As the age-old saying goes, repetition is the mother of all learning.
Ceramicist Janaki Larsen specializes in careful recurrence. Her pieces rebel against the perfection of mass-produced tableware, elevating the dining experience with handmade dishes that bring sustainable cooking into a new light.
Larsen’s inspiration is driven from the ground up—literally. “I love dirt. Dirt’s my thing. Growing things, making things: that’s why food is so tied into my work,” Larsen says with a laugh. “People wanted soul again. They wanted things that felt like they were made by a person, and had some history, and had a story.”
She speaks comfortably in her Ontario and 7th studio, squatting on a clay-dusted stool amongst the organized chaos of her artist sanctuary. The ground-level space is flooded by a gentle stream of natural morning light that subtly rests on the tattoo on her forearm. The cursive letters spell out “thank you.”
Coming full circle, Larsen is back working from the same studio she occupied 10 years prior. “I always thought that going back meant surrendering,” she says. “To repeat yourself meant that you somehow missed the point, that you weren’t growing or you weren’t learning or pushing far enough. And then it’s interesting to go through those times and realize you want to be back in that place.”
Larsen always knew she was an artist—the only thing she had to figure out was her medium. “My dad is a painter, so I didn’t want to be a painter; my mom is a potter, so I didn’t want to be a potter,” she recalls of deciding what direction to go in at Emily Carr. “So I went into the sculpture department. There was a drip that came out of the ceiling in my studio [at the time], and I wanted to make a bowl to catch the drip. So, I signed up for ceramics class and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing.’ And that was that.” That was 17 years ago.
While Larsen is also the mastermind and co-owner behind two beloved Vancouver landmarks, the iconic Le Marche St. George and the Mount Pleasant concept space Atelier St. George, her successes don’t end there. Praised by chefs, food bloggers, and Instagram junkies alike, her acclaimed work has been featured in the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks It’s All Good and It’s All Easy, as well as Vogue Paris.
Modern, minimalist, and deeply human, Larsen’s pieces thrive on their flaws. Each item carries its own raw identity: bowls, vases, Japanese-style mugs, and deep plates are laced with texture and layers, aquatic barnacle themes, and peeling glaze. “People know my work, and what they like about it is the imperfections. When I first started ceramics I felt a lot of self-imposed pressure that they had to be perfect and matchy-matchy. But I realized that they don’t have to be,” she says, gesturing to a leaning tower of bowls.
“I think for me, the process is always the most important part,” Larsen explains. “It’s repetitive, and I usually do something that I’m not supposed to do. But I have two jobs: creating for the public, and the other part of me that just wants to make weird shit. I need to find the time to do both.” 3ND
7e7 is also the home of Janaki Larsen Ceramics. Visit her at 7 East 7th, Vancouver, BC.