AN INTERVIEW WITH JULIANNE AHN
Object & Totem is a small objects and jewelry studio that has had home bases in Philadelphia and Berlin. Inspired by the nuances of artistic rituals and meditative processes such as cording and turning, each product is created with a focus on individualized production to maintain its novelty, craft and memory.
Julianne Ahn, the talented artist and designer behind Object & Totem, not only designs each piece from start to finish, she proactively sources local materials.
Where are you from? I grew up in North Wales, Pennsylvania, a large suburb outside of Philadelphia.
How long have you lived in Philadelphia? About 4 years now. I live in Fishtown with my husband and cat, Nico.
What brought you to Philadelphia? The economy, family, friends, good food and affordable living.
When did you start working with ceramics? I started learning ceramics looking to pick up a new skill and bide my time during a state of uncertainty - and clay was a perfect medium in that respect. I was a complete mess in the beginning, but eventually, it taught me patience and how to transcribe meaning into simpler forms. I love learning from unexpected variables associated with making everything by hand. Clay can be very vulnerable and to me, feels very human.
What inspires your creativity and fuels your designs? My first collection of vessels all drew from objects around the house such as doorknobs, everyday jars and a vintage abacus. I usually try and start from a place of curiosity and build from there, whether it's going to museums, flea markets, reading on slowness, or taking a familiar object I own and re-examining it in a new way. Sketching helps me organize an initial form and then when I throw on the wheel, it usually evolves into something completely different which never gets boring.
What’s next for Object & Totem? I'd like to continue building my skills in ceramics and possibly branch into fiber and wood based pieces. I've been itching to learn wood turning and inlay, however, I'm still trying to tame the clay beast, so perhaps one thing at a time.