cases I always remake the parts that I don't like or change the design.
Where do you draw unexpected inspiration from?
There are places that really help to be calmer, more connected and more creative. A place that helps me a lot for this is my country house, surrounded by olive trees, the sea and nature. I also find inspiration in looking at the origins of the profession, in the most primitive of it, in those forms and in the usefulness of them. Also to look at the work and career of artists I like, for example, such as Joan Miró, Josep Lluís Sert or Valentine Schlegel.
Do you have a dream project you would love to make happen someday?
I always try to improve and put new challenges, I feel the desire to make bigger pieces, and carries out projects related to interior design and architecture.
Tigmi is Berber for my home, what can you tell us about your home in Barcelona?
In Barcelona I live in the Born district, near the sea. I have been in this area for almost 10 years, and for now I have no thoughts of changing though it is not easy to live on a high floor, with a baby and without an elevator, but I love the light in the house, seeing the rooftops from the other neighbours, with plants and many different shades of green and see the old chimneys of the city. Strolling through the streets of Born is one of the things that relaxes me the most, its old buildings and the variety of neighbours.
Tigmi have just received a beautiful and limited Marta Bonilla collection.