Meet the Japanese-inspired ceramicist behind our latest series of serene city prints.
The work of Kjellberg has been capturing our hearts for some time now - a love that began at first sight of her endearing "clay gang" creatures. If you’ve not yet met them, Marzia makes pottery pets - complete with button noses and speckled glazes - that double as household objects like plant pots and loveable egg bowls (our personal favourites). The Italian designer has been sculpting these whimsical ceramics since 2018. Although, her dizzying array of talents don’t end at the kiln. Marzia's is a practice that stretches from jeweller to fashion designer to illustrator - and it’s her illustrations that have had us daydreaming of distant locations this lockdown.
Mainly conceived from her studio in Brighton, Kjellberg’s illustrations are split between “cute colour block drawings of characters and pets,” and “intricate, textured illustrations of real-life scenery,” the artist explains. For the latter, Marzia says she always begins the process by creating an accurate recreation of a location first before deepening things with ephemeral, “dreamy details.” In the past, these illustrations have included vintage Japanese cityscapes that hold the power to distract, inspire, and transport even the most concentrated IG scroller.
“I often find drawings to be my way to disconnect from everyday life," Kjellberg explained to us, "they're my way of tuning into a specific feel or mood." Undoubtedly, Marzia has a knack for capturing a certain atmosphere through her scenes - and her latest trio of prints, made with Evermade, is no different. This time around, Marzia is distilling the mood of three distinct destinations from around the globe: Okinawa, Geneva, and Morocco.
The first print in the series - titled Toire, Okinawa - evokes beach-side serenity through humble erections: decking chairs, beachgrass, and a sea-blue public toilet with peach roofing. Whereas, Hayit, Morocco, captures the hot air and terracotta textures of its namesake. Tying the triptych together is a vision of the Jardin Botanique in Geneva - a design filled with cacti and glass-panel reflections.
While these three sites are geographically separate, here they share common ground through airy colours, playful brushstrokes - and the quiet sense of sentimentality they invoke. A nostalgia which makes sense considering Marzia based her designs on her own travel photography. In fact, looking at the range feels like perusing old postcards or flicking through a forgotten holiday album - albeit one swimming with colour. In a period where holidays are few and far between, Kjellberg is opening a window into three specific places, memories, and moments in time. We’re grateful to be invited in.
Marzia's globetrotting new illustrations are now available for purchase exclusively from Evermade below. In light of the release, we caught up with Marzia and talked travelling, lockdown routines, and the joys of Animal Crossing.
What three words describe your design aesthetic?
Dreamy, Colourful, Fun
What is the concept behind your new print range with Evermade?
I wanted to capture the beauty of quiet, still places I have visited. They are based on photos I have taken in three different countries, and all three images are infused with beautiful, saturated colours. Since traveling abroad doesn’t seem to be an option this summer, I wanted to be able to look at my illustrations and bring back memories of past travels and share a feeling of tranquility.
Toire, Okinawa by Marzia
Your new trio of prints really captures the feeling of three distinct destinations. What is your connection to each of these places?
Toire is based on a photo I took of a public toilet in Mibaru Beach, Okinawa. The day I visited, just before summertime, there were almost no other people there, which struck me as unusual due to the absolutely stunning scenery the place had to offer. The bathroom was such a colourful building, all on its own, right by the entrance of the beach, and even though it serves such a humble purpose, I found it so pleasing to look at. A bright light blue shade, just like the ocean, left to itself, with a couple of stacked chairs to the side, and nobody but me passing by.
On the other hand, the story in Morocco was the opposite: tight roads leading me around town like a maze full of people, spices, scooters, and stray cats. Yet, when you look up, over those terracotta painted walls, the sky is always a rich blue, and nature finds a way to cohabit the busy streets of Marrakesh.
To complete the series, Jardin Botanique showcases the most amount of nature - but indoors - contained in the perfect bubble that the conservatory of Ville de Genève is, with its multitude of plants and absolute stillness. It was a cold and rainy day when I stepped inside, but I completely forgot about the gloomy weather as I was blown away by the colours and stunning setting. Any time I look at each one of these illustrations, I am instantly brought back to those places; they allow me to daydream of places that are so distant, yet so clear in my head.
Hayit, Morocco by Marzia
Travel seems an important part of your life. Where in the world do you feel most inspired?
Travel has been a big part of my life for as far as I can remember. From camping around Europe with my family every summer growing up, to then pursuing a degree in Tourism and experiencing new adventures, the joy of discovering a new place has never left me. Although I can honestly say each destination I am lucky enough to visit gives me plenty of inspiration, the one place in the world that I love the most, and that inspired me far more than any other, is undoubtedly Japan. When I am there, everything I look at fascinates me, and so I feel compelled to immerse myself in the culture, and I am inspired to create pieces that reflect the aspects I love the most.
Could you walk us through your process for creating a new design?
When it comes to illustrations, I go from more minimal and cute colour block drawings of pets or characters to more intricate and textured illustrations of real-life scenery. The latter requires a lot more attention to detail, and accuracy, as well as time. I often find drawings to be my way to disconnect from everyday life and tune into a specific feel, or mood. Just like a book would let you immerse in another story, or someone else’s life, for a few hours of your day, drawing feeds my imagination. So I like to select a picture that particularly speaks to me; oftentimes it would be one I have personally taken, although I have a fascination with old photos and select them for my drawings too. Once I pick my subject, I try my best to recreate it as accurately as possible. When I feel good about my base, I let my imagination take over and add lots of dreamy details and colours to really bring my own illustration to life, and further express the feeling I was trying to channel.
Jardin Botanique, Geneva by Marzia
Do you have a go-to playlist when drawing?
How have you managed to stay focused and productive during the lockdown? Do you have a routine to keep all your ventures in check?
The first few weeks of lockdown were a bit challenging, as I was ready to move to Japan and so I had sold all my supplies and equipment just a few weeks before. Once I realised I wouldn’t be able to move, I felt completely stuck, not having space nor the tools to work. However, working from home is something I have done for years, and once I got past my limitations, I figured out the sort of work I could focus on during this time: drawing and painting didn’t require as much space and helped me cope with having to be indoors.
In order to maintain productivity, I have a routine I like to follow every single day; I wake up early and I go ahead and set up timers to structure my day, these are very helpful as they remove any distraction for me and allow me to fully focus on one thing at a time. I have certain things I don’t allow myself to skip on, like studying Japanese an hour each day, and I set aside 30 minutes to work out in the morning; whilst the afternoon is dedicated to working on current projects. I also keep a bullet journal, so I can tick off each thing I have written down; and as silly as it may sound, being able to cross over a task motivates me to keep going. It’s all about finding your personal balance and having good rhythm, allowing yourself to take breaks when needed, and spend some quality time playing Animal Crossing - of course.
As an inspiration and role model yourself, who do you turn to for inspiration?
When I was younger, I could definitely pinpoint people that inspired me; however, as I got older, I started seeing traits that I admire from all sorts of people. Of course, there are a lot of artists I feel very inspired by, Pey Chi, Lorien Stern, Becky Sloan (to name just a few) - or even companies - such as Studio Arhoj and Lazy Oaf. But I find myself looking up to a lot of people in my life.
Discover Marzia's full series of travel-inspired prints here - now available to purchase from Evermade.
Check out more of Marzia's work on Instagram here!
All images courtesy of Marzia Kjellberg.