ARTIST INTERVIEW: Mia Herron Kantor of PAX Ceramics

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Founded by Mia Herron Kantor in 2014, PAX comes from a lifelong love of ceramics and exceptional design. Manufactured in Los Angeles by a talented team of craftsmen, many third generation ceramicists, PAX goods are handmade with a locally sourced and highly durable white stoneware, as well as food-safe glazes and are made to be microwave and dishwasher safe. PAX was inspired by a love for the look and feel of handmade things, where there’s a depth and tactile quality that’s absent with mass-produced goods. We spoke with Mia about inspiration and California.

 

What is your background and how have your past experiences fed into your art? 
I’ve always loved modern architecture, and even applied to SCI-Arc at one point but then decided that becoming an architect was not for me.  I think my love of clean lines and simple shapes really informed the design of PAX.  I was first introduced to ceramics as a teenager.  We had a great studio at my high school. I even got to experiment with firing Raku pieces.  After college, it didn’t occur to me that I could design ceramics for a living.  So I spent my 20s working in marketing and communications for agencies, start-ups, and then ultimately consulting for brands that I love, like KCRW.  But after becoming a new mother, it suddenly became very clear that I ought to pursue an area that I’m really passionate about — something that offers lifelong learning, that’s really important to me.

 

Do you feel that your environment feeds into work and if so, what makes your work distinctively Californian? 
Absolutely.  One of the biggest inspirations for me when it comes to the glazes is the sky.  It sounds cheesy, but we have the most amazing sunsets here, particularly in the winter.  The gradient colors are meant to be evocative of the golden hour between night and day.  I even have an app that schedules the golden and blue hours in my calendar.  We live in Venice near the beach, so whenever I can, I go down to the water to watch the sunrises and sunsets.  Additionally, California has a pretty incredible history in pottery.  There were hundreds of potteries in operation between the 1930s and 60s, but unfortunately almost all of them are gone due to mass-production abroad.  We’re working with a team of craftsmen in downtown LA to produce our line, many of them third generation ceramicists.  We’re just starting out, but our intention is to build a business that can further support and preserve the heritage of handmade pottery in California.

 

What are your top 3 studio essentials? 
I’m all about the basics.  Natural light is very important.  When I was working at KCRW, we were in the basement with no natural light and it definitely affects your mood and productivity level.  (But somehow KCRW continues to produce the best radio programming in the country, in my highly biased opinion.)

Hydration is also key.  Too often, I realize that I haven’t had any water for hours, so trying to avoid that by always keeping a large bottle nearby.

Good people.  Our studio is situated in a co-working space called Number Five in Venice, and it’s great – and often inspiring – to be around other people who are doing cool stuff. 

 

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