It was love at first sight when it came to Stak Ceramics. These functional ceramic pieces elevate simple vessels like a utensil crock into an ipad dock for easy recipe viewing. It’s these thoughtful details that make creators, Heather and Myles, so incredibly special, and we can’t wait to see all this new work at our Chicago Fair this weekend!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
Our business name Stak Ceramics, was inspired by the landscape and architecture of Pittsburgh Pa. The city of Pittsburgh is surrounded by hilly neighborhoods with homes and buildings that appear to be “stacked”. We wanted our business name to reflect the city where we live and work.
Have you always been passionate about design?
I have always been interested in design and the way artists utilize space. Whether it is paint on a canvas or glaze on a ceramic piece, the way people choose to design their work is fascinating. Myles has had an interest in design for as long as he can remember. He built furniture and lamps as a hobby in high school, and then moved on to study sculpture and industrial design in college.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
I took a wheel throwing class during my last semester of college and was immediately hooked. I moved on to take more classes after graduating, and eventually I rented my own ceramic studio in Pittsburgh. Myles bought a used kiln online, with the intention of making ceramic sculpture and prototyping products. We were introduced in 2011 by the owner of a local ceramic supply company and we started collaborating our ceramic work about a year later.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
Most of our ceramic designs embrace technology and compliment the way people interact with electronic devices in their everyday life. All of our forms and surface treatments are original designs created in our Pittsburgh studio. We design, prototype, make all of our own plaster molds, formulate our own glazes and personally produce every piece we offer. We take great pride in designing and producing original work.
Our ceramic products are meant to be highly functional. We utilize traditional ceramic materials and processes to create products that embrace modern technology and complement today’s modern lifestyle.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
We are constantly designing and developing products, most of which never make it past the prototype stage. We could fill a room with all of the molds and prototyped pieces that have resulted in failed designs. However, each failed product provides insight into ways we can improve our process and future designs. We approach design with an attitude that, if we are going to be successful, failures are a part of the process.
-If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
There are a number of moments that we are very proud of and moments that we will never forget. We both had jobs outside of Stak Ceramics for two years after creating our business. The proudest moment for us is when we realized that we were able to move on from our previous jobs and commit to Stak Ceramics full time. We are proud to be our own bosses!
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
We were fortunate enough to be able to transition into being our own bosses due to heightened demand for our products and an opportunity that a previous employer presented us. It was a terrifying moment and decision to make but, one that has been extremely fulfilling and one we hope will allow us to be successful for a very long time.
What are some inspirations for your work?
Most of our inspiration comes from everyday life and new experiences. Our work is informed by interacting with the environment we live in and by observing the way people interact with the objects they use on a daily basis. We are also consistently trying new ceramic techniques or processes in an effort to discover what is possible and continue to improve the work we do.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
We are always learning and asking for feedback from other makers. The maker community is a wonderful group of diverse people from nearly every discipline you can imagine. They are always willing to answer questions and provide constructive feedback. If anything, we would suggest reaching out to other makers if you need information or tips. It is always informative and you never know what may result from simply reaching out…