Hohnschönhausen. Die ehemalige Zentrale für die Herstellung von Überwachungstechnik beherbergt heute die Studio-ID. Ein Komplex mit Studios, Ateliers und Werkstätten. Im Gang des zweiten Stocks riecht es nach Ölfarben. Uns öffnet Maia Beyrouti die Tür zu ihrem eigenem kleinen Universum des Moïo Studios, lichtdurchflutet und mit viel Grün darin.
Where did you learn to work with ceramics?
Did you had a teacher?
At school in the 4th grade (I was about nine) I remember making a clay mold of the eye of Michelangelo’s David, it felt like quite a process and I remember this strong sense of achievement. Our art teacher, Ms Therias, was a ceramicist, I think that's why we got to do these somewhat complex and technical clay projects, although I also remember doing linocuts and etchings - she was a formidable teacher. There is a big ceramics culture in the South of France, so growing up there meant always being in contact with ceramic art and living surrounded by terracotta, now I realise it permeated my being. Later, at university, I chose ceramics as an extra course during my Bachelors, just for fun. A little while later again I took an evening course at the Villa Thiole in Nice for a year, I had a wonderful teacher there. Other than that, I learned via trial and error, watching videos, reading books, there are some useful resources on the internet - I enjoy learning like that, making mistakes also means making discoveries in between, but that’s inevitable with ceramics I think! Ceramics is also a very good teacher itself… so many things can go wrong. You learn to let go and go slow.
When did your love affaire with ceramic started?
It has been growing silently for years. In 2015 I was tired of working on the computer all day and I was looking for something that would be fulfilling, and that would also involve values and practices I want to encourage - sustainability, avoiding mass production, working offline, creating collaborations with others. Then one day I woke up and it was this obvious thing that had been there the entire time - it was clay.
Why did you choose Berlin for your studio?
And how did you found your beautiful space here in Hohenschönhausen.
I came to Berlin in 2009 much before I started the studio, as it was a place where I could afford to buy my own time and be able to work on my art projects.
Earlier this year I met someone who took me to his studio at Studios ID and I enquired about a studio there - a week after that I put the word out on Instagram that I was looking for a studio and plenty of interesting people got in touch. Even though I ended up going for the one at Studios ID, I made some new friends and met some collaborators along the way. The Instagram community of object designers, interior designers and ceramicists is very alive and open.
As we noticed, you are always looking for collaborations with other makers and artists. What has been your favorite projects in the last time?
Collaborations at the heart of the studio. I like to develop objects for a specific context, doing it with others gives it an extra dimension, but also allows the idea to be a communal one - I don’t like copyrights, or owning ideas. I want input, be it planters for a plant shop, tiles for an interior design concept, objects as an art installation, musical instruments, light fixtures, tableware for a restaurant - I have so many ideas, and the people, the collaborations, are a part of the creative puzzle. What's more, it gives me a direct feedback loop, which is vital. My favourite project so far this year was with The Botanical Room. We tried a collection of planters and it sold out in three weeks, so now we are making a larger run and we’ll see how that goes.
You are experimenting a lot.
What is your favorite project at the moment?
Experimenting allows me to go into a lot of different directions that can be used when the time comes, or spark an idea. But honestly - I can’t help it. I gently encourage myself not to get lost there, and to apply it somehow. At the moment I’m making some tiles.
Where do you get your inspirations from?
From architecture, with its shadows and details and ergonomics and floorplans - so many scales to play with. That, and the memory of objects from my childhood, those two probably inspire me the most. In every city I visit, I make it a point to go to the botanical gardens, plants have endless ideas about how to be a plant, how to be a plant differently, and I observe these adaptations. I also look at old objects, I spent a lot of time in museums during my conservation studies, and ceramics is rooted in such an ancient tradition - it’s a nice way to connect with past makers, and, for example, use a style for a handle that I’ve seen from 9th C Persia.
I also look at rocks, literature, other ceramicists and artists on a weekly basis - it all forms a library in my head. And of course, I get a lot of inspiration from simply testing.
What´s coming next?
Did you have some nice project in your mind or in progress?
There are a few collaborations currently in the works, I’m happy about where the studio is heading. I’m particularly excited about the tiles at the moment, I’m developing some faceted and textured tiles and want to make a wall or a bar or some larger interior/exterior feature. If anyone wants to collaborate on that, do, please, get in touch and let's make it happen.