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The Northern Rivers Ceramicist Crafting Vessels With A Soft Edge

Studio Visit

When artist and designer Layla Cluer first started her clay practice Softedge, she was creating pieces in a makeshift studio erected in her backyard. Now she creates her fluid, rotund vessels from a permanent workshop in her friend’s farmyard a few minutes from Byron. It’s here, surrounded by fruit trees and the lingering aromas of agriculture, that she has discovered the connection to nature so vital to her creative process.

14th September, 2020

Layla in her studio. She wears Articles of Clothing workwear. Photo – Marlee Pasinetti. Art Direction + Styling – Linnea Gröndahl.

Photo – Layla Cluer.

Layla wears Articles of Clothing workwear. Photo – Marlee Pasinetti. Art Direction + Styling – Linnea Gröndahl.

Photo – Layla Cluer.

Photo – Layla Cluer.

Layla wears Articles of Clothing workwear. Photo – Marlee Pasinetti. Art Direction + Styling – Linnea Gröndahl.

Photo – Layla Cluer.

Photo – Layla Cluer.

Photo – Layla Cluer.

Layla wears Articles of Clothing workwear. Photo – Marlee Pasinetti. Art Direction + Styling – Linnea Gröndahl.

Photo – Marlee Pasinetti. Art Direction + Styling – Linnea Gröndahl.

Photo – Layla Cluer.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 14th September 2020

‘I try to make pieces that are both light enough and robust enough to be used every day, but in a form that invites you to consider their usefulness.’ – Layla Cluer

Artist and designer Layla Cluer spent all of high school thinking she would be a doctor. She backflipped at the last second and wound up studying architecture. After finishing her initial degree and spending a few years working in practices such as Nest and MRTN led to some inevitable professional soul-searching for the creative, Layla arrived at the decision to apply to art school.

‘In true millennial style, I’ve worn a few hats this past decade,’ she laughs. Last year, Layla left her full-time job working as part of RMIT Design Hub’s curatorial team, spent a month crewing on a yacht from New Zealand to Tonga (as you do!), and enrolled in ceramics classes at Lismore TAFE. This windy route to handcrafted clay was the beginnings of Softedge, her fledgling practice which she now runs from a studio on her friend’s farm outside Byron Bay. ‘It wasn’t really a studio when I moved in last November… but I could see it had great potential’, Layla reflects. Bit by bit she has been painting walls and finding equipment, and now it’s starting to feel more like the workshop she envisioned!

Layla’s process is predominantly intuitive, running with her flashes of inspiration as soon as they arrive to keep momentum. The initial moulds for these pieces can sometimes take a week or a month to cast, but means that the final result is a suite of complicated, original forms. ‘It generally takes a month or two between designing a form and seeing the first prototype coming out of the kiln finished. I’m learning patience…’ she says.

The ceramics of Softedge are intended to be both functional and sculptural. ‘I try to make pieces that are both light enough and robust enough to be used every day, but in a form that invites you to consider their usefulness.’ Her deliciously pot-bellied jugs and curvaceous cups could just as easily be an art piece to admire as they could be used as everyday vessels!

Layla intends to keep her style ambiguous so she can constantly slip between forms without feeling bound to one particular type of expression. ‘I think of Softedge as an evolving project about everyday objects and the blurry boundaries and spongy edges of their disciplines,’ she says. ‘For now, it takes form in a collection of slip cast tableware. But I have a few collaborations in the pipeline that will take on other forms.’

What’s next for this multi-faceted creative? Layla is currently collaborating with Annie Wu of Articles of Clothing on a new line of artisan uniforms and workwear. The pair are even cooking up some table goods. Sign us up!

Shop  Layla’s Softedge ceramics here!

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.