INTERVIEW: Ninon (aka neen) Choplin

INTERVIEW: Ninon (aka neen) Choplin

Here at Slowdown Studio we love collaborating with emerging and established artists from across the globe. We recently had the opportunity to chat with ceramicist and designer, Ninon (aka neen) Choplin. neen is from Paris, France and is known for their whimsical ceramic tableware and smokeware. Have a read of our interview with neen for their thoughts on bringing playfulness to adult objects, LA's special love for ceramics and how they blend 3D tech with their work. Photo above by A Klass.

1. How do you identify?

This is a very broad question, but here’s my attempt at an answer..
I would say what I identify with the most is a butter croissant. There’s all you need to know about me in these perfect pastries: french, buttery, crunchy on the outside and gooey-melty on the inside!

Now if you need something a little more relatable I also identify as queer and non-binary. I use they/them pronouns and prefer for people to think of me as outside the binary entirely!

2. In what ways does your queerness influence your work?

In so many ways, too many to list! Queer and trans joy are one of the most colorful feelings I can think of, from that comes a lot of beautiful and ground breaking work. I look up to a lot of queer figures and am constantly inspired by the art and fashion coming from our community.

Being a queer/trans person puts you in a lot of situations where you have to learn how to think outside the box, and that’s a really special quality to have as an artist.

3. Your color combinations are so bright and fun. Where do you get your color inspiration from?

For a long time back in France and in my own self-discovery as a teenager I took refuge in neutral colors to avoid standing out. A lot of colors are attached to gender in our society so I think I unconsciously avoided them.

Coming out as non-binary and feeling more confident with who I was opened up a lot of doors for me, and that included the door to the rainbow palette!

Using colors in my work is also a way for me to reclaim the loss of childhood ~ I mean look at children’s toys and furniture, it’s all so colorful! Working in the furniture world for a few years I felt like the contemporary high-end design world looked down on bright colors. It didn’t feel right to me that “adult” objects didn’t get to be as playful as the objects we design for children. So when I got into ceramic I started experimenting with primary colors and found that they really resonated with people of all ages!

4. There’s a lot of great ceramicists here in LA. Is there anything about the city that has defined how or what you create?

Oh I know! I love our little ceramics community here in LA, such a lovely group of humans.

LA definitely has a lot to offer for inspiration. The architecture and colorful painted buildings here never cease to inspire me. Not only that but LA is also such a beautiful mix of people and cultures that make it such a vibrant city.

I think what helps small creative businesses like mine thrive here is the enthusiasm that Angelinos have for handmade crafts.

5. We were very impressed with your 3D modelling skills when you were designing concepts for our Cloud Incense Burners! Is this part of your design process for all of your pieces?

That’s nice to hear! I do use 3D modeling quite a bit in my creative process but not 100% of the time. My initial formation was in industrial design and as part of the curriculum we learned how to use 3D modeling and rendering programs. I’ve always had a lot of fun playing around with them.

As I grew as a designer I found that my creative brain works in three dimensions so sometimes drawing out a design on a flat sheet of paper doesn’t help me visualize it well. In those moments I turn to 3D modeling.

I also use this process for 3D printing the masters for some of my designs. For example, the tobogan pipe was modeled on the computer and then printed in a smooth hard plastic. From that print I can make plaster molds to recreate the design out of clay!

6. What are you listening to in your studio at the moment?

I go through several audiobooks a month, not ashamed to say a lot of them are young adult fiction! But at the moment, I am listening to the Wizard of Earthsea series from Ursula K Le Guin.

Lately, whenever I have a good stopping point I’ve been mostly listening to french music as I’ve been missing home a lot. In particular, I really love the singer Pomme and can always listen to our pop icon Mylene Farmer.

7. What’s your favorite way to slow down?

Clown! I started taking clown classes with my partner and my pod during the lockdown and it has changed my life. It feels so liberating to let go and be as vulnerable and open as a child for a few hours every week. You can check out our group on instagram @highlandparkcloons!

I also take it upon myself to test my own product (including pipes) ~ so that’s usually a good way to slow down :)