Cloud Terre is a line of visually s t u n n i n g tableware, each piece handmade by designer + architect Amber Kendrick. Amber has some amazing things to say, below, about the intersection of art and food, and as beautiful as Cloud Terre creations are to simply look at, they're certainly meant to have function: pieces are created in collaboration with/used in service at The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, Fiola, A Baked Joint, and an enviable list of soon-to-be-opened DC restaurants. An Indiegogo campaign is currently running to help fund new studio equipment and the expansion of this really incredible art + design project – read on for more.
"I started making things well, when I was tiny - mostly taking things apart and putting them back together in weird ways. I disassembled and reassembled MANY Barbie dolls into very odd and probably uncomfortable sculptures. There was also a Barbie pool pent house structure thing I remember working on one night when I was at my parents' office while they had to work late - I was probably 6? - and I couldn't figure it out! It must have been midnight and a group of their top engineers came out into the hallway where I was sitting very frustrated, they sat on the floor with me and I'm pretty sure they re-invented what exactly this pool on a roof top house could do. Life changing!
Tableware only came naturally because of the amazing folks I found myself surrounded by. I was incredibly lucky to get to meet insanely talented and creative chefs. Most of my inspiration comes from them. Some comes from travels, other inspiration comes from a neurotic love of philosophy. If I had been sitting at a table with professional drivers, I'd probably be trying to design cars right now. Maybe my next life ;)
Realistically, I started Cloud Terre in 2009 and began working with glass (blown, cast, kiln-worked). Always with a functional intention. Something about coming out of Architecture school and practicing for a while, it's hard to not think about an object's function! I started working with clay around the same time, but it was about a year later when I met [chef] Johnny Spero. He was telling me about a ceramic plate he saw while staging at Noma and the conversation grew and evolved to where I found myself sitting at the wheel for about a month straight, 12 hour days just throwing over and over, immersion style. With immense gratitude, my Mom had a small studio and sat with with me, teaching me everything I know and my Dad gave profound critique on everything design coming off the wheel. After about a month, I was in love with the material and couldn't walk away.
I have a masters in architecture from Catholic University. My focus was always on performance studies so my thesis looked at how we (re)define space by moving thru it and how do we represent that. My love of subtlety in details is infused into the tableware, as are performative ideas - how is the piece carried, placed down, picked up, held; how does rest on the table or while 'stored' before service. I love playing with temporal ideas like what's revealed as you eat - how does time play a role in this object? Dining out is performative - it has many acts, completely independent of where you're dining. It's about continuing to tell the narrative thru food in a tactile, visual and auditory way (yes, I even like to think about the sound a plate makes or doesn't make when it's set down on a table).
I'm currently in Arlington, VA. My studio set up is part of my home. My business partner and life partner, Ernie and I built a small building behind our home that houses our kilns and glazes. Although very exciting, we're moments from relocating to a larger production and retail space in DC."
We love that your work creates a tangible intersection between art and food. Can we get your thoughts on that idea? I love your question!! I view it as communication/language. We're all saying something, sometimes it's beautifully quiet other times more pronounced. I read, with all the senses, what a chef does (professional or home chef) with our tableware and that's when I see the piece start to breathe and become art. Some of the pics out there of our work plated - it's magical and perfectly humbling.
You create tableware for some extremely recognizable names in the food industry, locally and nationally. Can you share a little bit about what led you to their doors (or them to your door!)? And what's your advice to artists looking to collaborate with + for businesses in general? Chance followed by conversation and the exchange of ideas for the love of what you do. Advice... I would suggest a true collaboration is necessary, meaning let go of the ego and be willing to go on a very long adventure with very long weeks and very late nights. In other words, show up for what you do, show up for whom you want to collaborate with, and let go of what you think the 'right answer' is and let the relationship and your desire to create with sincerity direct the work. That's very esoteric advise. A translation may be necessary. No translation needed – love it. Thank you Amber!
all images by Farrah Skeiky, courtesy Cloud Terre