Tuesday, 17 July 2007


Ulrika Jarl

Describe your work?

I create lighting and functional homewares using bone china for it’s white and translucent properties. The play between shadow and light informs my work. I derive inspiration from structures of nature. I aim to highlight beauty and purpose in natural forms to enhance our interaction with the objects around us.

1 Money spent on food is never wasted

2 Favourite historical maker (and why?)

There are many of the historical Scandinavian designer/makers that I love. However, Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala is a bit of a legend. He was incredibly versatile working in glass, metal, wood, ceramics, lighting, jewellery, furniture etc. He abstracted the essence of forms in nature. His work is timeless and could have been made today. I especially like that he worked on everything from everyday pieces to the highly exclusive, often blurring the boundaries between art, craft and design. The design world could do with more people like that. He also looked incredibly cool, like Father Christmas smoking a pipe.

3 When and where did you first want to do what you do?

I have always wanted to do something creative and have been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pen. It took me ages to work out what I wanted to do, trying a range of things from photography to graphics. It was probably the second year of my degree I decided that I wanted to work with lighting. I love it now, but I hope it will evolve and that I will be doing something different in 10 years time.

4 What place in the world has inspired you (and why?)

Going back home to Sweden always inspires me. I find that nature there especially in the summer feeds a lot of my ideas. I look at repetition of forms in nature and derive ideas from this endless source of inspiration.

5 What was the last art/craft/design thing you purchased? or What one product/item do you really covet? (and why?)

I bought a charcoal-black ‘Amoeba dish’ from Dominic Bromley of Scabetti at last years East London Design Show. I love his work and his new bone china ‘Cibola pendant light’ is stunning.

6 How do you set about starting a new project?

It depends. I come across something of interest and start researching it perhaps finding out more on the Internet. I might do some sketches, however I often find that the process of emanation (one thing emerging from another) whilst working in my studio is the best way of coming up with the most interesting work. I often work with repetition of form, and starting on one piece can often lead to other work, as is the case with my bone china wall light leading to one of my latest pieces ‘Stardish’.

7 Where and what is your studio? Do you work alone? In silence, radio?

I am in a studio In New England House in Brighton. I share the studio with seven other ceramicists. However, most of us are part-time, so we are not all in at the same time. It is usually Radio 4 for culture or BBC 7 for drama on our radio. As some of the makers in the studio have an addiction to the Archers I seldom miss an episode, however I still don’t know the characters.

8 Do you have a good work/life balance? Are you able to switch off from art work?

I never really switch off as I always keep looking at the things around me, finding inspiration in a number of different things. If I am in the middle of developing a new light I am often quite excited about it and find it hard to switch off until I have the prototype finished. However, I am getting better at switching off as it is really important to have a break and sit back. It is hard to look at your work objectively if you are constantly absorbed in it.

9 What one word would describe your feeling of doing your work?


10 Are their other (unusual) fields that you'd like to apply some facet of your work into?
Making huge striking site-specific lighting pieces for large entrance halls or similar spaces.

11 Can anything be 'art'?

Yes, I think that as long as it is considered and has an intelligent thought behind it.

Ulrika Jarl lighting & homewares was launched in 2004 and the lighting products are made mainly from bone china clay and slip, she also uses various types of plastics creating similar translucent qualities. The Romanésco pendant light is one of Ulrika’s most unusual and successful piece and has since the launch been exhibited in various places around the world culminating at the Design Museum in last years Design Mart exhibition. The light has had continued success being picked up by furniture retailer Habitat, where it was launched last year.

She explores her love of natural forms and structures throughout her work as a designer-maker, which she was able to explore through her studies of three-dimensional crafts at the University of Brighton, where she now works. Her work has taken a further facet in the form of commissions and one-off pieces where the location of the piece and where it will be displayed is central to the design.

Ulrika is currently working on a new collection of lighting and homewares that will be launched later on this year at Top Drawer Autumn and later at Brighton Craft Fair. The lights are bone china and the functional dishes are earthenware.

“The light element transforms my lights into sculptural object and the shadows cast are as important as the light”

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