Esme Qining Lei is a graphic designer turned potter, and founder of Common Goods Pottery based out of Markham, ON. I was introduced to Esme's work not too long ago and instantly fell in love with her unique ceramics, small-batch designs and the values she shares as an Asian founder and maker.
We sat down with Esme to learn a little bit more about her journey and inspiration as a full time creative.
How did your love for pottery start?
I joined the throwing club at school while studying Graphic Design, and it was the only thing that kept me sane during thesis year! After graduation, I decided to visit my family in China and thought It would be a good idea to take advantage of the visit and learn how to properly throw, so I went to Jingdezhen, a city famous for its fine porcelain. I studied under a local potter who taught me traditional Chinese wheel-throwing techniques, and I mainly focused on making Chinese teaware.
What was the transition like between graphic design and running your pottery business full time?
After my visit to China, I was itching to get back to the wheel but couldn’t find a studio in my area so I invested in my own pottery wheel. I found a 9-5 job as a graphic designer. It was fun, but not fulfilling. I would run home from work every day and throw until bedtime. I sharpened my skills through daily practice and decided to give pottery a chance full time for a few years. If it didn’t work out, then I could just go back to a regular full time job.
How would you describe your pieces, and what inspires you to create them?
I like to create functional and decorative pieces, and take a lot of inspiration from forms and textures found in nature.. My work is usually reflective of my personal experiences and emotions. It’s also pretty influenced by the arts and philosophy of the Song dynasty.
It’s no doubt that having a creative job can be stressful sometimes. How do you like to chill out and make time for yourself when you’re not in the studio?
Doing Gua Sha on my face and body, and reading a book before bed helps me relax at the end of the day. I also love sewing or rug tufting if I feel like I need to decompress.
When I saw Esme's dimple mug, I had to have it and share it with our Amoda fam. It was really fun customizing the mug with a matcha latte-inspired splash design. It's been months in the making, but I'm excited to finally have a mug I love to complete my morning latte ritual.
The Amoda x Common Goods dimple cup is available for a limited time.