Craftsmanship, design, and artistry make up the core of Franca ceramics located in Brooklyn, New York and we had the pleasure of speaking with one of the co-founders about their work and what inspires them to create.
Jazmin de la Guardia has been passionate about art and travel from a young age, having been born in Paraguay and growing up with a mother from Uruguay and a father from Cuba. She went on to receive her Bachelors in Printmaking from Pratt Institute, where the skills she developed helped her create the eccentric patterns that are Franca’s signature.
Sierra Yip-Bannicq is a Brooklyn dog mom with roots in Chinese and French culture, who met Jazmin during her studies at Pratt Institute for Industrial Design after having grown up in Beijing. Over the past couple of years, she has become more and more interested in using new materials and applying different production methods to their work.
TC: How has the unique mix of cultures you both have roots in influenced your work?
JAZMIN: Sierra and I both grew up mixing multiple cultural backgrounds in our everyday lives, from the food we ate to the way we spoke and the traditions we embraced. When we started working together we were excited to combine our backgrounds and create something that reflected who we were as a team.
Since our backgrounds are different we always have different experiences and ideas to pull from. It really brings an interesting mix to the table and makes us push each other, always moving forward and trying something new.
TC: I love where the brand’s name comes from and the concept of “lingua franca”, how did this come to be your message?
JAZMIN: The idea of “lingua franca” spoke to us on a very personal level because we both came to New York not only to study but to experience a city where people from all over the world come to share who they are and where they come from. Franca is not only about finding a common language but also about finding common ground between people from different backgrounds. We feel really strongly about this mission and we see it reflected daily in our own brand, as the two of us navigate our own cultural backgrounds while working together.
TC: How has travel inspired your art?
JAZMIN: Traveling for us is not only about taking a break from work, it also means stepping away from your comfort zone and taking in new cultures, people, sights, and sounds. It’s about slowing down and taking the time to connect with something different from what you’re used to, allowing it to affect and change how you see things. All of these experiences make their way into our work, from new forms to textures and colors.
TC: What inspires your printmaking/design process?
JAZMIN: I personally find inspiration from all aspects of my life and the world around me. It can come from almost anything; nature, architecture, art, and even politics. It’s whatever I am moved by and feel a connection with at the moment.
TC: How did you discover your love for the craft of pottery and ceramics?
JAZMIN: Both Sierra and I have always been drawn to anything that required design and a hands-on approach. However, that means different things to both of us! Sierra is really great at visualizing a 3-dimensional shape and I love designing patterns that work with those shapes. From a practical perspective, clay was also such a great medium for us to start our small business with; we were able to create different designs and bring them to life pretty quickly and economically. This allowed us to test ideas and evolve them according to the feedback we received from our customers.
TC: What is the design process behind creating your pieces?
JAZMIN: Typically we start by creating a mood board to begin to visualize where we want to take our latest project. We usually do this separately at first and then combine our research to see what gets our attention. Surprisingly, so far we have always found we’re on the same page and can seamlessly combine our sources of inspiration. From there we start sketching and prototyping until we land on a shape and a pattern that we both love. The next steps are creating the molds and getting the new design into production!
We loved getting to know the Franca team (plus their adorable pups!) and exploring how their signature creations come to life. You can check them out for yourself at https://www.francanyc.com/.