In an overly-digitized world, it feels crucial to take the time to make things with your own two hands. Or, at least admire people who make things with their own two hands. Chris Earl is a renaissance man in this sense. A ceramist, furniture maker, chef, father, husband, he lives and works in LA with his wife Amber, the general manager of the brand. A real power couple if you ask me, they couldn’t be kinder or more talented. The kind of people who make you wonder how they manage to do it all within the given 24 hours of a day (they just welcomed their second daughter, too!)
Chris opened up his ceramic studio to us and chatted about his multicultural upbringing, inspiration, and all the roles he’s accumulated over the years.
So you’re Danish, but you were raised in Papua New Guinea, and now you live in Los Angeles. Can you tell us how these environments have shaped you creatively?
Well, I think the Danish sensibility in my work must have just come through genetics. I come from a line of quite artistic and hands-on creative types, so I guess some of that got passed along in the blood. I think growing up in Papua New Guinea fostered a sense of resourcefulness and caused me to view things from a slightly unique perspective. Now, living amid the inspiration and diversity of Los Angeles, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to grow more fully as a designer and craftsperson.
What came first—cooking, furniture, or ceramics?
I’ve been making things for as long as I can remember. In fact, my aunt recently gave me a little wooden toy-size table I made for her when I was 5! But, I began building furniture in earnest in my early 20’s. Ceramics and cooking came soon afterward.
When did you realize you wanted to make things?
I can’t remember a time that I didn’t want to make things. Some of my earliest memories are of building things with my dad. My mom says as soon as I could use my hands I was taking things apart and trying to build new inventions out of them.
Which medium do you most enjoy working with?
It’s too hard to decide since they each have their own special qualities. I guess if pushed, I’d settle on woodworking. The way it interacts with every one of the senses makes it such a pleasure to work with.
Describe your typical work day.
Each day varies. I’m not one to keep to a strict schedule. But, I’m generally up early with the kids to help out with breakfast etc. Then, depending on what I have ahead of me, I could be out to the wood shop or ceramic studio to build, out for a meeting, or spending time sketching for new designs.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration all around. Often it will be one little aspect of a structure, or element of nature, or standard everyday object that will get my mind turning and meandering down a road toward a new design or a tweak on an existing one.
Aside from cooking and design, what are your other interests?
I tend to be pretty active, and like most things that will get me out traveling and exploring the world around us.
Has having children changed the way you work?
Having kids definitely throws some changes into the mix. It’s mostly just a matter of realigning the day from time to time or becoming more efficient with the time I have. I have to admit though, it may be one of my favorite things in the world to have our toddler trundle out to the shop to say hi to me and root around looking for how she can ‘help out’!
What do you see yourself as most—a chef, designer, or father?
The new dad factor wins out on those! Although, I think each of them actually contributes to the other.
What’s next? Do you see your work expanding into other fields?
Yah! I’m constantly thinking of new ideas and avenues to pursue. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing some of those come to fruition in the near future. I’ve learned, for me, it’s best to keep quiet and just do rather than predict and project every field I want to pursue.