CIRCLE Conversations with Jan Ernst de Wet


                                Lanza Sweater in Beige
                                @jan_ernst_

Please tell us about your brand and how it first started?

I am a multidisciplinary creative specializing in functional art and spatial design using clay as the main medium. My work is driven by my fascination with natural structures such as corals, fungi, and rock formations.
I started working in clay 2 years ago during lockdown when I had to close my architectural practice due to COVID 19. It developed and gained momentum and before I knew it, it turned into a studio creating for galleries abroad.

You are currently residing in Bordeaux, please tell you what has brought you there?

The opportunity to do an artist residency came up a few months ago in preparation for Collectible Design Fair in Brussels. It made sense spending the summer in France to create more work. The aim of the residency is to conceptualize and install a 3m x 1.5m big wall sculpture with light. This piece will be shown at Paris Design Week in September.

Where do you tend to seek your inspiration from?

Nature is at the heart of it all. Depending on the body of work, I will seek inspiration from a landscape or particular area that fascinates me or that I feel has a connection to what I am about to create. The caves in Cederberg was a natural choice for the Womb collection as it provided me with so much conceptual inspiration and visual clues.

What do you find captivating about natural structures within your work? How does it speak to you?

There is honesty in natural structures. By investigating these you are forced to look at nature differently and I have come to understand that as humans, we could never live up to the genius of mother nature. There are many lessons to be learned from structures and forms like corals or caves - the most important is that they are not forced, they are shaped patiently over time and are as fragile as we are. 

Is there something else in particular that you plan to explore for your work?

Up until this point my work has focused solely  on nature. This has captivated the imagination of the people and press, but I believe there is room to also depict the relationship with man in an abstract way. I would like to explore topics like life, birth, decay and death.

What does the word Earth mean to you?

I work in a material that is literally of the earth, so I am inclined to respond to that. It is a way of being connected to the source that allows me to create and there is a lot of appreciation for that. It also makes me feel connected to something bigger than myself, a part of being human that I share with other living things.

Have you got a favourite ceramic piece from your collections?

Each piece is an emotive response to an idea, choosing one is really hard, because in my head they all have unique characteristics and I appreciate them for that. I would say, a piece that I am particularly proud of, is Womb Pendant Large [or as I like to call it, Mama Pendant] It was incredibly complex to create with various layers, textures and technical challenges.

Is there anything you would like to achieve that you haven’t already?

Certainly! I would love to learn and work with other designers that share and value my design philosophies. There are other materials like stone and bronze that intrigue me, but there are also exhibitions and platforms that I would love to be part of.

What do you value the most in your life?

Time. My days and schedules are full, so having free time is precious to me and I choose carefully who I spend that with. 

What’s your favourite piece from the SS22 collection by OYUNA?

The entire collection speaks to me. A piece that stands out for me is INGA UNISEX Knitted Oversize Boucle Cardigan”. Aspects that I enjoy include the dropped shoulder, the square shape and not having a collar. It’s a striking piece that speaks of comfort and elegance.

I have a few simple questions; you can reply with a word or a couple of words. If I say blue, what comes to your mind?

I have a few simple questions; you can reply with a word or a couple of words. What comes to your mind when I say the following words...'

  1. Strength? Endurance 
  2. Beauty? Nature
  3. Softness? Colin [my partner]
  4. Precious? Time

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