After graduating from Monday night ceramics classes together, working in a communal studio, and now finally in their own space, Jennifer Fiore and Nina Lalli of MONDAYS have been making hand-built ceramics in their Clinton Hill, Brooklyn workroom for a year and a half. Signing the lease on their own 450-square-foot space was a huge step, and meant buying and installing a kiln and slab roller — both daunting and exciting investments. Now working together for a total of four years, having a place with its own sink in a renovated 1935 industrial building (with original character intact) has ramped up the operation’s production and creativity. For functional furnishings, Jennifer and Nina salvaged industrial metal shelving to hold most of their in-process and finished work. They also bought used stainless steel restaurant pieces as their work tables, and repurposed an old baker’s rack as well. A friend built a wedging table custom-made for the pair’s short statures. As part of a “cleaner” area up front for eating together and hosting visitors, neighbors Tony and Emily Mullin designed and installed a cabinet with grooved display shelves that prop up multiple plates to display sets. “When a fancy magazine editor or store owner visits the studio,” Nina and Jennifer explain, “we don’t want them to leave covered in clay dust.”
The large window in the room faces east, so save for some great light in the mornings and a lucky few minutes in the afternoons, the studio doesn’t get bright light. The addition of brown clay everywhere can sometimes feel dreary in moments of low natural light, and because Jennifer and Nina are both admittedly messy, their goal was to use the space as efficiently as possible to contain their things — and fight the tendency to establish any more dark corners or form piles on the floor. They have to be able to mop thoroughly to keep from inhaling dust all the time.
Taking advantage of the vertical space, Nina and Jennifer put up shelves everywhere, but still often have to throw some plywood across a couple of buckets to hold more work. They are about to receive a second kiln to help keep up with demand, and are grateful to each customer who has helped to grow their business. A place outside the home in which to think, make a mess, and experiment with new ideas is an incredible luxury in an expensive city. Jennifer and Nina are thankful to have that, “And enough orders to pay the rent!” —Annie