Finding the balance between craft and design
Study Bouchra Boudoua’s ceramics and you’ll see the simplicity of the Moroccan countryside, but also the complexity of patterns found in architectural details in the villages in the south of Morocco. Pottery aficionados will get a chance to view her new collection of terracotta bowls and platters at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource February 4-7 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
Bouchra studied spatial design in at Central St. Marins in London. “When I moved back to Morocco I felt like working as a designer, not specifically interior designer, but all design related fields could not feel complete without first learning about crafts that are such an inherent part of Moroccan culture. That's how I found myself making prototypes in a tiny pottery studio outside of Marrakech.”
Collaborating with local potters, Bouchra learned that making pottery has its high and low points and they can occur all in one day’s of work. One of the most challenging aspects of her work, which she confesses is also the best part of her job—is finding the balance between craft and design. “Finding that balance gives space to learning about traditional techniques, trying to enhance those techniques, but also sharing my point of view and listening to the potters' own experiences. When we are able to find that balance and we are satisfied with the end product its usually a success for all of us!”
Her current collection is a line of graphic terracotta bowls and plates called Skoura. Berber mudhouses and the patterns found in the architecture of Berber villages provide the inspiration to the unique design. Her design process she explains is not organized, but free style. She begins by sketching ideas in her sketchbook and discusses with the potters the various shapes and forms the vessels can take. “I usually have an idea of the shape I want in my head but its never what it ends up to be. The master potter creates the shape on the wheel and then we talk about different techniques in which I could translate my patterns. This is the longest process as I'm always trying to test new techniques that take up a lot of time in terms of prototyping.”
When everyone is pleased with prototype, Bouchra paints patterns. Once she’s satisfied with the result, she teaches a group of men how to paint those patterns on the pottery. “Usually pottery painters have a very linear and symmetrial approach to decorating pots. Its challenging to move away from that method of working and into something that is much more relaxed and hence naturally imperfect. I set the tone by showing the pattern but from one hand to another the lines can be thicker, thinner, straighter, and that's what makes each piece unique. That for me is the essence of handmade work.”
For more information, www.bouchraboudoua.com.