Shan Annabelle Valla creates playful things of subtle beauty, mainly in glass and porcelain. The sort of things that we want on our mantlepieces. We’ll be saying so in person on Sunday at Pulse. But what else can we learn about this talented designer/maker?
Tell us about your studio. My studio is compact but I love it. I share a larger room with three others – jewellery designer, an artist, and a porcelain lighting designer. Its always busy, with us all there, but it’s great as there is always someone to you can run ideas past. I also I have an area at home that I work from. If I need peace and quiet I stay there.
And, is there such a thing as your average working day? I genuinely think, no. It usually starts at around 7.30am when I leave the house on my bike, then get to my studio, make a coffee and prepare for the day ahead, but then anything can happen. I might be covered in clay and plaster making models and samples all day long, doing admin, or packing orders and delivering.
Who or what inspired you to become a designer? Studying and gaining in-depth knowledge about craft and materials is what led me to where I am. I never decided or consciously thought about becoming a designer, it’s just the path that I followed after studying applied arts. My father is a photographer, and there are lots of artists in my family, so I always knew I would do something creative.
How do you get from idea in your head to finished piece? If I have an idea I just have to start making it. For me it is ultimately the way that something changes when it’s a real thing that influences the way a design evolves. I always find unexpected qualities that I want to keep in the final product that I just wouldn’t come across if the design was finished before the making commenced.
What are you most proud of? Day to day, I wouldn’t really say that I feel proud of things I’ve done, but just before Christmas I was asked to present the annual awards at my old college, and it was the first time I have really summed up what I have accomplished, so far, and it made me feel proud of my achievements. I couldn’t actually pick which one, though, as different things are more important at different stages in life.
How far ahead does your masterplan stretch? Subconsciously, my plan stretches years ahead. Consciously, it’s actually probably only six months. Its usually my partner that that gets me to actually vocalise my plans. I know I hold way to much in my head, not writing it down.
What do you hope to get out of Pulse this year? It’s a great opportunity to showcase my products to both new and existing buyers, I hope to take on new stockists as well as take orders on my new designs from existing buyers. It is also a chance to get some good press coverage.
Other than designing, what makes you happy? The sun, the snow, the sea. The perfect flat white. Being with my best friends. Exploring. Cooking. The small details.
How would you spend your perfect weekend? Saturday. Waking up to a sunny morning in Pembrokeshire and having a lazy breakfast on the decking in the sunshine before setting of on a days coastal walking. Stopping mid way for a picnic lunch on the cliff edge whilst gazing at the miles of rugged coves of the Pembrokeshire coast line soaking up the sun shining and breeze. Then heading back to my parents and cooking a delicious Ottolenghi-style meal to share with friends and family. And on Sunday, more of the same, but perhaps a tea and cake stop in the afternoon.