We had the good fortune of connecting with Mao Kun Chen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mao, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?

Mao Projects is owned by me and my partner Chris Savage. There are a few reasons why we decided to officially start a business; First and foremost, we found that there are not many products that fulfilled our interests and that there is a disparity between mass-produced objects and what is considered to be more of a craft-based approach to production. We wanted to find new ways of making objects that resisted the approach the majority of mass-produced products have; being largely profit-oriented, focusing on quantity over quality, and sacrificing a lot of interesting aspects of design in order to simplify the process and make the product exactly reproducible.

We decided to make daily objects that we think are interesting and have more of a focus on quality and aesthetics. In addition, what we’ve found is that there is an audience out there like us that are looking for unique and artistic objects for daily use or for their own collections. As small-batch object makers, we aim to fulfill the growing demand that mass production is not able to fulfill. As artists, we think it is important to diversify the type of products available and push the aesthetic boundaries in the market.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Mao Projects is an art and ceramic studio based in Canada that focuses on the development of collaborative art projects as well as small-batch functional art ceramics. Mao Projects first started as a small fun art-commercial side project from myself. Mao projects have since expanded to become an official small business founded by me and my partner Chris Savage. Both of us are visual artists and instructors who hold MFA degrees and have exhibition records within Canada, the Uk and China.

As artists and art educators, we think art is very important to human beings and should be accessible to everyone. Somehow, through our experiences as artists, we don’t see fine art as being very accessible to the majority of people. We want to close the distance between people and art through everyday objects. By using what we’ve learned and practiced during our art careers, we aim to transfer the aesthetic and conceptual notions of our fine art practices into daily use objects through the medium of ceramics. We want to make the artwork more accessible to everyone. We do really see having a small business as not only beneficial for us as individuals, but also beneficial for audiences and our communities. The business side of things is still a relatively new chapter in our journey and we are very grateful for the support and the opportunity to share our vision with you all!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
For food in Calgary, Canada we would visit Chef Tian for its authentic Chinese cuisine, we would also spend a day visiting and sampling bubble tea at the various options around the city. We would definitely visit the Esker Foundation as it exhibits an incredible array of contemporary art from international artists. For a get away out of the city we would head to the mountains and visit Banff to do some hiking and visit the incredible Banff Arts Centre.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Family 🙂

Website: https://www.maoprojects.com/

Instagram: @mao_projects

Other: IG: @ccmsavage ( features more of the collaborative work )

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.