TSKC's Ashuni Pérez interviews ceramics duo Flóra and Szaffi of SUSU Keramika!
Tell us a bit about yourselves. How did you meet?
We think it was destiny. We had to meet, we had so many mutual friends, but somehow we only met at parties sometimes. We always liked each other, and each others style and clothes and colors but never knew more, our friends said many times that we should really do/make something together but this was a blurry idea of a future plan, now we know that both of us was interested back then, but we didn’t know this about the other, we never talked. At one point when Szaffi moved back from Berlin, she wrote me a message, that maybe we could try to begin a small business together. It came completely out of the blue and I remember I was very surprised and very happy.
Where did you find the inspiration for Susu Keramika?
We needed something where we could use all of our skills. In ceramics everything comes in one package. It’s great that we design, form, paint, and that the results are useful, everyday objects. Its art and design together. Also Flóra’s mother is a ceramist, and her studio was given, this made the decision easier, we didn’t have to start everything from zero, and from her we got the knowledge of where to buy, what to use etc…
Our brand name also came in a very obvious way, we both lived in Indonesia for a year, and loved the word “susu”, which means milk. But it also has a meaning in Hungarian or it’s more like an expression for somebody who is being sassy and messy in a nice, funny, girly, pixelated way. We feel like that, and our ceramics are definitely like that.
I love how each piece feels truly one of a kind. Do you prefer making singles or sets?
It doesn’t really matter, but it’s always nice to see how they can create a set when we put them next to each other. It’s fun to arrange them at fairs and for the sake of nice photos.
There are a lot of fun little characters in your work. Are there any specific figures or stories you draw upon?
No specific figures, if you can say such a thing. The truth is that both of us have been drawing and sketching our entire lives. We have characters what we really love, and finally there is a platform where we can show these, they are not hidden anymore in secret notebooks. But many times it happens the other way around, we paint something and just later we realize what it is. Like when Flóra started to paint trees in the wind, and just when it came out from the kiln she understood that those are trees in Indonesia, when the monsoon is coming and the air is hot and humid. And when we feel our own drawing, it inspires us to do the golden details. With these trees Flóra made many tiny dots all around, and said “This is it! The golden dust was missing.”
But for sure, faces, hands, trees are our favourites and always some hidden surprises on the back of the ceramics.
Some of your vases and bowls are quite funky shapes. Are they designed that way or is it more of a spontaneous thing?
Most of the time they are designed that way, there is always spontaneity to it, as the clay is very soft and changes a lot in our hands. It’s also depending on our mood, how much we feel like experimenting, playing and figuring out new designs or getting ready with the orders.
What is your creative process like? What goes into making a piece?
That is a long story, it goes like this: We buy the clay, mostly in ten kilogram pieces. We shape the form, we don’t do pottery but build up things. After they need to dry, when they are dry enough and ready to be fired, we need to make them a little nicer and smoother with a wet sponge. then comes the 1000 degrees in a kiln. When they are ready they are much stronger and less fragile than before. Now we can begin to paint, after the paint we put the glaze on, as a coating. With this the ceramic can resist water. Now comes the second firing. It is super exciting to wait for that part. In that big heat everything changes, all the colours come to life and some of them melt together. We love to wait for the surprises with every firing. And we cannot describe the joy, taking them out one by one without knowing what to expect. The last part is optional but we almost always do it: making everything a hundred times more beautiful and special with golden paint. This needs one more session in the kiln, but not as hot as the two before. So that would be the process.
The color palettes in your work are a nice combination of warm and cool. What colors do you gravitate towards?
We are in love with colors. Love the faded ones, like the walls of old houses in South America, love the neon ones, pastel ones, the warm and the cold, to combine them or make the piece monochrome and simple. In our clothing and daily life we are the same, colors everywhere. The best thing. It’s a feast for your eyes.
The theme of this issue is ‘Blue’. What do you think of when you think of the color blue?
Szaffi: Blue blood.
Flóra: Simplicity, something deep, Japanese objects, the opening part of the movie “The Big Blue”, ink, water of course, salty sea water dripping down on your hair and chin after swimming.
Do you have any upcoming projects or shows?
Christmas is coming, so we have more upcoming markets than usual, and there are a bunch of design shops, as well, in Budapest whom resell our products. We are planning to hold a Christmas workshop where we would like to collaborate with a graphic designer who makes riso prints in our studio.
Where can we see more of your work?
They are in are several Hungarian design shops, and a very big thing for us is that we just opened our own little shop/studio/gallery. These are all in Budapest. We are on Instagram, but we plan to make a website and webshop. Unfortunately, there are no shops abroad where you can find SUSU but we are in contact with some in New York, Berlin, Amsterdam and Brussel, so sooner or later SUSU will be abroad, too. We hope. But until then, come to Budapest and visit us.