Convivial friends! Thank you for taking time to jump on here and read our first company blog post. Chentell Shannon here (founder). I will be the voice behind this editorial as it takes shape and am excited for the opportunity to provide more depth and insights into our company through this forum. I started Convivial in 2014 and while I won't get into the gritty details of how at this point - visit our About page for this - I do want to share a bit about why I started Convivial and how I hope our pieces function and inspire you within daily life.
As many of you know, we recently moved into a larger location. We jumped from a 800 sq/ft studio to a 2.5k sq/ft production space. Scary, yes. Exciting, you bet! The change in space has come with so many new realities - a major one being the quantity of items that we are able to produce. At max capacity in our previous location we had 5 girls and 90 casting molds. In a given week we were creating approximately 250-350 pieces. In the new space, after finishing phase 1 of our expansion - building out the necessary tables, shelving and kilns - with the same 5 girls and the addition of 500 new molds we are able to create 1k pieces a week at start. My hope is that this will only continue to grow.
As the studio owner, these changes have been a dream come true. Seeing repititious stacks of pieces on the shelves, all cleaned, carved, glazed and ready to go is truly beautiful and satisfying. It's a mark of how far we've come and a glimpse of heights we can reach. However, as the company continues to grow, I find that I'm internally conflicted with a tension - a constant reminder that the work we do is not just about the products we're working tirelessly to create. I can't stress this enough. Our mission as a company is to produce high quality and beautiful wares, yes. However, more importantly, the hope and vision behind Convivial is that the designs we create will ultimately serve in function and aesthetic to inspire others towards a life of conviviality.
For those who are unfamiliar, the word Convivial (aka conviviality) is defined as "an atmosphere or event that is friendly, lively, and enjoyable" Convivial is the joining of individuals to eat, to drink and to be joyful together. It's warm, good-natured company. It is face to face connection. It is pure social vitality. It is authentic hospitality.
When founding Convivial, I was enamored with the possibilities that functional ceramics provided for hospitality and ultimately conviviality. I was mesmerized with the process of wheel-throwing mugs, plates and bowls, and even more so, I felt my truest self when using those items to welcome and serve others within my home and studio. This is the heart of Convivial. Our mission as a company is to create beautiful, well design items that will ultimatley serve to inspire you towards conviviality. We create the tabletop items (plates, bowls, serving dishes) that allow individuals to join around a common meal as well as the surrounding decor (planters, votives, etc) that sets the scene for gathering. We design beautiful and functional products so that you can create spaces to host and have the objects needed to do so. Our products are about personal connection. They're about service. They're about fostering beautiful and warm places for people to spend time within. Our products are about joy shared with good company and conversation. They're about people and for people. Conviviality is the ultimate why.
As the company founder and product designer, I've always been motivated by this purpose and vision, but I'll admit that when I am knee deep in clay working to figure out technical aspects of our work, I often fail to communicate this deeper meaning for you all to see and understand. The last fours years I've had tunnel vision - working in the studio to refine the technical aspects of creating products and growing our systems. I don't regret this. This is exactly what the company needed to get to where it is today and will continue to require this focus. However, as we continue to grow, I can't help but feel the increasing necessity that we begin to focus on our love for conviviality with the same intensity that we do our production. I have a handful of ideas of how we will go about this, starting first with this editorial. My hope within this space is to share, challenge and hopefully inspire you all toward a deeper understanding and greater practice of conviviality.
So, here's to a new leaf of digging deeper into the why convivial. Thank you for the opportunity to create and speak.