The Architect’s Wife has always been focused internally on showcasing our showroom space and the artists, creators, or makers within it. But given the current circumstances, we’re learning to shift our focus and connect with people in new ways. More importantly, we want to shine a light on craftspeople and the creativity they contribute to our community. In this “Stoop Stories” series, The Architect’s Wife visits friends and makers to share how they’re staying in/spired.
Let us introduce you to Marianne Robilotta – Owner and Potter of Basiclai – a full line of handcrafted, functional pottery. The intention behind Marianne's pieces is to offer a foundational aesthetic that can stand alone or be woven into any existing style. Basiclai will inspire you to "choose your possessions wisely and love what you own". We are grateful for our stoop exchange – Marianne's positive spirit gave us a lift and served as a reminder amongst current uncertain state of the world, to remain mindful of the objects we surround ourselves with. And spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are very important.
Tell us what you do. How did you fall into your craft?
I consider myself a Production Potter, meaning I produce large quantities of pre-designed functional pieces that are as close to identical as possible. I chose pottery in college, randomly. I had no real pottery background what-so-ever. Luckily, I loved it and it became my thing.
What was your first ever job?
I worked at a gift shop. I mostly gift wrapped (which is something I used to be really into).
Can you tell us about your creative process? And do you have any funny work habits?
I love making spreadsheets with my throwing and firing schedule for the week/month. I don't know if that would be considered creative in itself, but it takes the stress out of worrying about having enough time to get everything done. With that stress under control, it frees my mind so that I can come up with new ideas (that I can then get scheduled on the spreadsheet, of course). While I work I almost always listen to true crime podcasts.
What have you been up to during these quarantine pandemic times? How are you staying sane? Picked up any new hobbies? Any enlightening moments?
Pottery has been keeping me sane. I don't know what I would of done without my home studio. I've also had more time to focus of things like my website, my social media presence and marketing which has been on my "to do" list for a long time. I've also really been enjoying getting to know about some new chefs, bakers and farms around town that we've started getting home delivery from. It's been nice supporting locals and finding new alternative ways to shop and get food.
And how's work looking the moment – are you busy, or is Coronavirus having a big impact?
During the first 2 months of quarantine I had so much time to focus on pottery that I was able to stock my inventory with about 800 pieces. Before Coronavirus, I threw 4 days a week for Mountain Arts Pottery and worked on my pottery as a side hustle, so usually I was scrambling to fill orders and be ready for craft fairs. Ironically, now that there are no crafts fairs to be had, I'm over stocked and ready way ahead of schedule! BUT, on the other hand I'm getting a lot more online orders, so I really can't complain and I'm extremely grateful.
What's something you've been working on your excited about?
Currently my studio is in the basement of my house. It's too small and doesn't work well as a showroom or for visitors. We (me, my husband, & Architects) are currently designing a redo/addition to our garage that will be my new studio & showroom. I'll have almost 3 times the space and it will function better as space where people can visit, shop, and tour the studio.
What's something one might not know about you?
I'm originally from New Jersey (and definitely proud of it).
Where do you find inspiration?
I'm really focused on minimalism and the importance of owning quality things that you love. I struggle a lot with the fact that I make things for people to buy & own, yet i'm an advocate of the minimalist lifestyle. Because of that, I try to produce quality pieces that fill a utilitarian need. I'm reading a book right now called "The Beauty of Everyday Things". It's a collection of essays by Yanagi Sōetsu. He believes that "objects are our constant companions in life" and that "they should be made with care and built to last, treated with respect and even affection." This idea really resonates with me.
What character trait of yours do you think has been the most responsible for your success so far?
I'm really determined and I truly believe that if you set your mind to it, you can make it happen. I'm also a serious planner and I've found that successfully making pottery is half having a good plan and half executing that plan.
"In a world of excess, we hope to inspire you to choose your possessions wisely and to love what you own."
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The Architect’s Wife is focused on sharing togetherness, inspired spaces, and warmth in any capacity we can generate it. Here we shine a light on craftspeople and the creativity they contribute to our community.
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