Hiding around the corner from Plaça de Sant Pere in El Born is a beautiful new studio space - Espai Alfar. Laia Amigó and Anas Rifi-Zinati have created a ceramic oasis where they create work independently and collaboratively. You may recognise our friend, Laia from the Fall/Winter Can Pep Rey collection where she models some of our garments. On a sunny afternoon we visited her new studio space and spoke about inspiration, collaboration and working in Barcelona. Espai Alfar has shared their Studio Playlist with us to enjoy on a cold Winter’s day.
How has Barcelona influenced your creative work?
I’m originally from Granada and then I came to Barcelona to study Product Design. I also lived in Bilbao for a couple of years. What I love the most about Barcelona is that there are so many creative people here, there’s always something happening and interesting people to meet. I think the community of creative people is what keeps me inspired and having the opportunity to exchange ideas.
Tell us about your new studio space, Espai Alfar?
We opened the space a little over a year now. The studio started as a shared space between me and Anas. We wanted to have our own space to create our own things, but eventually we landed up creating work together and working on private commissions. We are a small team, but it’s great because we work really well together. Right now Espai Alfar is a space with many sides and functionalities - one side is my personal projects, the other working together with Anas. I think the studio is growing with me, but we are slowly finding our place.
How do you find inspiration for each piece?
That’s a very tricky question. I don’t usually reference ceramics because you could end up creating something unoriginal without noticing. I’m trying to find a new language or space for ceramics. I studied product design, so I have always been interested in furniture. My work right now is looking at connecting art and design by creating functional sculptures. I usually start with a concept and then start researching from there. I find architectural design and interior design super interesting too, I guess I look at other forms of art for inspiration because ceramics is what I work with daily.
What have been some of the learning/challenges you have faced being an artist?
I think finishing University and feeling overwhelmed, especially because I didn't plan to be an artist. I started studying Product Design and thought I would be working in a studio designing and creating products. I did a ceramics workshop and finally it clicked, this is what I really enjoyed doing. Combining my background in product design with ceramic techniques is what I enjoy doing, finding the middle ground is what I find interesting. My challenge right now is finding my audience, as well as trying to live from what I create. I think creating a space outside your artistic practice where you can work and earn some money is a good way to take the pressure away from creating to live. This can be very frustrating. Try to find a group of people that you can discuss ideas with, I have people around me who help me a lot, we are all creatives faced with similar challenges. It’s important to have a community to surround yourself with. Right now I am teaching techniques at Escola Massana, which is balanced with my studio time.
How is your studio space different from your home space?
This is very dirty! I live in my grandparents apartment in Barcelona, with my sister. I guess it feels less like my home space, I didn't want to change or touch anything because the home was created for them. I have finally been changing things around to feel more like my own. The studio has become like my home, its still changing a lot but it feels like my own space, except I don’t sleep here.
You recently modelled for the Can Pep Rey Fall/Winter collection. How did it feel to be in front of the camera, away from your studio space and role as an artist?
It’s very much out of my comfort zone. I don’t really like to be photographed. The camera feels a bit intimidating to me, but this is a challenge I need to face as an artist. It’s important to show yourself and not just your work nowadays, people are more interested in the person and so is the Instagram algorithm. In the end I felt comfortable in the clothing and actually enjoyed the experience a lot.