Over coffee, we chat with the duo behind førs about their new line of housewares, and why timeless design needs to align with shared values
A teapot is a particular thing, especially its spout. Blok Design‘s Vanessa Eckstein and Muriel Solomon, co-founders of førs studio, discovered this the hard way through trial and error as they worked to achieve the perfect pour. But time, Eckstein says, is something to be honoured alongside craftsmanship and quality, so they tried, tried, then tried again.
The result is at once meticulously designed and playful. When developing førs’ ceramic tableware, Eckstein and Solomon exercised intuition and experimented with form. Once satisfied, they rigorously modeled, 3D printed and tested each piece at every step of its journey toward becoming a finished product. Each piece is characterized by gentle curves and minimalist silhouettes; forms determined by how each interacts with other objects and feels in one’s hands. Over coffee (and, times being as they are, over Zoom), DL discussed the new line with Eckstein and Solomon, why they decided to partner up and why they’re not in the business of just putting more objects out into the world.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Designlines: Tell me about how your partnership started?
Muriel Solomon: Vanessa and I have been friends for five or six years. There was an instant connection and I think it came from our roots, her coming from Argentina, me coming from France. And both of us coming to Canada in search for the connection that we had in our home countries. I think we connected on a lot of levels. And dancing! We both love it.
Vanessa Eckstein: Croissants as well. You can add that to the list!
Muriel Solomon: And good coffee, and long conversation. So we connected on a personal level. I came from roles in big corporate and was looking to make a change, but needed something I was truly passionate about. So in 2018 I went to Copenhagen, loved all the design, and a week later, I saw Vanessa and she said to me, “do you want to design tableware?” She already had samples, and suddenly I knew that was the right thing.
Designlines: Most of Blok’s work is in graphic design – is this kind of design new for you?
Vanessa Eckstein: Not totally. My mom was a ceramicist, so I was brought up with ceramics all my life. I have a love of it, and for me, design has always been about experimenting and exploring. My first line was called Intento, and I learned so much from that experience. Everything that I didn’t know and didn’t do – I didn’t figure out distribution and other things – was because I did it organically and intuitively.
Designlines: What are some of those lessons that you learned, and what mistakes are you correcting now?
Vanessa Eckstein: Many, and that reminds me of how glad I am that Muriel has come into my life. I know my strengths and limitations, so it’s huge to find someone that aligns with your values and has their own strengths, and who you want to be partners with, period. Finding that balance isn’t easy.
On the design side, the first time, it was much more organic and uncertain. We couldn’t keep a certain standard. We couldn’t design something, 3D print it, test it and correct it, so it was much harder to adjust. And we wanted to make sure førs had a sensuality of form and feeling. Design is at its best when functionality is at its best. Then come beauty and grace – that’s sometimes forgotten.
Designlines: How much time did it take for those initial ideas to become finished products?
Muriel Solomon: I was in the plant in spring 2019 and we were on the third version of the spout at that time. We had just recently made another mold for it, so that’s how long that’s been going on. We also designed these beautiful bowls, but the bottom of the clay kept dropping out, and we couldn’t get the finish we wanted, so we had to scale them down. Then others we nailed right at the beginning. It really all depends on the product.
Designlines: Is there a plan to expand the line?
Vanessa Ekstein: We actually started this process with a disassembling stool that was about being able to live in a small space but filled with people – you could have 50 stools hanging on a wall. It was always about being nomadic, stepping lightly and having objects that are flexible and fluid. We’re not going to put out products because we want products. They have to make sense philosophically. They have to align to very basic human connections and needs. Good design is timeless, and we’ve lost so much of that.
See and shop the collection at FORSSTUDIO.COM