Seattle ceramicist Lauren Burman named her adorable Little Shirley vase after her grandmother. It's quite fitting, actually. It's largely due to her grandmother's early encouragement that Lauren has the confidence and drive to run a small business. Learn more of Lauren's story in her Meet the Maker survey after the jump…
Name: Lauren Burman/Material Good
Where did you grow up? Seattle, WA
Where did you study/train? I actually studied Biology at Loyola Marymount University, however fell in love with ceramics one summer in Atlanta, GA. I started working at an amazing studio, called Mudshark, and over the course of the summer taught myself how to throw by the watching the talented ceramic artist working there. I was immediately hooked, and started taking classes wherever I moved (Los Angeles, Austin, TX, and back in Seattle).
What was the first thing you made and sold? Grandma Shirley owned a flower shop when I was growing up and always encouraged us to be little entrepreneurs. With her guidance I started by designing flower arrangements at the age of 6 – she would put a price tag on them and out onto the floor they went! Jewelry was the next Lauren Burman original piece offered at Mercer Island Florist. Between the ages of 7-14 I sold beaded jewelry out of that same flower shop, Mercer Island Florist. I think this gave me the confidence to put myself out there and showed me that if you find the right customers and present it in the right way people will find value in what you do. Little Shirley vases are still sold at Mercer Island Florist, which is a really wonderful thing!
Who is your design idol? Edith Heath is my design idol. She was an American potter who started Heath Ceramics in 1948. Not only was she a rock star business woman, but she was an incredible ceramic artist. Known for classic shapes, unique color pallets, and great design, she is an inspiration both in terms of business and art.
Where do you find inspiration? Colors are where I find most inspiration. I think color can convey so much emotion, passion, memories, and more. I am continuously amazed by colors in nature; vivid pinks in a sunset, incredible greens in dewy moss, grey crackles in stone, juicy oranges in flowers, pretty incredible.
What's one thing you wish YOU had made or designed? I wish I had designed or come up with the idea for the sticky note. It is SO simple! In terms of design I get most excited about simplicity and functionality. The sticky note clearly has both of those qualities. Timeless too, everyone has thoughts that they need to jot down and not misplace. Now that I think of it, maybe I will develop a compostable sticky note, I think that is the only way it could be improved upon.
What's your advice for a designer/maker just starting out? Just do it! Its easy to get hung up on details, but you're not going to get anywhere if you don't jump in fully committed. One of my favorite pieces of advice that I was given recently is "Don't look back, you're not going that way!" Learning from the past, but thinking forward, is the key to just about anything in my mind.
Check out more of Lauren's designs and purchase your own Little Shirley vase at Material Good.
(Images: Lauren Burman)