You might not live anywhere near Lalese Stamps’s studio, but the ceramicist makes you feel like you’re right there with her. In one Instagram post, she celebrates the moment she got her first kiln. In a TikTok video, she slings a lump of clay onto her wheel and morphs it effortlessly into a cylinder—all to a Beyoncé remix.
"My work is just an extension of who I am as a person," Stamps says of her speckled stoneware mugs and her glaze-spattered plates and bowls. "I want people to feel good."
Stamps, who started creating ceramics seriously in 2017, took social media by storm last fall when she designed and fired a mug a day for 100 straight days, each with a wildly different handle.
That project, as well as a wave of support stemming from the Black Lives Matter movement, has caused Stamps’s social media following to balloon and her web store to sell out. It’s left her a bit overwhelmed (she also works full-time at a branding agency), but, says Stamps, "I know that I can have a big impact. And I’m really excited about that."
Learn why Samps has an affinity for the jungle gym, and read her other responses to our Q&A below.
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Current Location: Columbus, Ohio
Describe what you make in 140 characters. I make handmade ceramics that are functional, simple in shape, and capable of withstanding the test of time.
What's the last thing you designed? The last thing I designed was a birthday card for my friend's 13-year-old daughter.
Do you have a daily creative ritual? A large glass of water and some good tunes in the background.
How do you procrastinate? By cleaning my studio first, then leaving the studio because I feel like I did something.
What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? Not an everyday object but I would redesign the government. It ain't been working right for a long time now.
Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? My heroes are all the black activists in American history who fought against the system, successfully or unsuccessfully. It takes a lot of guts. Angela Davis in particular is a hero of mine. I also really look up to Jean Michel Basquiat. He was such a genius.
What skill would you most like to learn? Sewing. I even bought a machine, but I have yet to get into it.
What is your most treasured possession? My journals.
What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? The jungle gym. I remember being really impressed with the mechanics of them as a child. What contemporary design trend do you despise?I'm pretty over the neutrals trend.
Finish this statement: All design should...be inclusive.
What’s in your dream house? Tall windows and a lot of plants.
Did you pick up any new hobbies or learn a new skill while in quarantine? What was it? I watched every season of the Wire, does that count?
How do you think the pandemic will affect residential design in the future? What about workplace or commercial design? I think workplaces will downsize their spaces.
How can the design world be more inclusive? There are a lot of answers to this, but mostly design spaces need to acknowledge that they are more than likely perpetuating racist practices that are systemically passed down. Sometimes we really have to stop and ask: Why are we doing things the way we are doing them? Who benefits from it the most and how can we shift the ways in which we operate to serve communities that don't benefit from our design?
What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? It has more of an effect on your life than you realize.
The Dwell 24 2020
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