ARTIST INTERVIEW: Linda Hsiao of Knotwork LA
Knotwork LA is the line of Linda Hsiao and Kagan Taylor. It was created as a outlet to identify the work they do in our spare time. It began as evenings and weekends spent in the shop and studio, precious pieces of wood saved from other projects or found while hiking, ideas that came to them in the middle of the night, and a desire to create beautiful, useful things. Linda is an industrial designer, ceramicist, gardener, and chef. Her desire for more beautiful kitchen tools and gifts for her nephew are the inspiration for many of Knotwork’s products. Kagan is an architect, woodworker, and teacher of design and craft. He is one half of the Highland Park design/build firm Knowhow Shop LA and an obsessive collector of tools and techniques.
What is your background and how have your past experiences fed into your art?
I was born and raised in Orange County near beautiful beaches and growing up as a farmer’s daughter always surrounded by things growing from nothing but fields and dirt. Later I ventured off and studied industrial design in Brooklyn at Pratt, fascinated with how products interact with people and how we treat objects in the home. After moving back to southern California I wanted to go back to creating objects from humble materials such as clay and wood but transforming them into objects that are intimate and precious to the user. From the hand carved wooden utensils that fit in someone’s hand, creatures that live by your desk to a baby rattle meant to be held and passed on through each generation.
Do you feel that your environment feeds into work and if so, what makes your work distinctively Californian?
Often I feel like my work responds to the natural world. From rocks found at the beach to creatures roaming around while hiking. Interested in using the natural beauty of porcelain and stoneware when left exposed, so I started experimenting with inlaying porcelain into other claybodies instead of glazing my pieces. Often the different colors of clay set into each other reminded me of sedimentary rocks, and of the beaches near where I grew up in Southern California. The process is satisfying: I start by rolling out a large slab and integrate blobs of other clays and sometimes bits of tinted porcelain, I press textures to add a layer of detail and highlight the depth of the pattern, then cut out the circles and ovals for bowls and dishes.