We had the good fortune of connecting with Donna de Soto and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Donna, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk has played a significant role throughout my life and career. Evaluating risk vs. reward is something humans do using quantitative data, historical experience and intuition—both science and art. While some risks I have taken have led to positive results that would not have happened otherwise, not all have resulted in a “quantifiable success.” For me, taking considered risks have always been a worthwhile learning process that has ultimately broadened my horizons, knowledge base and perspective.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In 2013 I moved from NYC, my hometown, to LA and focused on designing and making functional ceramics. Through my work I have been very fortunate to have met and connected with many interesting people and have been able to find an audience for my ceramics.The look of my pieces is strongly influenced by my experience in textiles and fashion design and manufacturing in New York. I have recently been creating work that references weave patterns and basketry, coming full circle. My collections are developed as families—they are flexible groupings that relate and speak with one another. Because the work is hand-glazed, I am able explore variations of my designs in a range of color-ways. I think of my work as “livingware.” Pieces are intended to become part of daily life, but they are also designed as stand-alone objects to enhance and become part of the environment.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of my favorite things about LA is driving – seriously! The ability to get to the beach, mountains or desert for a day trip is pretty special. Visitors can see some fabulous west coast architecture driving through neighborhoods like Ladera Heights, Beverly Grove, West Hollywood; Pasadena and of course, Palm Springs.
Some less traveled quirky places I would recommend to visitors are the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale (fabulous old stone buildings and lovely gardens); the Virginia Robinson Gardens in Beverly Hills (small & sweet); the Topanga Nursery has a great plant selection and a honeybee exhibit; a walk along the LA River makes me think of the film “Chinatown;” the best soft ice cream I have ever had is from a shop in the Japanese Village Plaza on 2nd Street– Purple Yam flavor; and the Japan House located in a Hollywood mall offers exhibits of Japanese arts & crafts as well as a shop with beautifully curated items. Of course if you are visiting LA, go to the beach!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to send a Shoutout to my alma mater, The Rhode Island Schools of Design. Like most high school students in the USA I studied broad range of subjects and was part of a student body with diverse interests. As an aspiring artist/designer it was exciting and stimulating to study and practice and grow among a select group of highly creative people with similar interests and aspirations.
Throughout each phase of my professional life I have applied the drawing, design and problem-solving skills I practiced at RISD. Some of what I learned during my time there is: that you get good at what you practice; to problem solve both visually and intellectually; to consider context; to notice symbol, derivation, pattern; to take photos; to pay attention to intuition; to study art & design history and look at everything from a step back. The skills, habits of mind and work patterns I developed as a RISD student have served me well.
Donna de Soto