Speed Date / ZHENI, ceramicist
Where are you from?
I’m Russian. I was born in young industrial Siberian city Novosibirsk and moved to Slovakia 6 years ago.
Where did you study?
My passion for shapes came from architecture which I was studying in my early years back in Siberia. Classical architecture education became a base of my understanding of space and objects. After the start of my career as an architect I moved to Europe where I found my new home in Bratislava. Its historical and handcrafted background revealed my true obsession with the materials and textures and I started to practice at evening classes in one old man pottery studio. It took around 12 months to get the skills, back then I could already see my way in ceramics. I believe in the moment! Where mistakes are allowed and every touch can change the object, make it unique and exclusive. Spending every day in my workshop/studio brings me new ideas and working with clay can teach us many things about the past, present and how we explore it in the future with new exciting techniques.
Who is your best teacher?
Who is my teacher? Mother nature is my trusted teacher which guides me throughout my experience. It has a crucial impact on my work especially when it comes to natural phenomenon, seasonal changes and transformation.
Who were/are your parents?
My parents were people who showed me how to be strong and independent. I’m really pleased that from a young age I was given a freedom to live my own life, to get my own experience. It still gives me power to move forward, to build the life I want.
I got creativity from my mother. She was never professional artist or designer. But in everyday life of my childhood, in those 90s crisis periods in Russia when it was totally rebuilding and were no resources for good living she was always creating: beautiful carnival costumes from nothing, interesting meals from poor amounts of products and atmosphere of love. I remember that she was writing poetry for my birthday and it’s still magic for me. That feeling of love and appreciation.
What don’t you enjoy in design?
Architecture or design is a developing space on a different scales. Environment we have around us affects humans every day so there is a great responsibility in working in a design field. I do not appreciate when design specialists do their job in a low quality and irresponsible way following only financial benefits from their work.
And on the contrary, what do you?
Material progress and possibilities it gives to design.
What music do you listen to?
Basically, I like different music – depending on mood.
Now I have a period when with a music choice my teenage spirit goes out – so old school hip hop or a punk rock.
Your favourite film or cartoon?
I don’t watch a lot of movies or series. I prefer to read more.
But there are some I like: Twin Peaks, Suspiria by Luca Guadagnino, Valley of flowers by Pan Nalin, Dead men by Jim Jarmush, Life is beautiful by Roberto Benigni.
Who do you respect as an authority in and out of your field?
The biggest authority is freedom. And no other comment is there.
The last thing you bought?
Jeans from Ukrainian upcycling brand Ksenia Schnaider.
Do you buy professional literature? What was the latest book?
Yes. the last book I bought was Crafts by Fabien Petiot and Chloe Braunstein-Kriegel.
Do you vote?
Who throws the best parties?
My friends and me.
Your favourite dome?
Party dress. Made by…?
I don’t like parties when you should be in dress. I like events when you are free to be whoever you want. So no dress at all. Naked body:D
Your hero from the past?
Sea. And I’m a whale.
Do you have any stereotypes when you work? How do they show?
When you have freedom you don’t have stereotypes.
What’s on your desktop?
Books. Photo camera. Vase. Laptop. Ivy in a flowerpot.
Architectural biennale in Venice.
What do you respect both from the local and foreign design scene? And why?
I respect everyone who’s working with responsibility, honesty, and having joy.
Morals or money?
Balans obidvoch strán.
Meir Shalev – Four meals.
Optimist, pessimist, nihilist?
Do you have any hobby?
Plants. I think my plants is something for the soul that I have in everyday life. There are a lot of plants at my home and with which I actively experiment: replanting, grafting, growing from seeds, watching reactions- no end activities.
Solo or in a collective?
Both. I need to spend time alone and I like quality communication a lot.