As I drove up to Granada, I didn’t know what to expect. Ceramic art and a young woman who’d come across my business card at a street market and called to introduce her young company Kilix Ceramica. On arrival, she gave me a button. Not just any button, but a dark green button reminiscent of a Matisse painting with overlapping squares in bright red, green and orange and presented with a little brown leather bow. I was hooked.
Oranges, greens, blues, purples, browns and yellows, all with her signature texture and often combining simplistic imagery and words. “I create simple lines so as not to overload the space and to ensure the client doesn’t grow tired of our ceramics as the years go by. The trick is to avoid overdoing it,” explains Carmen Jiménez, founder of Kilix Ceramica and the artist behind their characteristic designs.
The restaurant La Metáfora is a case in point. In collaboration with interior designers CubeInteriora and graphic designer Sergio Bonilla, Jiménez played with the concept of metaphor to let her imagination run wild. “La Metáfora has been very important for Kilix due to its location in the centre of Granada,” she notes. The bathrooms are created using unique one-off tiles decorated with small dolls in all shapes, sizes and positions. But that’s not all: “I got it into my head that I wanted to create square washbasins. I couldn’t find them anywhere and so I ended up making them myself. I spent months making sinks and testing different models”.
Trained as a biologist, Carmen Jiménez decided to take the plunge and enroll in the Escuela de Artes y Oficios de Granada in 2001. Then came a workshop at the Escuela de Cerámica de la Bisbal in Gerona to learn about low temperature enamels. “I realized that there wasn’t anything on the market I wanted to buy. One either had to go rustic or visit large commercial producers and obtain a more industrial product,” clarifies Jiménez. “I discovered a gap in the market for a production line of tiles decorated with bright colours, alternative designs or even offering clients the chance to make ceramic based on their own designs,” she concludes.
Jiménez soon began experimenting with new glazes and textures using personalized recipes: “I started to try out different enamels and using brightly coloured glazes. I prefer to work with my own colours but sometimes comercial glazes can transmit fresh sensations”. In 2007 she was awarded the ticket de autonomo, a subsidy to help set up her small company. With it she bought an oven and rented a workshop. Kilix Ceramica was born.
“With the market being flooded by Chinese ceramics and mass produced copies across the board, the ceramics industry has been unequivocally affected. The 21st century has seen a rise in mass production and the value of utilitarian object such as ceramics has decreased,” grumbles Jiménez.
The word Kilix, or kylix in English, comes from Ancient Greece. It’s a wine-drinking cup that involved a great deal of artisan work in its creation. “It was as if they were speaking through their work. The inscription on the Dionysos kylix created by the potter Exequias reads Exequias made me and Exequias decorated me. I really liked the name Kilix because at the time society valued the importance of the piece itself and the person who had created it”.
They say that Granada has the oldest ceramic tradition of any European city, with a style rooted in its rich Islamic past. But when walking around the historic city centre one often gets the sensation that this artistic tradition has remained firmly rooted in the past. “The popularity of so-called traditional ceramics produced for tourists can at times become a burden to artists working in the industry,” she clarifies. “If a client is looking for something in a traditional granada style, there are many ceramicists who could do the job better. I can create pieces inspired by the era, but I’m not specialized in that particular style and I tend to avoid those kinds of projects”.
It’s tough times for artisans everywhere: “It’s been a hard year, but I’ve been analysing our results and things are looking up. Each and every day is about sewing seeds and learning new skills. We’re still here, so that’s the important thing”. So why is it that us crazy entrepreneurs keep at it against the odds? “Believing in your project is what makes you tick, don’t you think? There are days when things can get on top of you and you wonder ‘why did i get mixed up in all this?’. But there is something that keeps you going, a deep-rooted faith in what you’re doing,” confesses Jiménez. “You have to be a little crazy”.
Only by appointment.
Ver Tertulia Andaluza en un mapa más grande
Tags: azulejo, cerámica, ceramista, colores, cubeinteriora, emprendedor, emprendedora, featured art & creative industries, featured art & design, granada, industria, interiorismo, kilix, metafora, restaurante la metafora, architecture, art & design, handicrafts, art, artist, , design, business, granada province