Surrounded by palms and the carefree spirit of the locals of Marrakech, founder of LRNCE Laurence Leenaert revises materials' purpose and spontaneously combines elements to create uniquely designed pieces. By sourcing production in North Africa she captures the essence of craftsmanship and the time honoured skills of local artisans.
Launching her brand in 2013 after studying fashion design in Ghent, Belgian sun chaser Laurence made the decision to take her work to Marrakech, where she set up production with local makers to produce artistic and carefully handmade products. Bold marks, earthy colours and a naïve aesthetic mark her style, along with a strong flare for originality. Both artist and designer, Laurence uses almost anything as her medium; from mirrors, shoes, paintings and (our favourite) ceramics.
Important to Tigmi's ethos, Laurence's work supports traditional craftsmanship. Handmade and hand painted in reds, yellows and blues, her ceramics are all one-off artworks and made with the help of local artisans, whose patience and craftsmanship she says, is an important source of inspiration - particularly when it comes to their ceramic pieces made from terracotta based clay.
LRNCE'S appreciation of terracotta started some kilometers outside of Marrakech, where after meeting a passionate young family business she spent two years leaning about the fabrication process of ceramics. From the modelling to the firing of the clay to painting - their artisans Yousef and Hassan explain the ceramic process.
Q. Where does the clay come from?
A. Safi, Morocco. The terracotta clay is transported to Marrakech from this coastal town that is considered as the capital of Moroccan Pottery.
Q. How do you prepare the clay for throwing?
A. The clay arrives in a block. To make it easier to work with, the clay goes through a process that begins with placing the block in a large ceramic basin and mixing it with water, it is left like the for 7 days. On day 8 the artisans knead and work the clay using their feet. This is repeated for 3 days with a break between each day. The last kneading is done by hand. The technique is very important to make the clay malleable and to ensure there are no air bubbles trapped inside that could lead to the piece cracking or breaking.
Q. How long does it take to make a vase?
A. After the clay has been prepared and thrown, it takes 5 days to complete.
Q. How many people are involved?
A. There are 10 people in the team.
Q. How did the artisans learn the craft?
A. The artisans come from Safi, a place known for its craft so they are taught the skills and knowledge through the passing down of generations.
Q. Can you explain the process?
A. Once the ceramic piece has been thrown, it is left out in the sun to dry. Then it is bisque fired in the kiln for 8 hours - a process that converts the clay into a durable material, through a high temperature that reaches 1500 degrees celcius.
Next, white clay powder and water are mixed together and a thin layer is applied to the ceramic piece, which is then left out in the sun. Once the ceramic has dried the piece is ready to be hand-painted. When the design is complete, a final glaze fixes the design to the ceramic piece and gives it a smooth and shiny finish.
Q. Where do the colours for the designs come from?
A. The pigments for the paint come from France, Italy and Turkey.
Q. What makes Moroccan pottery special?
A. The pottery is know for its use of traditional floral motifs and geometric designs. The clay from Safi is known for its metal inlays - with zinc and copper - and is often made of a red clay.
We're thrilled to stock a range of unique LRNCE pieces at our Byron Bay Studio, Newrybar Merchants space and online. To see our current pieces click here.