British born, New York-based ceramist Romy Northover runs No., a ceramic and glassware studio which uses Japanese principles of production, such as borrowing the needing technique used to make soba noodles. Romy describes her state of mind as:
“Hands in the mud and head in the cosmos.”
Romy refers to the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi when describing her work; the ethos that perfection can be found in imperfection:
“I like to counterbalance the soft, distorted, slightly eroded look with a really shiny surface. There are nuances of which direction you spin the wheel and how you remove the piece from the wheel.”
Despite organic appearances, the skill is precise executed. Romy has created an exclusive collaboration for Alex Eagle: black, crackle white and gold-lustre ceramic cups and translucent glasses.
“The gold looks magical when filled with sparkling water or champagne.”
Where are you based?
I live in Park Slope. I think a lot of Europeans gravitate towards this area, its quite leafy. I work out of a shared studio in Long Island City called Sculpture Space NYC; it’s a beautiful, enormous open space with skylights and is completely painted white inside. It’s terrific to have a space that is so open in New York because everything is so cramped – you can really step back from your work and reflect on it.
What drew you to ceramics?
I was always very drawn towards creative stuff. I studied ceramics at Mayfield Girls School in the UK and did GCSE and A-level ceramics which is quite unusual. All of my family is creative; there are designers, filmmakers, so it would have been a surprise if any of us took a different direction. I had a fantastic teacher and she really encouraged us to expand above and beyond the preconceived notion of ceramics.
What were you making to begin with?
I had more of a sculptural and figurative interest. I think I referenced classicism a lot more when I was younger and was still learning about form.
How do you describe what you do and what you produce?
I say ‘ceramics’. It’s really my key medium and its somewhere between art, design and craft. I don’t think I need to put it into any one category.
Is your work functional or decorative?
It’s a bit of both. To tell you the truth most of my favourite pieces either get sold or get given away as gifts to my friends so I normally end up with the piece that might have a crack in. I do use them a lot and there are some pieces that I have a special relationship to which perform more a decorative objects. I feel like they should be able to hold their own in both situations.
You have lived and worked in many cities including Hong Kong, Venice and Berlin. Is your creative output different depending on your location?
I’m very sensitive to my space and surroundings. It feels like a transmission; you receive information from where you are and it definitely translates into my work. With all these experiences they somehow go to a deeper level. It’s very good in terms of perspective. I want the brand that I run to be unisex and international, I don’t feel too tethered to any one place. I like to look into other cultures and investigate other ways of producing and communicating.