MONDAYS Ceramics were the pieces I couldn't get out of my head. It seemed every beautiful ceramics store I walked into my favorite piece would be MONDAYS. We started to see them in restaurants too--I'd flip over a particularly attractive plate and, lo and behold, the name stamped on the bottom would be.... you guessed it. Finally, after realizing the plates at my favorite neighborhood restaurant were by them too I thought, I have to write them! It turned out, their studios weren't far from where we lived. They generously invited Alex and I to come by for a studio visit, and a friendship and mutual fandom was born!
Since we met Nina and Jennifer, we've felt lucky to call them friends. They've become a core part of our design community in Brooklyn, and I have happily accumulated a collection of MONDAYS ceramics of my own! Read the interview below to learn more about Jennifer and Nina, their beautiful ceramics line, and their approaches to style.
-- Jennifer Fiore and Nina Lalli
-- Ceramicists and co-founders of MONDAYS Ceramics.
-- Manhattan and Brooklyn
Currently listening to:
-- Jennifer: Nina and i are both obsessed with NPR--it's always on in the background at the studio. If we switch to music it's generally the Talking Heads station on Spotify. At home, my nine-year old son has become our resident DJ--he's currently on a David Bowie and XTC jag, and it's been so much fun for us to watch him have his mind blown by this music. He is currently fully-absorbed with parsing the lyrics to Bowie's Space Oddity, and this obsession with Bowie makes me feel like he's got a good guide for his imminent teen years.
-- Nina: I'm such a nerd. The studio is WNYC/NPR all day until it starts repeating and I turn on a podcast like The Slate Political Gabfest, The Daily, or Bon Appetit's Foodcast to hear my sister's episodes (she is the food director there and hilarious). When I get home my husband is blasting current hip hop or some vintage record that I don't recognize and he will compromise with Paul Simon or A Tribe Called Quest.
What's your style like?
-- Jennifer: Vintage Levis and Adidas Gazelles forever. I love beautiful clothing, but feel uncomfortable when things match too perfectly or are too precise. In the summer i live in my Blluemade dresses; they are easy and chic and transition perfectly from home to studio to camp pick-up. They are so beautifully constructed that they distract from the fact that i often have clumps of clay somewhere on my person.
-- Nina: I love vintage clothing and extreme comfort. I hate feeling constricted by straps and waistbands so summer is my favorite. I wear a lot of sack dresses, shapeless jumpsuits, and overalls. Not big on underwear. A worn-in men's shirt or jacket my favorite kind of layer, some structure but soft to the touch. That's what Blluemade feels like! Something that lasts forever and has that classic, practical kind of cut that hangs so naturally and flatteringly. I hate matching and always have since early childhood. I lust after expensive things sometimes but I barely shop anywhere aside from flea markets, Etsy, and Goodwills on road trips. The thrill of the deal and the find is more fun to me than the idea of just buying exactly what I expect to wear.
How did you get into your line of work? What excites you about it?
-- Jennifer: I took my first ceramics class when my son was 2 years old--i was missing having a studio practice, but didn't want to go back to a medium i had once been "good at." I didn't want any pressure to succeed--i really just wanted to get my hands dirty again. I thought I'd take that one eight-week class and be done, but i kept re-registering and finally had to recognize my escape had become an obsession.
-- Nina: I loved ceramics in high school, especially sculpture. I used to stay up late making busts and figures with self-hardening clay on a cutting board on my bedroom floor. Then during college I dropped all my artistic hobbies because I felt like I had to choose and it was time for Academia. I was at a small liberal arts school where it wasn't easy to casually take art classes as a non-art major. A decade later or so, my job was assisting a prop stylist, Amy Wilson, who does a lot of food photography. So I was suddenly looking at tons of ceramics--antique and vintage stuff as well as fine china and handmade current work. I was drawn to all kinds of styles and wanted things in my life that weren't just basic and mass-produced, so I asked my family for a ceramics class as my 30th birthday present. I thought, I'll make myself a set or plates, even if they are the simplest, crudest things in the world, they will be something special. I still haven't made a matching set for myself, but I met Jennifer taking those classes and discovered the joy for me was more in the making than the having.
What do you look for in clothing and how does it factor into your day?
-- Jennifer: The older i get, the simpler my wardrobe becomes and the less i buy, though i still occasionally splurge on something special and unique. It has become increasingly important to me to support smaller brands, like yours, that are sustainably produced, and socially engaged. I have a completely different understanding of retail since Nina and I launched MONDAYS, and I know how hard it is to keep a small business afloat, while staying true to one's principles. As much as possible I want to support the businesses that reflect my own values.
-- Nina: My clothes have to be comfortable and natural—breathable materials. They have to washable because they will get dirty. But I also want to have fun with them, despite how practical they have to be. I love clashing colors, childish shapes, patterns that remind me of my 80s childhood.
What's your go-to outfit?
-- Black jeans, a men's shirt, a trenchcoat.
What's your next trip?
-- Jennifer: I will go upstate to visit a friend for a long weekend at the end of the month, but the next big trip I have planned is a visit to Austin, Texas for Thanksgiving. My siblings and I are taking my parents for their 70th and 75th birthdays. There are four of us scattered around the country and it's rare that we are all in the same place at the same time, but now that most of us have kids we've been making more of an effort to get them together more regularly. I've never been to Austin, and am looking forward to exploring the city.
-- Nina: I got married a couple of months ago and went to Maine for a honeymood/babymoon, the calm before the storm of becoming a mother. I laid in a floaty thing on a big quiet lake in between ice cream cones and lobster rolls, and for the next few months I'll try to go back there in my mind while I learn how to breastfeed and never sleep. Then in February, my husband and I bring our baby to Tucson, where he is from. His mother planned a baby party THE DAY we told her I was pregnant. I love Tucson and his family. As a lifelong New Yorker, it's an amazingly exotic landscape, the food is incredible, and the pace is a very-appreciated change.
Nina and Jennifer are wearing Blluemade throughout. Featured items: the French pullover in shell, indigo long-sleeved button up, cuffed camp shorts in olive, French dress in poppy, Hawaiian shirt in sky blue, and the jacket-shirt in leaf. All items are 100% Belgian linen and are created in NYC.