The Interrogator with Helen Levi

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Brooklyn-based ceramicist Helen Levi deals in the kind of perfect imperfection that is wholly aligned with the aesthetic of today. Each piece, made out of her light-filled industrial studio in Red Hook, is unique and bespoke. Lines waver, paint drips, colors meld. Levi’s work is the antithesis of mass manufacturing and faceless brands. A hobbyist since childhood, a chance encounter with designer and lifestyle empresario Steven Alan in 2012 allowed Levi, then multi-jobbing her way through New York City life, to drop everything she was doing and fully commit to ceramics.

For Levi, designing ceramics starts with contemplating what will feel the most beautiful to the hand. Pottery–be it a bowl, a cup, a plate, a home for a plant–no matter what its contents may be, is a conduit for touch. Her thoughtful designs have been welcomed with open arms by some of the leaders in the homegoods space. Her works have been sold in New York and beyond, at stores like Joinery, Homecoming, the Primary Essentials, Steven Alan Home. They have been featured in Bon Appétit, Vogue, Saveur, New York Mag. They sit on the shelves of those who understand elegance in the unexpected. Levi is everywhere–a designation well-deserved.

But enough about the goods. Let’s get to the girl. Here, Helen Levi talks detours, solitude, and pre-potter gigs.

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Place of residence:

Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

Current occupation:

Potter.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Wrinkly and happy!

Quote to live by:

“Easy come, easy go.”

First job you ever had:

Coffee shop girl at Ciao For Now in the East Village. Still my favorite place to get a pastry and an iced tea.

Least favorite part of your day:

Catching up on emails because I’m ALWAYS behind.

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Windows down, the song you’re playing is:

“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.

Three guilty pleasures:

The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise.

If you had to watch one movie on repeat for eternity, what would it be?  

The Fifth Element.

You have a million dollars to spend on art, you buy…

Alexander Calder’s “Circus.”

Plane, train or automobile for a trip?

Automobile.

What IS your favorite trip?

So far… road tripping around New Mexico.

Personal travel ethos:

Be open to detours.

Drink of choice:

Black tea with milk and honey.

Helen Levi

Beach house or tree house:

Tree house.

Where was the best meal you ever had and what was it?

Duck enchiladas at Sophia’s in Albuquerque.

Who or what is largely overrated? Explain.  

It’s not that it’s overrated, but that I’m not sophisticated enough to appreciate it: expensive wine.

Briefly describe the best concert you have ever gone to.  

Kendrick Lamar, which was awesome because my parents took me and my sister. I’m sure they were the oldest people there.

Where do you go for inspiration, peace of mind?

I love going to the beach in winter, when it’s empty. It’s so rare to find solitude in NYC. Otherwise, I go upstate to where my parents have a house in the Catskills.

Photos courtesy of Atisha Paulson for SIXTY Hotels

Jenny Bahn

Jenny Bahn

Jenny Bahn is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, specializing in music, fashion, the arts, and culture, both high and low. Her work has been featured in V Magazine, CR, Office, and TIME. She is the Managing Editor of Alpha SIXTY.

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