Felt+Fat by Nate Mell is a ceramic design studio based in the USA. Nate’s real passion is researching materials and mold making. His work celebrates material exploration, process driven discovery and a playful sensibility.
What have you rebelled against in the past, and what are you rebelling against now?
I think our work has been and continues to be a rebellion against the notion that one must sacrifice creativity for growth, or to scale up one must lose the human touch to mechanisation. The act of defying these norms is a rebellion that we embrace.
Do you need to be a rebel to enjoy your work?
I believe everyone rebels to some degree, it’s human nature, but that said, someone that really embodies the idea of being a rebel is a rare thing indeed. If you had to be a real rebel to enjoy our work, I don’t think we’d be in business, haha.
Do you use your own pieces?
Every day! I tend to have a mishmash of various one-off designs from our studio in my home along with works from friends. They are all special to me.
Do you think dishware can still be improved? If yes, in what way?
Well, I think all things can be improved towards one end or another, it depends on your goal. One can consider so many avenues of focus, from ergonomics to sustainability or purely aesthetics, the list goes on. Often an improvement in one facet may detract from another, it’s a tricky balance. That said, I think striking the balance between unique and well executed work is a place where much improvement can, and has been made.
What was the inspiration for your Steinbeisser series?
Our work for Steinbeisser was based around studio waste. In the production process there are often pieces that don’t quite make it or there are things like the trimming off the top of a bud vase, that looks interesting but serves no functional purpose. Occasionally there are also experiments that just don’t really go anywhere. Our inspiration was to take the scraps, these remnants of process, and turn them into tableware. So these outcast objects were deconstructed, and using glaze as glue, reconstructed into these abstract, colourful works.
Describe your work in 3 words!
Fun. Collaborative. Considered.
What kind of materials do you use and where do you get them from?
All our clay is made in house from English porcelain. Our glazes are also formulated and mixed in the studio and the materials are sourced from all over the world but are generally purchased through US distributors.
What are you working on right now?
Right now we are working on some big international orders. We are creating new glazes and forms for our tableware line and all the while slowly building to some bigger collaborations and new home-ware collections.
What excites you about tomorrow?
New experiments and forms, new colours and new collaborations. Watching the studio grow and morph.
What has been your favourite dinner experience?
I had just gotten over being sick and was driving from Dallas to Houston Texas to visit a chef at a restaurant called Uchi. I was staying above the restaurant for a couple of nights in a little apartment. I got in, parked the car, put my bags down and went down stairs into the restaurant where I was sat right at the sushi counter. The chef proceeded to feed me bite after bite of sushi until I couldn’t take one more bite. It was just the most peaceful, intimate experience. I felt as though every single dish and interaction was completely and perfectly considered.
What further ambitions do you have?
Our great ambition is to grow Felt+Fat into a world class ceramic design and production studio. We week to create jobs and collaborations with scores of creative individuals and produce work that will be cherished for generations.