Meet Alex, the visionary behind Studio Daffa, your haven for bespoke handcrafted homewares. Alex's love for ceramics, architecture and interiors came to life in early 2022 when her dream of Daffa became a reality. With a shared appreciation for artistry and love of good coffee, it only made sense to sit down for a chat and get a glimpse into the world that is Daffa.
On top of an exclusive 15 minutes with Alex, we've been fortunate to have two custom Coffee Supreme-inspired mugs crafted by Daffa, which are up for grabs over on our Instagram. Grab your favourite coffee, settle in and enjoy this insightful conversation with Alex for all things Studio Daffa.
Q: Hey Alex, can you tell us a bit about Studio Daffa? What was the inspiration? How long have you been a ceramicist? Give us the full rundown.
A: Hello! Studio Daffa is a mini-marketplace of bespoke handcrafted homewares, art and gifts. I launched DAFFA a year ago now. I had only been doing ceramics part-time for almost a year before that. Growing up I used to do pottery classes with my parents and then again as an adult. So it's always been something I’ve lightly dabbled with. But for the last two years, I can’t go a few days without spending time in the studio playing.
The inspiration came from upcycling random pieces for my house and so naturally I daydreamed about other objects I wish I could make, wondered if it was possible to design my own products then eventually was led back to ceramics, they were the perfect next step because it didn't require me to find a manufacturer or buy something in bulk. I could play around with product design, come up with the most random ideas and make it happen. Quantities are low ‘n’ slow and I wouldn't have it any other way at this stage.
Q: Could you walk us through your creative process, from concept to the final product?
A: Sure! I will always start with some scribbles in my note pad then I'll likely make some templates (I always do this in case I come back for a re-build). I also try to take down some project notes, there are so many variables in ceramics I find it a bit chaotic sometimes. Then we build, roll and shape. I work the clay into whatever form I need it to be before letting it dry for about a week. Now we hit the notepad again for some glazing plans!
Next, I apply some underglaze, the gorgeous colour, then it goes into the kiln for a firing and another firing after a clear shiny coat has been applied. After that it’s ready! There are a few extra steps but you get the idea. While I wait for things to be fired I generally start thinking about the photos and scenes I’ll make for my products. I’ll spend some time mood-boarding, sourcing food or props and then I'll set up a little world and take some photos. The photos are one of my favourite parts of the process.
Q: Are there any particular artists or designers who have influenced your work?
A: So many! I think about Ken Done and Gaetano Pesce a lot... Their works light me up. So playful and just wonderful. They’ve also had such a broad range of opportunities in their careers that I look up to.
Q: This might be like asking a parent if they have a favourite child, but what’s been you’re favourite piece you’ve made to date, and why?
A: You’re right it's tricky, however, It’s gotta be the clocks - more specifically the spag bol clock or a cheese plate clock I just made. I love how silly they are, the options are kind of endless in category thats not too crowded. + They also look awesome on the wall and take up minimal space.
Q: Could you describe the significance of handmade and handcrafted items in today's world of mass-produced products?
A: Shopping local and supporting your favourite artists is always going to be important. Artists make the world bloody awesome and we need to support them. Buying mass-produced products can be unsustainable and really sad considering they’ve likely ripped off other designers to make them. You’re more likely to treasure an item for years to come from an artisan vs. a cheap dupe that ends up in the trash. But I totally understand it’s hard times right now. On the other hand for the maker, if you're lucky enough to be able to share your creative practice and do it for work then that creates a sense of community plus you’re making something that lights you up, sharing that with others and it's a nice little circular moment of joy.
Q: How do you stay inspired and motivated, especially during times when challenges arise?
A: In ceramics if something breaks or goes wrong I’ve learnt to immediately let it go, if I can’t figure out what happened then I ask someone who does or google it. Learning from our mistakes is what makes us learn faster and asking for help or having to try something again and again can be hard but it's important to keep at it. It took me many years to hone my motivation to sit in line with my values. I’ve always got mini goals I’ve set for myself that I'm trying to reach and always look to my own version of success rather than others.
Q: What do you get up to when you’re not creating bespoke handcrafted homewares?
A: I spend a good chunk of my weeks working as a graphic designer in-house. But if we look at this last week I spent many many hours listening to Troye Sivan’s album, ate some awesome home-cooked dinners, rewatched many episodes of The Office and got a nice book in the mail. My favourite weeks are when I get to spend time with family and friends though.
Q: What’s your coffee setup at home?
A: Currently, a stovetop percolator my Dad gifted me. It reminds me of the family home every time I get it going, which is pretty spesh. (however side note: I have got my eyes on a Moccamaster - but picking a colour? Don’t even get me started)
Q: And, your favourite Supreme coffee?
A: It has got to be the Supreme Blend. But to be honest, serve me any blend and I am so happy.
Q: Smooth or crunchy?
A: Smooth. But I will not be saying no thank you to crunchy. It's like pulp in juice for me I’d rather not, but I will totally enjoy every sip regardless.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to aspiring artists looking to turn their passion into a business?
A: I think it would be to find inspiration in other areas, don’t go looking and comparing to people in the same field as you. If you can find inspiration from a rock climber and you’re a glass artist then how epic is that? Listen to rules but make your own and then break them of course. The best thing to do is find out what you want to spend your time on this planet doing, hone in on your values and make things that make you happy first.
Q: What’s on the cards for Studio Daffa next? Do you have any exciting projects you’re working on?
A: I am feeling good about 2024 - definitely some cool things bubbling away! I have some new stockists coming up, and hoping to do some real-life events like markets and a collaboration with my incredible mother who is an artist. But mainly I just want to keep making really fun items and shooting some content I'm proud of.
Q: Alex, we love the Supreme-inspired mugs you created, thank you! For those who are fans of your work, where can they find and purchase other Studio Daffa items? And, how often do you release new pieces?
A: Thank you! I had so much fun making them! The best place to shop is my website (www.studiodaffa.com). I’ve got a big drop coming in late November which I’m excited about. Instagram will be the first to know about everything though so obviously hang out there.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share that we haven’t spoken about?
A: Just a thank you! I wouldn’t be anywhere without coffee so this is a really nice moment. Thanks for talking with me.
Head to our latest Instagram post to enter our giveaway with Studio Daffa.