Tour Ceramicist Aimee McLaughlin's Retro-Styled Portland Apartment
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, ceramic artist Aimee McLaughlin, the founder of Objet Aimée welcomes us into her home.
Introducing ceramicist Aimee McLaughlin. Based in Portland, Maine, Aimee was first introduced to the medium after taking ceramics classes while studying textile design at University. Now, what was once a part-time hobby has evolved into a full-time passion.
Then, in 2018, Objet Aimée was born. Meaning ‘Loved Object’ in French, Objet Aimée is a collection of one-of-a-kind ceramics produced for both functional and decorative use, inspired by ancient forms and classic motifs. (A selection of which are now exclusively available at Bed Threads!)
In Aimee’s home, there’s a similar focus on functionality and simplicity. Her handmade loved objects feature throughout the space, with hand-crafted vessels of all shapes and sizes hosting exquisitely unique floral arrangements. Mixing her love of 20th Century vintage with bold colour and texture, the aesthetic here is relaxed, considered, and full of character.
Vintage Vogue covers take pride of place on the walls, whilst an impressive book collection lines shelves and side tables. In the bedroom, a pot of French press arrives on a bespoke Objet Aimée tray, whilst incense burns from its delicate Marée holder. It’s the kind of home you instantly feel at ease in, especially from the comfort of her stunning tufted velvet couch. (Just ask her cats.)
Aimee works on creating the Coquille Vase.
Hi Aimee. This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
I make mostly functional objects out of clay.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I am fascinated by the flow of ideas and imagination. I love when an idea surprises me and I love having to work through an idea. Clay allows me to operate in both spheres. Sometimes I will sit down and let my hands do the thinking and sometimes it takes months and several tests before a concept is even close to what I want. I remind myself often of a simple but favourite quote by Picasso, “everything you can imagine is real.”
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue ceramics? And what gave you the impetus to start your own studio?
I studied textile design at the University of Georgia and took a couple of pottery classes as electives. I think that was the first time I ever worked with clay. Years later I was living in New York and spoke with a friend who also wanted to take a clay class, so we signed up for one together. I began spending all my spare time at the studio and eventually it was all I could think about making.
I wasn’t planning to start a studio; I just really enjoyed making ceramics. Eventually it became clear to me that this is exactly what I want to do every day. It was a rather natural progression as I began running out of shelving and kiln space.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I feel like I am always ‘on’ when it comes to the creative process. You never know when or where a great idea will happen and what will be the spark. Lately, it’s been a lot of pen to paper, though—sketching shapes, keeping my eyes open. I also like to collect images and find patterns and themes within the collection. That is where I’ll go when I’m struggling, but usually what I need to give a struggling idea is time. Marinating always works.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
That I am constantly learning new lessons.
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
The best thing that’s happened is being able to work with clay every day.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/someone looking to start their own business/go out on their own?
I’m a big believer in things taking the time they take. It can be difficult to trust the process and progress when things take time, but generally, things take time. Also, part-time jobs are great for times of creative transition.
Shop the Coquille Vase.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
A little over a year. My boyfriend and I moved to Maine (and moved in together!) last October.
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
It was actually the only space we were able to view before moving so I had some reservations, but it has been a lovely apartment and we’re very grateful.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
We had to fix the closet immediately. It had old linoleum floors that were peeling up, absolutely no lighting (or outlets), and the walls were looking pretty rough. So we put down new flooring, repainted it white, and hung a light with a remote switch.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
This is our first apartment together so we are constantly rearranging to figure out what works where. I gravitate towards early 20th century vintage and my boyfriend’s family is from South Africa, which has wonderfully influenced his style with a love for bold colour and texture.
What are your favourite pieces in your home?
An old wooden chest with red floral paper on the inside, a collection of Vogue cover prints from the 1920s, my copy of ‘Face of Mae West Which May Be Used as an Apartment’ by Salvador Dalí, my two cats, our round dining table with striped swivel chairs, and all the books.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
More plants. I’m nowhere even close, but I’ve always dreamed of living in a sort of greenhouse.
Shop the Maree Holder.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
In the winter, the bedroom. It gets the best light and all I want to do is stay warm under the covers. In summer, the living room. It’s the most central room and I like having both the table and couch nearby. There're plenty of options for relaxation and enjoyment.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
I like to rearrange things. There are infinite options and possibilities for surprise. I think it keeps the space feeling energised.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
This is probably a project for the distant future, but someday I want to live in a home where every room is painted a different colour. Right now I’m thinking of rose, plum, turmeric, cornflower, mauve, emerald and terracotta.